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:
- Checklists (Click here for examples)
- Self-monitoring sheet (Click here for examples)
- Self-monitoring log (Click here for examples)
When self-monitoring behavior, a student can use a checklist that has been developed for the entire class, such as a checklist for editing a paper. However, if a particular student is struggling with a task such as turning in homework, he can use an individualized checklist that targets this specific behavior. Examples of each of these checklists are below. Although the teacher might create these types of checklists for the students initially, the goal is for students to take responsibility for their own learning and self-monitor by creating their own physical or mental checklists.
Editing a Paper
When I edit my paper, I need to be sure to use the COPS procedure:
- Did I capitalize the first word of each sentence?
- Did I capitalize all proper names?
- Is my handwriting neat?
- Overall, does the paper look neat?
- Did I put in commas?
- Did I put punctuation at the end of each sentence?
- Did I spell all words correctly?
An individualized self-monitoring checklist can be useful for a student who has difficulty remembering to turn in homework.
Name ______________________________ Week _______________
Put a checkmark for each class for which I turned in my homework. Put N/A if I did not have homework.
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Below is an example of a self-monitoring sheet that students can use to evaluate their progress.
Name _______________________________________ Date ________________
Did I Take Good Notes Today?
|Did I date and label the notes?||Yes No|
|Did I write key words or phrases instead of complete sentence?||Yes No|
|Did I use abbreviations?||Yes No|
|Did I write down information the teacher wrote on the board?||Yes No|
|Did I listen for accent cues and write down that information?||Yes No|
|Did I listen for number cues and write down that information?||Yes No|
|Did I put a star by the information that the teacher stressed?||Yes No|
|Did I draw a blank for missed information?||Yes No|
|Did I ask the teacher, a peer, or check the text for the missing information?||Yes No|
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Students can monitor their progress using a self-monitoring log such as the one below.
Name _________________________________ Date ______________
|Did I turn my homework in for every class today?||Yes No|
|If not, for which classes did I not turn in my homework?|
|What did I do to help me turn in my homework?|
|What did I do that resulted in me not turning in my homework?|
|What can I do tomorrow to help me turn in all of my homework?|
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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
Transcript: Karen Harris, PhD
Most children with learning difficulties, learning disabilities, or other sources of learning problems need a strategy to help them begin, a strategy to keep them on-task, a strategy to monitor what they’re producing, a strategy to evaluate what they’re producing, and also they need to know how to reinforce themselves for doing well. So strategies are not just task-specific. Strategies are also for self-regulation. How do I get started? How do I set goals? How do I monitor my progress? How do I know when I’m done? So we teach in tandem self-regulation strategies with specific academic strategies. Students with learning problems and/ or disabilities need far more than simply being told these are the steps to do the task. For these students to succeed, they need self-regulation strategies that they can use in conjunction with those task strategies. There are four basic self-regulation strategies that all students need to be able to use: goal-setting, self-monitoring, effective use of self-instructions or self-talk, and self-reinforcement.
Transcript: Mary Anne Prater, PhD
The major advantage of self-regulation is that it places responsibility back on the learner for his or her academic or behavior performance. Teaching these strategies moves students away from external teacher control and toward self-regulation by requiring that the students participate actively in their own learning and take responsibility. For example, instead of a teacher monitoring a student’s academic progress, the student can be taught to self-monitor his or her academic progress. This helps them become both more independent, as well as it can be extremely motivating to students. Some of the areas of self-regulation include self-monitoring, self-reinforcement, self-assessment, self-recording, so forth. I like to talk about self-monitoring as involving both self-recording and self-assessment. So the student judges whether they engaged in a particular behavior, which would be self-assessment. They may ask themselves questions such as “Did I finish my homework?” or “Did I raise my hand when I had a question?” Then the student records—which is the self-recording on a self-monitoring sheet—the answer to that question. Of course, all of this is pre-planned and prompts are generally given to the student, whether it’s just the self-monitoring sheet itself. Sometimes there are auditory cues that are given, so a beep might go off to remind them to ask them the particular question. It depends on the behavior that’s being worked on as to what kinds of prompts are necessary. I’ve even used it with charts or posters on the wall as prompts for students. Self-monitoring doesn’t take much effort on the part of the teacher, and in the long run can really benefit them because the students are responsible, and they are engaged in the task that the teacher may typically do. Another simple example would be self-charting, where rather than the teacher gathering all of the information on students’ performance for the day and recording it on a chart, which is very time-consuming, the students are taught to self-record, and they keep their own charts of their performance. We know through research that self-monitoring can have a powerful effect on changing students’ behavior and on improving their academic skills.
- 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: