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Consider two students working in the school library media center. One child is sitting at a table surrounded by stacks of books, but twirling a pencil, yawning, and watching the clock tick rather than focusing on her assignment. Another student is sitting on the floor drawing a concept map on a large piece of flip chart paper while comparing a model ship to a photograph in a book.


Like the second child in our scenario, life long learners are proactive, independent, and self-motivated. However many more of today's learners are not able to effectively self-regulate their learning. They lack key learning processes such as goal setting, time management, learning strategies, self-evaluation, self-attributions, and self-motivational beliefs. In some cases, simply making students aware of the need for self-control is enough to improve their ability to function independently. However students must also acquire skills in the process of self-regulation.

This page addresses the following questions: What is self-regulation? What are characteristics of self-regulated learners? How do students become self-regulated learners? How is self-regulated learner associated with information fluency? How can school library media specialists promote self-regulation?

What is self-regulation?

A key element of the human personality, Bandura (1977) defined self-regulation as the ability to control our own behavior. Self-regulation involves three steps:

Self-regulated learning is the deliberate planning and monitoring of the cognitive and affective processes involved in completing academic tasks (Corno and Mandinach, 1983). According to Winne (1995), most effective learners are self-regulating.

Yang (1993) found that high regulatory students:

What are characteristics of self-regulated learners?

Much work has been done in the field of self-regulation by Barry J. Zimmerman a professor at the Center of the City University of New York. He states that self-regulation is the "self-directive process by which learners transform their mental abilities into academic skills." (Zimmerman, 2002)

Self-regulated learners are “metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviorally active participants in their own learning process” (Zimmerman, 1989, p. 329). To accomplish their goals, learners set personal goals, perform strategically, monitor their progress, and adapt their approach. These skills are essential for life-long learners. Whether managing a business or developing a work of art, people must be self-reliant. Zimmerman identified a number of strategies for self-regulation:

According to Schunk and Zimmerman (1998), self-regulation is not a specific mental ability, instead it involves a series of component skills including:

How do students become self-regulated learners?

In Becoming A Self-Regulated Learner, Zimmerman (2002) identifies how a student's use of specific learning processes, level of self-awareness, and motivational beliefs combine to produce self-regulated learners.

Forethought Phase. This phase sets the stage for performance and involves task analysis and self-motivation. Students identify the requirements of an assignment, set goals, and plan strategies for use in their learning. For example, they may identify three questions they wish to answer and use specific Internet search strategies to locate information to address these questions. Students become self-motivated through intrinsic interest in a topic or through self-efficacy beliefs such as the expectation that answering a series of questions will lead them to a satisfying conclusion.

Performance Phase. Self-control and self-observation are elements of the performance phase. Self-control refers to acting on the strategies outlined in the forethought phase, while self-observation involves noting and thinking about progress. The learner may also experiment with ideas. For example a student might notice that a Venn diagram works well for making comparisons and apply this technique to other aspects of a project.

Self-reflection Phase. This phase involves self-judgment and self-reaction. Learners draw comparisons about their performance against some standard when they self-evaluate. They may also search for causes of errors and attempt to attribute their problems to particular causes. The key to self-judgment is sustaining motivation by identifying strategies that can be used to address deficiencies. Self-reaction involves how a person responds to their performance. Adaptive reactions involve students making adjustments to increase their learning by modifying a method of learning such as shifting from a brainstormed list of ideas to creation of a concept map.

How is self-regulated learner associated with information fluency?

By acquiring specific strategies, students can learn to take control over their thinking, behavior, and environment. As they become increasingly self-regulated, learners shift their focus from comparing themselves with others to judging their performance against their personal goals. They are also able to work independently on increasingly complex problems and projects. These characteristics are all associated with information fluency.

Students must be able to adapt to changing learning environments and self-regulate in the following areas:

As self-regulating students work their way through the information inquiry process, they are constantly asking themselves reflective questions such as:




How can school library media specialists promote self-regulation?

As school library media specialists partner with teachers to develop learning experiences for children and young adults, guidance can be provided to support self-regulated learning:

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