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Research on Individual Differences Within a Sociocultural Perspective: Co-regulation and Adaptive Learning


by Mary McCaslin & Heidi Legg Burross — 2011

Background/Context: Research is presented on teacher-centered instruction and individual differences among students within a sociocultural perspective: specifically, within a co-regulation model.

Purpose of Study: To determine the utility of a co-regulation model for understanding teacher and student adaptation to the press of cultural and social demands for student achievement.

Research Design: Multiple methods were used and quantitative procedures applied to data obtained in Grades 3-5 classrooms (N = 47) in schools (N = 5) that primarily served students living in poverty and were engaged in comprehensive school reform. Data sources include observation of classroom practices (N = 108; mean = 2 observations per classroom) to identify differences in instructional opportunity within teacher-centered instruction; students (N = 439) reported self-monitoring of their classroom activity to ascertain individual differences among them in their adaptation to classroom demands; and student performance on classroom-like tasks (story writing; individual student unit of analysis) and standardized tests (SAT9 language, math, and reading subtests; grade-level unit of analysis) to illuminate the dynamics of opportunity, activity, and adaptation in student achievement.

Conclusions/Recommendations: Results support the potential of a co-regulation model to understand and enhance teacher-centered instruction of students who differ in adaptation to classroom demands and achievement expectations in nontrivial ways. The practicable instructional opportunities that most aligned with cultural demands for improving student performance on mandated tests was a basic form of direct instruction. Direct instruction appears to cast a wide safety net, including students who are and are not yet ready to profit from this mode of instruction as expressed by mandated test performance. Students not yet ready for culturally mandated performances are nonetheless acquiring desirable and personally meaningful adaptations to learning challenges that are co-regulated by direct instruction opportunities. Unfortunately, these students remain largely invisible to sociocultural policy makers who portray them as uninvested in, if not resistant to, school learning. It is reasonable to ask how long students will continue to participate in and adapt to classroom demands without cultural validation of that participation and recognition of the learners these students are and wish to become. It is time for deliberate examination of cultural beliefs and regulations that equate student performance on mandated tests with meaningful learning, a prepared future citizenry, and the effectiveness of the public school.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 113 Number 2, 2011, p. 325-349
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15979, Date Accessed: 8/28/2014 9:10:55 PM

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About the Author
  • Mary McCaslin
    University of Arizona
    E-mail Author
    MARY MCCASLIN is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Arizona. Her scholarship focuses on the relationships among cultural, social, and personal sources of influence that co-regulate student adaptive learning, motivational dynamics, and emergent identity. Her recent publications include “Co-Regulation of Student Motivation and Emergent Identity” in Educational Psychologist (2009) and “School Reform Matters,” a special issue of Teachers College Record (2008) coedited with Thomas L. Good.
  • Heidi Burross
    University of Arizona
    E-mail Author
    HEIDI LEGG BURROSS is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Arizona. Her recent publications on student achievement, motivation, and social interactions have appeared in Teacher’s College Record, 21st Century Education: A Reference Handbook (edited by Thomas Good), and Education Policy Analysis Archives.
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