The Trajectory of Scholarship About Self-Regulated Learning
by Philip H. Winne — 2017
The trajectory of scholarship about self-regulated learning (SRL) originates in mid-19th-century writings about learners’ sense of responsibility in self education. Although Descartes’s 17th-century writings implied mental activities consistent with metacognition, a central feature of SRL, these were inarticulate until Flavell and colleagues’ studies circa 1970. Since then, research on metacognition and its role in SRL has approximately doubled every decade. Foundations for modeling SRL include Skinner’s behaviorism, which acknowledged learners’ choices about reinforcers for behavior, and Bandura’s social learning theory, with its construct of agency. Research in the 1980s gathered data about SRL mainly using interviews, self-report questionnaires, and think-aloud protocols. These methods were quickly supplemented by observations of behavior and traces of learning activities tightly coupled to features of SRL. Today, SRL research is prominent across a broad spectrum of educational topics. Its importance will grow with trends toward lifelong learning and self-directed inquiries that survey vast information on the Internet, where students control what and how they will learn. Implications for future research include reconceptualizing “error variance” as arising partially due to SRL and capitalizing on software technologies that massively increase access to data about how and to what effects learners self-regulate learning.
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