Which study skills strategies can improve students’ academic performance?
Page 8: Self-Regulation
Arguably the most important of all classroom skills influenced by the executive functions is the ability to survey a problem situation and determine the strategies needed to address it.
Self-regulation strategies are those that students use to select, monitor, and use learning strategies. Successful students typically learn to self-regulate their learning early on; they understand how, when, and why to use a given strategy. On the other hand, many students with learning difficulties forget to use academic strategies or tend to use same, often ineffective, strategy for all academic tasks. To be successful, these students must assume responsibility for their own learning. They can do so by learning how to self-regulate their behavior. Four self-regulation strategies are highlighted in the table below.
- Provides more immediate feedback to students than is possible when teachers evaluate the behavior
- Clearly depicts improvement over time
- Engages students
- Increases students’ awareness of their own behavior
Some ways students can monitor their progress are:
Students can create encouraging or guiding statements for different types of situations, such as:
- Starting or working through a task or problem (“What do I need to solve this problem? I need to use the formula d=t x r. First, I need to”…)
- Coping with a difficult situation (“I forgot that my paper is due on Wednesday. Stay calm. If I complete the research tonight, I can complete the draft tomorrow night.”)
- Self-evaluating (“Did I understand what I just read? No, I didn’t. I need to reread the paragraph.”)
- Rewarding oneself (“I studied hard and did well on my test. I’m going to watch TV for an hour.”)
Goal-setting helps students understand what they are striving for. It can increase student attention, motivation, and effort. For students who struggle with completing tasks on time, the best goals might be those that can be accomplished fairly quickly (i.e., short-term goals). When long-term goals are needed, the teacher can help the student by creating a series of short-term goals that lead up to the long-term goal. When setting a goal, students should:
- Identify appropriate goals (e.g., one that is not too easy or too difficult; one that is specific enough to measure)
- Develop plans for meeting goals and monitoring progress
- Implement the plans
- Self-monitor progress toward meeting the goal
- Revise the goals when needed
After completing a task or achieving a goal, students can reward themselves with reinforcers that are:
- Tangible (e.g., ice cream)
- Social (e.g., a night out with friends)
- Activity-related (e.g., watching television)
Although each of these strategies can be used alone, they can also be used in combination. For example, a student can combine self-monitoring and self-instruction. If the student is not making progress, he could ask himself why and talk himself through the issue. Or he could use self-instruction to reassure himself that he will try harder and do better next time. Self-regulation strategies can also be effectively combined with other strategies. For example, a student might reinforce himself for using fix-up strategies to monitor his comprehension.
To illustrate differences in the self-regulation skills of Hannah, Erin, and Kyra, the table below outlines their responses to questions about the four self-regulation strategies discussed on this page. Although Hannah does not indicate that she explicitly checks her grades or sets goals, she is always aware of how she is performing academically and responds accordingly. Notice also that Hannah has moved beyond providing herself with extrinsic rewards and is now motivated to complete a task for the intrinsic rewards. On the other hand, Erin rarely employs self-regulation strategies, except for using self-reinforcement to motivate herself to study. Although Kyra does report using self-regulation strategies, she tends to focus more on improving homework grades than on improving study skills strategies for tests.
|A Comparison of the Use of Self-Regulation Strategies||Hannah
|Self-monitoring||If grades don’t meet expectations, she tries harder.||She doesn’t keep track of her progress, and this has been a source of frustration for her.||She checks grades using an online system made available through school.|
|Self-instruction||She talks herself through the steps of a math problem.||She has a hard time talking herself through a task because she has difficulty breaking down tasks.||Only occasionally does she talk herself through the steps of a math problem.|
|Goal-setting||Her goal is to stay on top of all academic classes and not fall behind.||She does not set learning goals because she was never taught how to do so.||She sets goals for the grades she want to achieve by the end of the nine-week grading period or by the end of the semester.|
|Self-reinforcement||She uses intrinsic rewards (e.g., feeling satisfied and being able to relax when something has been completed).||She rewards herself with a snack or allows herself to watch five minutes of TV after she studies for twenty-five minutes.||She rewards herself with a snack or a break.|
Karen Harris and Mary Anne Prater discuss the importance of self-regulation strategies.
Karen Harris, PhD
Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Mary Anne Prater, PhD
Brigham Young University
- A meta-analysis focusing on the use of self-regulation strategies by students with ADHD suggests that the use of such strategies improved their academic productivity and accuracy.
(Reid, Trout, & Schartz, 2005)
- Middle school students with ADHD were taught self-monitoring strategies (i.e., student log, self-monitoring checklists) to help improve organizational skills related to classroom preparation and homework completion. All students showed improvement, performing as well as typically performing students in the class, even after the self-monitoring forms were eliminated.
(Gureasko-Moore, DuPaul, & White, 2007)
- A review of twenty-three studies involving self-monitoring strategies and students with LD suggests that these strategies are effective for increasing on-task behaviors and academic productivity.
When teachers are deciding which self-regulation strategies would be most beneficial to teach, it’s important that they keep in mind individual students’ needs and classroom expectations.
To learn more about self-regulation strategies, we encourage you to view the IRIS Module: