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Cognitive Modeling and Self-Regulation of Learning in Instructional Settings

by Marie C. White - 2017

Self-regulation of cognition and behavior is an important aspect of student learning and academic performance in the 21st-century classroom. The purpose of the chapter is to present how an integrated framework of cyclical phases and developmental levels of self-regulated learning play a significant role in modeling and self-regulatory learning as key processes for learning. A review of empirical studies and theoretical models supports the effectiveness of modeling on studentsí self-regulated learning. These studies provide evidence of the critical role of models during instruction as an important contextual factor that can promote self-efficacy, motivation, self-regulation, and achievement. To understand how characteristics of the model, the observer, and reinforcement interact to affect learning and behavior, it is necessary to investigate how social cognitive theory has uniquely contributed to our current understanding of modeling. Critical to effective modeling is the belief that learning and teaching are interactive processes in which both teachers and learners engage in planning, implementing, assessing, and reflecting on the events and outcomes.

Raising teachers awareness of the impact that their self-regulatory instructional practices could have on their students is critical to creating effective learning environments. (Winne & Hadwin, 2008; Zimmerman, 2013). As social models, teachers could use self-regulatory processes to empower learners to achieve high levels of personal, academic, and professional outcomes. Research that spans over 40 years supports the instrumentality of modeling when it is integrated with self-regulation (Zimmerman, 2013). Several of the initial studies conducted by Zimmerman and his colleagues (Zimmerman & Ghozeil, 1974; Zimmerman & Rosenthal, 1974) found that the development of new responses through observation of a model held the greatest potential for teaching cognitive or academic skills. In addition, these early studies provided evidence of the power of cognitive modeling to produce rapid learning, facilitate transfer to new tasks, and increase retention over time. However, up until recently, research studies often placed emphasis on the actions of the model, with little accounting of what the learner should be doing beyond paying attention.

Critical to effective modeling is the belief that learning and teaching are interactive processes in which both teachers and learners engage in planning, implementing, assessing, and reflecting on the process and outcomes. Self-directed and proactive integration of modeling and self-regulation results in a reciprocal interaction when teachers engage in behavior, action, and thoughts while demonstrating a task, and concurrently, learners engage behaviorally, cognitively, and resourcefully while attending to, retaining, producing, and sustaining motivation during the process of learning (White & Bembenutty, 2014, 2016). Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to the degree to which students are metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviorally active participants in their own learning processes (Zimmerman, 2013).

From the social cognitive view, effective learning encompasses a cyclical process at various developmental levels of self-regulated learning (Zimmerman, 2000). The purpose of this article is to present a social cognitive view of modeling for instruction as an integral part of developing self-regulated learners in the classroom. Emphasis is placed on teacherlearner interactions that represent what the model (teacher, peer, or other) is doing to engage and monitor learners during observational learning segments. An integrated framework that incorporates both cyclical phases and hierarchal levels of attaining self-regulatory competence, with an emphasis on cognitive modeling, is applied to training competent, independent, self-regulated learners in 21st-century learning environments. The article provides an overview of the cyclical phases and developmental levels of SRL, a discussion of the significance of the role of cognitive modeling and SRL as key processes for learning, and detailed description of an integrated framework for SRL that emphasizes learner engagement during modeling segments.


Instruction in SRL serves as a framework for metacognitive knowledge and skill acquisition that in turn develops students who are not only college and career ready but lifelong learners (White & DiBenedetto, 2015). Teaching and learning take place within a context, and within that context exists an interactive process of modeling and observational learning that can influence students self-regulation. Educators can set the pace for learning by paying closer attention to students behavior as they progress through the cyclical phases of self-regulation (i.e., forethought, performance, reflection) and advance through the levels of attaining self-regulatory competency (i.e., observation, emulation, self-control, and self-regulation). Instruction that supports SRL accounts for individual differences in students and, as a result, closely monitors students responses during modeling to assess SRL competency at each level.


Zimmermans (2000) SRL model involves three cyclical phases during which learners engage in forethought, performance, and self-reflection. During the forethought phase, learners analyze the task for value and level of difficulty, identify appropriate learning strategies, set academic goals, examine their self-efficacy beliefs, and predict outcome expectancies. During the performance phase, learners self-monitor their academic progress, engage in academic delay of gratification and self-control, seek help when it is needed, and provide self-instruction. During the self-reflection phase, learners engage in self-evaluation, assessing their level of self-satisfaction of academic outcomes and adapting their performance depending on their attributions (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Zimmermans Cyclical Model of Self-Regulation of Learning

Adapted to include help-seeking in the performance phase from Phases and subprocesses of self-regulation. Motivating self-regulated problem solvers, by B. J. Zimmerman and M. Campillo, 2003, p. 239. In J. E. Davidson & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The nature of problem solving, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Copyright by Cambridge University Press.


To develop self-regulatory competence, teachers guide their students through four levels of SRL development: (1) observation, (2) emulation, (3) self-control, and (4) self-regulation (Zimmerman, 2000, 2013). The teacher models the desired behavior while supporting the students to engage in the behavior, gradually shifting to student-initiated self-control and self-regulation (Pape, Bell, & Yetkin-Özdemir, 2013). Self-regulation is attained when the learner can work on a task independently (White & DiBenedetto, 2015; Zimmerman, 2013). Observational learning from competent models, accompanied by support from those models, is significant to the process of attaining self-regulatory competency. Throughout the process, learners move from requiring additional modeling to retaining an image of the models actions while doing the task.


To provide teachers with a systemic and measurable approach to individual SRL development, Figure 2 depicts how cyclical phases of self-regulation are situated within the levels of attaining self-regulatory competency.

Figure 2. Integrated model of self-regulated learning


White, M. C., & DiBenedetto, M. K. (2015). Self-regulation and the common core: Application to ELA standards. New York, NY: Routledge.

The process initially gives teachers control of the learning environment by carefully pacing students through each level of competency status and guiding them individually through the cyclical phases of SRL. This approach does not assume that everyone gets it at the observation level and is ready to move to the emulation level, where some retention of the modeled behavior is required to complete the task. The teacher recognizes that some students will require more time at the observation level than others before the modeled strategy is sufficiently retained to work a bit more independently.


The social cognitive view considers observational learning through modeling a fundamental aspect of learning (Bandura, 1997). Bandura (1977) stated,

Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: From observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action. (p. 22)

Schunk (2001) referred to modeling as the process by which observers pattern their thoughts, beliefs, strategies, and actions after those displayed by one or more models. By observing live or symbolic models, learners form cognitive representations of the skills and form a basic understanding of how to replicate them (Schunk & Usher, 2013). Evidence derived from studies conducted by Schunk (1998) support the critical role of models during instruction as an important contextual factor that can promote self-efficacy, motivation, self-regulation, and achievement. Likewise, Zimmerman (2013) found that when models verbalized a rationale for their actions, the addition to their demonstration could significantly augment their power as instructors; this is what he later called cognitive modeling. The role of feedback is central to a learners emulation, and it is an essential part of reaching self-regulatory competence.

Modeling is a fundamental pedagogical process of a successful teaching and learning experience. It is inconceivable to enter classrooms where teachers are not engaging in modeling in one form or another. Textbooks introducing teachers to their profession include modeling as a practice aspiring teachers should understand and be able to perform in school (e.g., Ormrod, 2011). Yet, in spite of its pedagogical prominence, a research-based understanding of what modeling is and how it is demonstrated remains unclear to those who often report they have modeled a specific task or behavior (White & Bembenutty, 2014). Theoretical and empirical findings, and instructional approaches have recorded evidence of the effects modeling has produced over the last several decades (Boekaerts & Corno, 2005; Graham, Harris, & McKeown, 2013; Kitsantas, Zimmerman, & Cleary, 2000). Modeling has become one of the scientific-based implementations frequently used in the education of children with autism (Delano, 2007; Odluyurt, 2013).

Studies show that self-regulated learning can be learned from instruction and modeling by parents, teachers, coaches, and peers (Zimmerman, 2002; Zimmerman & Rosenthal, 1974). Teachers are charged with providing the context in which self-regulatory skills can be taught and developed, keeping in mind that learning how to be self-regulated takes effective modeling and time. Zimmerman and Schunk (1997) maintained that initially, students just might need extensive modeling, corrective feedback, and practice in addition to having instructional phases periodically repeated due to not getting it the first time a skill is modeled. The integrated framework for SRL incorporates extensive modeling and remodeling accompanied by corrective feedback for those students who take more time to retain an image of the modeled behavior. Therefore, it is in the best interest of learners that teachers and teacher candidates proactively engage in explicit modeling guided by specific outcome expectations and know what adjustments need to be made when the outcome expectations have not been met.


Classroom teaching that promotes interactive modeling (Marzano, 2007; Wilson, 2012) incorporates a combination of elements of effective teaching, which include modeling positive behaviors, engaging students in active learning, and immediately assessing their understanding. When modeling, teachers maintain a keen awareness of their students behaviors in order to monitor their engagement and motivation, going beyond the status of listening and paying attention. Motivation significantly influences observational learning because learners are more likely to retain and reproduce modeled actions that are important to them. Studies conducted using the self-regulated strategy development model to teach writing strategies have provided evidence of the significant effect of teachers modeling and the students participation as a helper in the planning of the first draft of a writing assignment (Harris, Graham, & Santangelo, 2013).

Learning complex skills requires specific actions to be observed with intention rather than simply watched. The influence of modeling on learning and performance depends on several factors, including the learners developmental status (Bandura, 1986), attention span, information processing, perception of usefulness, self-assessments of competencies, and capabilities of learning the specific skill. Observers are more likely to adopt skills from modeled behaviors that are useful and lead to successes rather than those that result in failure (Schunk, 2004).


Recognizing that there are different types of models is critical to the successful use of observational learning as an instructional strategy. Whether the models are live or symbolic, observational learning has proved to be effective with students of all age groups and in various school subjects and professional development programs (Kitsantas et al., 2000; Schunk, 1998; Zimmerman 2013). Expert and peer modeling have both been found to be effective influences in helping students self-regulate their learning (Zimmerman, Bonner, & Kovach, 1996).

Mastery models are effective when the task requires a competent and effective demonstration of a skill or strategy. Students perform competently from the outset, verbalizing a high level of confidence and ability along with a positive attitude (Schunk, 1998). Many students benefit from quick and rapid demonstrations and do not require a model who is transparent regarding challenges of completing the task successfully.

In contrast, coping models show their hesitations, express their doubts, and make errors, but gradually improve their performance and gain self-confidence. They illustrate their persistence and effort, and they verbalize positive self-reflections showing their observers how obstacles can be overcome (Braaksma, Rijlaarsdam, & Van den Bergh, 2002). In the early stages of learning, many students perceive themselves to be similar in ability to coping models. Graham, Harris, and Troias (1998) instructional sequence of strategies for writing is to first model the strategy; however, while the teacher models how to use the writing strategy, he or she includes coping model behaviors such as correcting errors and increasing self-efficacy by verbalizing self-reinforcement statements. Teachers who take on the attributes of a coping model by admitting to and correcting errors show students that even those who are experts are capable of making and correcting errors.

Peer models have been an effective way to help students learn and shape self-efficacy beliefs by their instructive function (Bandura, 1986). Peer models have been used to promote social learning experiences (Strain, 1981) with withdrawn children as well as training college students in self-regulation strategies (Orange, 1999). Schunk and Hanson (1985) connected peer modeling with self-efficacy, showing that peer models can enhance childrens self-efficacy for learning cognitive skills better than adult models. Elementary school children who had experienced difficulties learning to subtract were placed in three groups. One group observed a peer model learn subtraction with regrouping operations, the second group observed an adult model demonstrate the operations, and the third group did not observe any model. Children evaluated their self-efficacy for learning to subtract and then participated in a program of instruction. The results showed children who observed peer models had higher self-efficacy for learning the math operation as well as higher posttest self-efficacy and subtraction skills when compared with the teacher or no model conditions. However, observation of a teacher model had a better outcome than no model at all. One application of this outcome would be with younger students who may not initially feel capable of editing their written work. However, upon observing a peer self-edit using the interactive whiteboard or observing their teacher think aloud as he or she edits a writing sample, they are able increase their understanding of what is needed to perform the task.

Symbolic models can include either a real or fictional character demonstrating the behavior via movies, books, television, radio, online media, and other media sources. Video modeling has its origins in Banduras (1977) theory of social learning. The approach is based, in part, on the principle of allowing participants to view appropriate behaviors exhibited by relevant models in an environment that is relatively free from distraction. Many teacher education programs, state departments of education, and professional organizations have included extensive analysis of behaviors of models within the context of situations relevant to the specific area of study, including self-modeling (Rymal, Martini, & Ste-Marie, 2010; Star & Strickland, 2007).


Research studies provide evidence on how information is conveyed through modeling and can be internalized by students to self-regulate and produce increased learning (Schunk, 2001). As stated earlier, learners acquisition of new skills becomes self-regulated in four sequential levels: observation, emulation, self-control, and self-regulation. The first two levels are in the context of social learning experiences with strong model presence and participation to prepare the learner to independently attain higher level skills. The learner can move from observation to emulation only after observation of modeling has led to retention of a clear image of how a skill is to be performed. Teachers who include assessment of an individual learners retention during and following the observation of a specific skill are able to differentiate which students are able to move ahead to emulating the modeled behaviors from those who need to remain at the observation level. Pape and colleagues (2013) argued that teachers should be more explicit with modeling and discussion of mathematical thinking and strategic behavior during early stages of learning. They proposed a framework for teaching literacy skills across grades and within content areas that take students SRL development into consideration when making pedagogical shifts.

Observational learning through modeling requires attention, retention, production, and motivation. Specific actions learned through observation require practice and feedback for skill refinement. Models who explain their judgments are more effective than models that display specific behaviors without verbalizations. How well a teacher models a new strategy can determine how well the observers are able to apply it. Verbalizing a strategy or thinking aloud can be used to achieve several goals: (1) it provides a method of inquiry to understand cognitive processing; (2) it serves as a method of instruction; and (3) it is an aspect of social interaction. Think-alouds have evolved to become an interactive experience between teacher and student during observational learning.

Observing models can have a significant influence on students who are uncertain about their own abilities. Teachers can serve as writing models and show students that even the best writers require strong models to emulate when creating new text (Gallagher, 2014; Griffith, 2010). In classrooms where writing is a cooperative effort, students also have opportunities to observe peers as they write. These vicarious experiences help create self-efficacy beliefs when students are uncertain about their own abilities (Pajares, Johnson, & Usher, 2007; Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2014).

Benefits of modeling have been evident in childrens mathematical skill learning. Children who observed an adult verbalize and model division solution steps while applying them directly to a problem showed higher achievement and self-efficacy regarding the specific performance than children who only received written instructions. Schunk and Cox (1986) attributed outcomes of higher self-efficacy and achievement for students who observed adult models verbalize strategy descriptors and then proceeded to self-verbalize during problem solving.


A context in which models of instruction focus on the students use of specific processes to guide their learning diminishes the differences in personal talent and skill and enhances motivation in every learner. According to Bandura (2006), Self-regulation is the capability of interest. The issue is not whether one can do the activities occasionally, but whether one has the efficacy to get oneself to do them regularly in the face of different types of dissuading conditions (p. 311). Few students naturally self-regulate, which means they do not know how to plan, monitor, and assess their learning. To promote better learning habits and strengthen study skills, educators who encourage self-regulation provide opportunities for students to take charge of their learning. For teachers to encourage SRL processes in their students, they themselves must be self-regulated in their emotions, behaviors, and teaching and learning. The self-regulated teacher is essential to a well-managed instructional setting; how he or she sets the stage, directs the performance, and provides feedback are essential components of an SRL environment (DiBenedetto & White, 2013)

Present and future teachers are required to immerse themselves in the context of real school life to experience the interactive dynamics of teaching and learning all the way from the classroom to the principals office and out into the community. The 21st-century teacher must consistently evaluate how his or her beliefs, goals, values, perceptions, behaviors, classroom management, social relations, and arrangement of physical space impact the students understanding of the classroom. Social cognitive theory raises our awareness of the influence of contextual factors on learning and any attempt to self-regulate (Bandura, 1986). Learning environments that promote SRL are instructional settings where teachers and learners are not powerless victims of context, but rather proactive managers of their learning.

Research provides a substantial amount of evidence that self-regulation assists students in taking charge of their own learning; consequently, SRL strategies ought to be valuable for teachers as well. Teachers who focus on their own self-regulated learning skills are increasingly aware of their own teaching practices. Self-regulated teachers take charge of their own learning and through modeling encourage their students to do the same (Renyi, 1996). Table 1 provides an overview of some of the behaviors attributed to self-regulated teaching practices (White & DiBenedetto, 2015).

Table 1. Self-Regulated Teaching Practices

SRL Strategic Behavior

Self-Regulated Teaching Practices


Teachers self-monitor during instruction using metacognitive strategies to monitor their own behavior. The strategic use of self-monitoring is different from changes that result from reflection. Knowing that it is appropriate to change direction when students are not responding to a specific learning segment guides the teacher to not persist in failure but make the necessary changes to bring positive learning outcomes.

Consistent and Repetitive Modeling

Teachers whose personal beliefs incorporate the impact of vicarious or observational learning, the reality of contextual influences, and the effectiveness of consistent and repetitive modeling of self-regulatory strategies can regulate their own learning and that of the students. The self-regulated teacher pays close attention to the observational behaviors of students, making sure students are trained in observational learning strategies prior to modeling instructional segments.

Exhibits High Levels of Teacher Efficacy

Teachers beliefs in their efficacy impact their general orientation toward the education process as well as their specific instructional activities. Overall, teachers who have confidence that their students will benefit from their teaching are more effective in working with a diverse population of students.

Builds Self-Efficacy in

Teachers help students examine their self-efficacy beliefs accurately, making realistic evaluations of their abilities specific to the task at hand. Asking students to rate their own self-efficacy is one way to raise their awareness of the importance of knowing their capabilities prior to beginning a task. Reminding students of their past successes with a similar task helps engage them in attempting a more difficult version of the same type of task.

Promotes Student Autonomy by Providing Choices

Teachers promote independent learning, knowing that both self-regulation and self-efficacy require learning environments where student autonomy and choice are factors. These teachers recognize that when students perceive some control over their own learning, their persistence and effort are increased, and they structure choices that are meaningful in relation to the goals for the specific task.

Provides Opportunity and Support for SRL Practice

Teachers prepare students to handle the responsibilities of becoming self- regulated learners by teaching them how to learn. These teachers use a variety of instructional elements for SRL training and consistently provide extensive opportunities for exercising self-regulation with supervision and support for as long as necessary for students to become proficient.

Recognizes Levels of SRL Competency Development

Teachers recognize that not all of the students are at the same level of self-regulatory competency, and they provide differential support for individuals for whom the process might take more time. By controlling the instructional patterns of the classroom, as well as the expectations for each learner, teachers can focus on each level of learning to become self-regulated as a process and not just as an outcome.

Maintains Student-Centered Learning Environment

Teachers intentionally remove the all-knowing authority figure image from the classroom and integrate student-centered activities in their instructional contexts, believing that students should be active participants in their own learning. Experienced teachers who readily experiment with new teaching methods and closely monitor the outcomes are more likely to promote SRL in their classrooms.

Reflects on Performance Through Self-Evaluation

Teachers consistently reflect on their own performance and make the necessary adjustments to their teaching strategies or seek help when learning outcomes are not satisfactory. Training teachers in reflective teaching strategies has become a significant part of teacher education and professional development. Reflective thinking helps instructors to embrace adaptations, challenge personal beliefs, and adjust instructional pedagogy to meet the needs of individual students.

Partners With Students in Setting Proximal Goals

Teachers give students opportunities to dissect broad goals into smaller proximal goals in order to raise each students self-efficacy and to promote and retain interest in the task. Partnering with students to set measurable, proximal, and achievable goals helps students gauge their progress along with the teacher. Formative assessment has a stronger influence on learning when both the teacher and the student share the responsibility of determining whether or not goals have been reached or if they need to be reset.

Encourages Strategic Help-Seeking

Teachers recognize strategic help-seeking as a sign of academic resourcefulness that leads to successful completion of difficult tasks. Self-regulated teachers are known for their willingness to seek help from peers and superiors and to create a learning environment that facilitates strategic help-seeking.

Provides Effective Feedback

Teachers provide effective feedback of individual progress toward a specific goal, a practice strongly advocated by self-regulation theorists. Consistent and constructive feedback provides the learner with opportunities to adapt their performance during completion of a difficult task rather than to persist to an unsuccessful completion of the task. The self-regulated teacher provides corrective feedback by reteaching and leading students to correct answers and, as a result, increases students motivation to complete the task. In addition, feedback that leads to students self-evaluation and correction increases self-efficacy.

Most teachers are lifelong learners drawing from resources in their teaching environments to inform their work and professional growth (Little, 2007). The role of the self-regulated teacher in the classroom context goes far beyond the scope of the specific components outlined in Table 1. The behaviors that identify teachers who create and maintain a learning environment that promotes self-regulation are acquired over time and often follow many frustrating attempts to manage a classroom before doing a realistic self-evaluation. Pape et al. (2013) integrated the literature on SRL phases and levels as an educational intervention to support SRL in the mathematics classroom. The following framework of an integrated model (White & DiBenedetto, 2015) provides a sequential and cyclical approach to consistently integrating self-regulated learning in classroom settings that include the behavior of the teachers with formative assessment of students engagement.


The integrated framework provides clear directions on how lesson planning within the context of attaining self-regulatory competency can increase students use of self-regulatory learning strategies. The process requires teachers to monitor and pace students at each of the four levels of attaining self-regulatory competence while guiding them individually through the three phases of SRL. This section includes an application of the integrated framework to a generic grouping of students who are learning to accurately rate their self-efficacy for assigned tasks, self-monitor their progress, and self-evaluate their performances upon completion.

Evaluating self-efficacy at the four sequential levels of observation, emulation, self-control, and self-regulation during each phase of forethought, performance, and self-reflection while students are engaged in a task is a form of self-monitoring. As the demands of the task increase, students are encouraged by teachers to identify parts of the task that are particularly challenging and parts of the task that are easily accommodated. Students can be directed to use a

checklist aligning learning goals with self-efficacy ratings such as depicted in Table 2.

Table 2. Self-Efficacy Ratings of Learning Process Goals

Self-efficacy Rating Guide (05, 0 is the weakest)

Sample Question Goal 1: Rephrase Goals Into Question

Column A. Forethought - Can I . . . identify words for which I do not know the meaning using context clues?  

Column B. Performance - Am I . . . identifying words for which I do not know the meaning using context clues?

Column C. Reflection - How well did I identify words for which I do not know the meaning using context clues?

Goal #

Learning process goals

Forethought Can I

Performance Am I


How well did I?



Identify words for which I do not know the meanings using context clues.



Use morpheme clues to define words for which I do not know the meanings.



Monitor my progress by identifying, tracking, and categorizing words for which I do not know the meanings.


The checklist includes learning process goals set by the teacher to serve as guidelines for students to rate their self-efficacy for different parts of the task while they plan (forethought), attempt (performance), and complete (reflection) a specific task. Rephrasing the learning process goals into questions to evaluate self-efficacy helps students fully engage in the process.

At the observation level, the teacher models how he or she would rate his or her self-efficacy for the task during all three phases by asking Can I identify words for which I do not know the meaning using context clues? The teacher thinks aloud, modeling specific inquiry techniques that show he or she is dissecting the demands of the task and evaluating his or her skill set to do the task successfully. Questions such as Do I know what context means? can help direct students attention on how important it is to dissect a task and evaluate whether they have the skills to complete the task before actually trying to do it unsuccessfully. The students help their teacher calculate a self-efficacy rating based on his or her verbalizations during modeling. A shift takes place at the emulation level, when students are supervised while they begin to evaluate their self-efficacy for the task. At the self-control level, students are given less supervision while they practice rating their self-efficacy to become increasingly accurate in ascertaining their skill set for a given task. Self-regulation is attained when students can independently remember to begin each task by rating their self-efficacy for the task with high accuracy. The following section is a detailed description of the process, including teacher actions and students responses.


To engage students in this process, the teacher models how he or she would evaluate his or her self-efficacy for the task. To motivate students to participate in the activity, the teacher provides each student with a copy of the Self-Efficacy Ratings for Learning Process Goals (see Table 2) displayed on the board. During the entire learning segment, sequentially detailed in Table 3, the teacher reminds the students to pay attention as he or she thinks aloud and enters self-efficacy ratings in the appropriate column based on their observations of the teachers actions. Moving through the cyclical phases of self-regulation, the teacher uses thinking aloud (verbal modeling) and visual aids to make his or her thought processes transparent.


Table 3. Teacher Action and Student Responses SRL Cycles: Observation Level


Teacher Action Thinking Aloud

Students Responses



Reads and dissects the learning process goals, emphasizing what he or she can and cannot do, citing strengths and weaknesses for the given task.


Carefully observe teacher while following along on individual copy of self-efficacy rating chart, mindful of the need to retain an image of the modeled behaviors.



Conducts a self-assessment of skills and prior learning experiences as well as self-motivational beliefs.


Note how self-assessments increase or decrease teachers self-efficacy to complete the task successfully.



Rates self-efficacy.


Enter their teachers self-efficacy rating based on what they have observed.



Shifts to performance phase.


Observe the teacher shift to the performance phase and focus attention on the task.



Portrays a coping model struggling to begin the task and shares how misjudging the complexity of the task is diminishing self-efficacy.


Listen for key words that indicate teachers self-efficacy as he or she begins the task.



Explains options when engaged in a task that is too difficult to complete, as a result misjudging ones self-efficacy.


Listen carefully to options and take notes.



Carefully describes choices that include resetting goals to be more attainable; to obtain assistance in reassessing his or her skills for this task.


Listen to teacher describe choices recognizing self-regulated learners do not need to get stuck when they misjudge competency and can reset goals and begin the task again.



Makes the decision to revise and enter self-efficacy rating. Proceeds to reset his or her goals for successful task completion (with help).


Work with teacher to revise and enter self-efficacy ratings and continue to observe as the teacher adjusts goals. Enter new self-efficacy rating in performance column.



Describes choices that led to successful task completion, attributing misjudged self-efficacy rating to poor task analysis and skill assessment.  


React to modeled behavior by posing questions in line with self-reflection and attribution. Comments on choices and adjustments show comprehension of misunderstandings of the process.



Reacts positively to adjustments made before completing the task poorly or persisting in failure. Completes self-efficacy rating for observation level.


Complete self-efficacy rating for observation level.

Students progress from observation level to emulation when they retain and practice the modeled behaviors with only some support. Some students will require repeated observations of the behaviors to replicate the modeled behavior accurately.


At the emulation level, sequentially detailed in Table 4, the students are asked to rate their self-efficacy for attaining the learning goals under the close supervision of the teacher/model.

Table 4. Teacher Action and Student Responses SRL Cycles: Emulation Level


Teacher Action/Close Supervision

Students Actions



Distributes self-efficacy rating chart.


Affirm they are familiar with the self-efficacy rating chart and that they are now focusing on their self-efficacy, not the teacher.



Watches and listens for students to replicate as closely as possible the modeled behaviors.


Work independently or with peers asking for help when needed from appropriate and well-chosen sources.



Listens for students to assess their skills and prior learning experiences as well as indicators of self-motivation beliefs to reach the learning process goals.


Assess skills and prior learning experiences as well as expressing self-motivation beliefs to reach the learning process goals.



Checks for accuracy and monitors each student as they evaluate their strengths and weaknesses to do the task successfully.


Prepare to rate their self-efficacy by rehearsing the modeling segment with peers.



Notes which students will require more attention than others and paces their progression in accordance with their retention of the modeled behaviors.


Self-monitor progress using feedback from teacher and peers to guide behaviors to rate self-efficacy accurately.



Reminds students to recall images of modeled behaviors and pay close attention to the complexity of the task and choose a strategy to complete the task successfully.  


Recall what they observed their teacher do when he or she realized that the task was more difficult that initially thought.  



Poses questions such as Do I need to break goals into subgoals? Is my self-efficacy rating accurate? to motivate students to carefully evaluate their skills to complete the task successfully after they have studied the details.

Take a closer look at the complexity of the task demands and check to see if self-efficacy ratings remain the same as when they were less aware of the task demands.



Reminds students to enter a second self-efficacy rating now that they have reevaluated the demands of the task and their skills to complete the task successfully.


Use reevaluated task demands and skills assessment and enter a second self-efficacy rating.



Assesses which students are able to recall what was observed and accurately emulate the models behaviors.


Think about choices they could make and strategies they could use that would help them reach their goals when the task is more difficult than initially thought.



Encourages decision making based on information gained from self-monitoring to reevaluate self-efficacy and reset goals, with help.


Decide to emulate teachers behavior, make choices to reset goals or seek help if self-efficacy rating was inaccurate.



Evaluates how well individual students were able to attribute success or failure to retention models behavior.


Reminds students to self-evaluate using teacher feedback to rate their overall performance.


Explain how they rated their self-efficacy as related to each learning goal.


Utilize feedback from teacher


Complete self-efficacy chart for emulation level.

Students who successfully emulate the modeled behaviors advance to the self-control level, where the teacher/model is less present and they can work independently to rate self-efficacy aligned with learning.

As they attempt to reference and emulate the image of the modeled segment, students are encouraged to ask questions and work with peers for clarification of confusing parts of the observation. The teacher distributes the same self-monitoring charts (Table 2) used at the observational level. During emulation, the teacher remains close by, observing the students practice rating their self-efficacy for the task as previously observed.


At the self-control level, sequentially detailed in Table 5, the teacher provides materials for students to demonstrate how well they can rate self-efficacy when provided with learning process goals for a similar lesson.

Table 5. Teacher Action and Student Responses SRL Cycles: Self-Control Level


Teacher Action/Minimal Supervision

Students Actions



Makes charts available to students for rating self-efficacy and self-monitoring SRL.


Use familiar method (charts) for rating self-efficacy and self-monitoring SRL.



Observes and evaluates how each student self-directs his or her behaviors to evaluate a task and rate his or her self-efficacy.


Self-direct behaviors to replicate the modeled sequence of behaviors to evaluate a task and rate their self-efficacy.



Remains close by, providing opportunities for learners to exercise personal agency.


Draw from prior experience to inform self-efficacy ratings.



Engages students to complete tasks independently, provides hints when needed to move students forward.


Direct questions to peers.



Looks for evidence of progress monitoring.


Self-monitor by entering ratings into the chart, stopping to evaluate progress.



Displays sensitivity to challenges and obstacles to working independently.


Make adjustments to self-efficacy ratings and strategy choices for completing the task successfully.



Incorporates feedback into self-reflections, pointing out choices made that led to success or failure.


Evaluate and reflect on accuracy in determining strengths and weaknesses for the specific task using notes from self-efficacy rating chart.



Guides learners to carefully self-evaluate future tasks using newly acquired skills for rating self-efficacy.


Evaluate the complexity of the task and how to improve accuracy of self-efficacy ratings for future tasks.

Students who progress through the cyclical phases of self-regulation with automaticity when given a new task are approaching self-regulation of learning and are given opportunities to apply newly learned strategies in multiple settings as they transition to self-regulated competency attainment.

At this point in developing self-regulatory competency, students should be able to independently approach specific tasks applying what they learned about the importance of accurately rating their self-efficacy with less teacher supervision.


At the self-regulation level, sequentially detailed in Table 6, students apply the strategies observed and practiced in previous levels to other settings when self-efficacy ratings are important while setting goals for subsequent tasks.

Table 6. Teacher Action and Student Responses SRL Cycles: Self-Regulation Level


Teacher/Facilitator Action

Students Actions



Encourages students to challenge themselves and take charge of planning their assignments and evaluate their self-efficacy prior to beginning the task using critical thinking and task analysis in other learning environments.


Take the time to accurately assess their strengths and weaknesses for the goals or standards aligned with the task.


Proactively set goals according to their self-efficacy to complete the task successfully.



Works with colleagues to provide opportunities for students to include monitoring of self-efficacy, rating accuracy for assignments across the curriculum as a means toward increasing awareness of their strengths and weaknesses for specific tasks.


Self-monitor their progress toward attaining specific goals; are quick to realize they might have rated their self-efficacy too high and reset their goals, using strategies such as help-seeking to increase accuracy and calibrate their performance.



Monitors students use of self-regulatory strategies, supporting their efforts with praise and attribution connections to successfully increase the accuracy of self-efficacy ratings.


Attribute the inaccuracy or accuracy of self-efficacy ratings to specific choices and actions and apply what they have learned to similar tasks in the future.

They independently and without the presence of the model evaluate their strengths and weaknesses to successfully attain learning process goals. At this level, the teacher becomes a facilitator by providing opportunities for students to use their newly learned strategy outside of the classroom setting.


The current global landscape of educational achievement stimulates comparisons between schools and educational systems, and as a result, the measurement of success is evaluated by the ability to prepare students to perform independently and take charge of their learning. This awareness has motivated many countries to take significant action in reforming their educational systems, with additional emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, and metacognition. As a result, the outcomes include evidence of increased educational achievement (Heining-Boynton & Redmond, 2013; Schleicher, 2011).

This article provides theoretical and empirical research that directly associates modeling and self-regulation as two essential components for teaching effectiveness and academic achievement. Although thinking aloud and verbalizing thoughts during the demonstration of a strategy has become increasingly popular as a most effective practice in raising students awareness and increasing motivation (McKeown & Gentilucci, 2007), in most cases, learner engagement is not monitored and measured with specific outcome expectations.

Educational implications derived from the research conducted for this chapter call for future research to investigate the subtleties of social cognitive modeling, using qualitative and quantitative data to consider the functions of both the model and the observer during the learning segment. Making both the model and the observers fully aware of their functional roles and the behaviors that indicate proactive learning is critical to the success of learners in present-day classrooms. Furthermore, extensive work is required to provide educators with assessment tools to measure the demonstration of the models verbalizations and actions along with how problem-solving and critical thinking exercises are perceived and processed by the observer.


Rather than accepting the evolved representations of cognitive modeling, educators should consider developing a defined and measurable construct of modeling that can be applied to peer modeling, teacher modeling, video modeling, and self-modeling. Measurement of modeling effectiveness and students self-regulation should be incorporated into lesson planning with assessments of specific behavioral actions and responses targeted with outcome expectations for observational level goal attainment. In addition, more emphasis on training teachers how to prepare for observational learning segments would focus their attention on the organization of the task and the elements required to model the task. This involves:


Becoming fully aware that the characteristics of the model are critical to the success of the learning segment and using appropriate models should always be a consideration.


Knowing the observers and how to help them learn more effectively, including planning and using procedures and instructional cues that enhance the models performance and observers engagement.


Accounting for the variables that influence observational learning during modeling. Closely monitoring which cues are influencing student learning and when repetition is necessary.


Following the modeling process, doing a complete self-evaluation pinpointing the variable that enhanced or inhibited observational learning in preparation for the next modeling task.

Making both the model and the observers fully aware of their functional roles and the behaviors that indicate proactive learning is critical to the success of learners in present-day classrooms. The topic of cognitive modeling and self-regulation should stimulate further discussion and generate empirical evidence that can support the validity and practicality for implementation in the 21st-century classroom.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 119 Number 13, 2017, p. 1-26
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21924, Date Accessed: 10/20/2021 2:07:39 AM

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About the Author
  • Marie White
    Nyack College NYC
    E-mail Author
    MARIE C. WHITE is a professor in the Urban Education Center at the Nyack College NYC campus. Dr. White obtained her doctorate from The City University of New York, Graduate Center in educational psychology. She maintains an active research agenda in self-regulation of learning, specifically focusing on teacher candidates in the area of academic help seeking and, more recently, standards-based education. Dr. White has recently published a book, Self-regulation and the Common Core: Applications to ELA Standards, with practical applications of self-regulation of learning to standards-based instruction.
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