What could be the reason that some students top the class and while others keep staggering at the bottom , no matter how hard they try. Various research in this topic set out to find the differences between the two extremes and the results have been summed up in this post. Read on.

Self-regulation refers to self-generated thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are oriented to attaining goals (Zimmerman, 2000)

Self regulation is not a mental ability or an academic performance skill; rather it is the self directive process by which learners transform their mental abilities into academic skills. The learners who use SRL are proactive in their efforts rather than others who are reactive to the situations. The proactive ones are guided by setting personal goals and using task related strategies such as :

  1. Self evaluation
  2. Organizing and Transforming content
  3. Goal setting and planning
  4. Seeking information
  5. Keeping records and monitoring
  6. Environmental structuring
  7. Self Consequences
  8. Rehearsing and memorising
  9. Seeking help from peers, teachers, adults
  10. Reviewing test, notes and notebooks.

Basic Model for SRL :

  1. Forethought phase refers to processes and beliefs that occur before efforts to learn
  2. Performance phase refers to processes that occur during behavioral implementation,
  3. Self reflection refers to processes that occur after each learning effort.
There is considerable evidence of increased academic success by learners who set specific proximal goals for themselves


Task analysis involves goal setting and strategic planning. There is considerable evidence of increased academic success by learners who set specific proximal goals for themselves, such as memorizing a word list for a spelling test, and by learners who plan to use spelling strategies, such as segmenting words into syllables.

Self-motivation stems from students' beliefs about learning, such as self-efficacy beliefs about having the personal capability to learn and outcome expectations about personal consequences of learning

For example, students who feel self-efficacious about learning to divide fractions and expect to use this knowledge to pass a college entranceexam are more motivated to learn in a self-regulated fashion. Intrinsic interest refers to the students' valuing of the task skill for its own merits, and learning goal orientation refers to valuing the process of learning for its own merits. Students who find the subject matter of history, for example, interesting and enjoy increasing their mastery of it are more motivated to learn in a self-regulated fashion.


Self-control refers to the deployment of specific methods or strategies that were selected during the forethought phase and includes :

  • Imagery
  • Self Instruction
  • Attention focusing
  • Task strategies ( Check the list above )

Self observation refers to self recording personal events or self experimentation to find out the cause of these events.

For example, students are often asked to self-record their time use to make them aware of how much time they spend studying. A boy may notice that when he studied alone, he finished his homework more quickly than when studyingwith a friend.To test this hypothesis the boy could conduct a self-experiment in which he studied parallel lessons alone and in the presence of his friend to see whether his friend was an asset or a liability.


Self-evaluation, refers to comparisons of self-observed performances against some standard, such as one's prior performance, another person's performance, or an absolute standard of performance.

Causal attribution, which refers to beliefs about the cause of one's errors or successes, such as a score on a mathematics test.

Attributing a poor score to limitations in fixed ability can be very damaging motivationally because it implies that efforts to improve on a future test will not be effective. In contrast, attributinga poor math score to controllable processes, such as the use of the wrong solution strategy, will sustain mo- tivation because it implies that a different strategy may lead to success.

The whole model of SRL is cyclical in sense that the end result affects the forethought process of another task.

For example, students who set specific proximal goals are more likely to self- observe their performance in these areas are more likely to achieve in the target area and will display higher levels of self-efficacy than students who do not set goals

The reason why SRL is important

Self-regulation in the form of instructions and motoric strategies are transferred from the parent to the child during encounters using such instructional techniques as modeling, guided practice, and verbal instruction. The adult gradually withdraws support as the child internalizes the self-regu- latory functions. This account seems particularly compelling because it suggests that self-regulation is not an idiosyncratic product of a child’s own discovery experiences, but rather, it is a culturally transmitted method for optimizing and controlling learning events. But what about the modern era, when child has to learn these strategies all by himself.

I think that by learning about the process we can intuitively devise ways to hack the process for our benefit. The purpose of this post was to guide fellow students who might attribute their low scores to their some immutable quality or lack of motivation.

References :

  1. Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview - Barry. Zimmerman