- About This Module
- Why Teach Self-Regulation?
- What Is Self-Regulation?
- The Self-Regulation Performance-Based Observation
- The Six Instructional Criteria
About This Module
This professional learning module supports educators in understanding how to support students in developing self-regulation, an intrapersonal competency within the College and Career Competency (CCC) Framework, developed by Drs. Amy Gaumer Erickson and Patricia Noonan.
The Overview describes self-regulation and its components, the research and impacts of the competency, and the need for embedding instruction across school contexts. A performance-based observation tool is included to help you assess students’ ability to self-regulate.
Parts 1–3 of this module contain instructional activities that help students understand key concepts and practice self-regulating. Each part includes a learning target with numerous activities that support the learning target. The Reflect and Apply portion will deepen your knowledge of self-regulation concepts. Part 4 offers suggestions for embedding self-regulation practice opportunities in any classroom. Finally, Part 5 will build your understanding of the College and Career Competency Framework and provide guidance for the adoption and implementation of self-regulation instruction schoolwide.
As you review Parts 1–5 of the module, record your ideas, thoughts, and actions in the Educator Workbook. This workbook contains activities, reflective questions, instructional tools, and assessments that we will refer to throughout the module. After completion of the module, submit your Educator Workbook to earn 9 Continuing Education Units (CEUs).
As you explore the instructional activities, consider how you will deliver self-regulation instruction to your students. The “Teach Students Handouts” are located on page 11 of the Educator Workbook. Think about how you will deliver the instructional activities, noting any adaptations to meet the needs of your students.
Why Teach Self-Regulation?
Teaching self-regulation to students:
- helps students resist distractions, manage their actions, and apply specific strategies to complete tasks;
- builds students’ autonomy, a sense of shared responsibility for their learning, engagement, and motivation;
- empowers students to recognize and address their own mistakes (instead of relying on others);
- supports self-efficacy and goal setting;
- helps students get better grades, learn more, and better avoid unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse; and
- increases students’ ability and interest in planning for continuing education beyond high school.
Adolescents who lack self-regulation are:
- less likely to successfully manage time, effort, and environment to complete tasks efficiently and
- less likely to be able to identify specific barriers that are keeping them from completing tasks/achieving goals.
Sources: Abar & Loken, 2010; Chen & Bembenutty, 2018; Cleary & Chen, 2009; Cleary & Zimmerman, 2012; Dignath et al., 2008; Duckworth et al., 2011; Duckworth et al., 2016; Gaumer Erickson & Noonan, 2018; Ghanizadeh, 2017; Guderjahn et al., 2013; Hadwin et al., 2018; Hattie & Zierer, 2018; Hoyle & Dent, 2018; Jiang & Cameron, 2020; Nota et al., 2004; Oettingen & Gollwitzer, 2010; Panadero et al., 2012; Pintrich, 1999; Ramdass & Zimmerman, 2011; Santangelo et al., 2016; Scholer et al., 2014; Usher & Shunk, 2018; Zimmerman, 2013; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 2014.
Watch this 6-minute overview video, created for educators, which describes self-regulation and why we should teach it. As you watch, complete the guided notes page found on page 2 of your Educator Workbook.
When educators provide explicit self-regulation instruction and practice opportunities, they report that students experience
- improved student responsibility,
- improved goal-setting abilities,
- improved understanding of the relationship between specific actions and progress,
- increased sense of control and awareness of academic achievement, and
- improved academic achievement (Noonan & Gaumer Erickson, 2019).
What Is Self-Regulation?
Self-regulation is an intrapersonal competency that is defined as “a proactive, self-directed process for attaining goals, learning skills, managing emotional reactions, and accomplishing tasks” (Gaumer Erickson & Noonan, 2021a, p. 1). First, consider the terms in the definition. What does it mean to be proactive? What does it mean to be self-directed? Why would this benefit our students academically?
Self-regulation has four components (Gaumer Erickson & Noonan, 2015). Students should receive instruction and ongoing, embedded opportunities to practice each component to improve their self-regulation.
The first component is making a plan, where students begin the process of self-regulation by creating detailed plans for accomplishing a task. What does the student want to accomplish? For example, if a student wants to improve their study skills, they may not have tried different study methods, so first, they must begin to monitor their study habits. One way to do this is to ask them to reflect on the last week. Did they study? If so, when and where? How did they avoid distractions? Based on their performance on the test, are these study techniques effective? It’s also important to consider the study process. Did it include reading the chapter, taking notes, and answering questions? Next, the student may need to try different study techniques (e.g., times of day, reviewing homeworking, creating flashcards, with/without partners) as well as strategies to avoid distractions (e.g., turn off the phone, set a timer, ask a parent to point out when they seem distracted). This reflection leads to developing a detailed study plan that is monitored and adjusted across time.
The second component is monitoring your plan. Students monitor their plans by monitoring both actions and progress. As part of monitoring, students may be asking themselves, “What strategies are working well for me? What is getting in my way? Am I following a good timeline—if not, what changes should I make?”
The third component is adjusting as needed. Students determine if their plan is working or not and make adjustments to the actions in their plan so that they increase the likelihood of meeting their goals or accomplishing their tasks. Students learn how to predict obstacles that could derail their plans and actions they could take to prevent those obstacles from getting them off track, such as using if–then statements and learning how to manage distractions. In other words, is the student taking charge and choosing strategies to help them achieve the goal by addressing specific obstacles? Is the student asking, “What might help me better achieve my goal? How might I manage distractions? Who can I go to if I need help?”
The fourth component is reflecting. Students must think about what is working and what is not going well during the self-regulation process. When students reflect and identify strategies that are helping them self-regulate, they can use those the next time they need to accomplish tasks or are working toward goals. In other words, is the student asking themselves, “What self-regulation strategies worked best for me? Am I on track to achieve my goal? Do I need to adjust my plan?”
It’s important to remember that there are thousands of self-regulation examples. For example, elite athletes self-regulate their workouts to ensure their best performance, performers dedicate substantial time to practice, and employees must ensure that they complete tasks on time without getting distracted. However, in nearly every instance, self-regulation includes planning and monitoring by being self-aware of current behaviors, testing different strategies for self-regulation when needed, and reflecting on progress. By connecting behavior directly to desired outcomes, students build confidence in their ability to perform at high levels, increasing their self-efficacy (i.e., the belief that they can achieve).
Watch as a teacher guides students in thinking about the four components of self-regulation.
The Self-Regulation Performance-Based Observation
How can we determine how well each student self-regulates? The Self-Regulation Performance-Based Observation (Gaumer Erickson & Noonan, 2021b, p. 135), found on page 14 of the Technical Guide, assesses how well students demonstrate self-regulation skills. It is appropriate for students of any age and can show growth over time when combined with explicit instruction and practice. This observation tool can also be used at purposeful intervals to monitor the development of each student. Based on observations across time or in specific situations, the educator rates each student’s self-regulatory behaviors on a scale. The Technical Guide provides additional information on this assessment.
Reflect and Apply: Now that you know a little more about self-regulation and why it is essential, as well as how to measure it, take a few minutes to reflect and consider the below questions (found in the Educator Workbook on page 3):
- What are your reasons for wanting to teach self-regulation?
- What changes do you want to see within your students resulting from teaching self-regulation?
The Six Instructional Criteria
These six instructional criteria (Gaumer Erickson et al., 2017) are the steps for guiding students’ development of self-regulation. These criteria represent how we teach any content, such as helping students learn a new math concept or develop a skill they need to master. Therefore, these criteria should be applied when teaching self-regulation.
Instructional Criterion 1 is facilitating students’ understanding of the competency. For example, if you were introducing a unit on the Civil War in a social studies class or on chemical reactions in a science class, you would start by helping the students understand each topic. Similarly, students need to understand what self-regulation means. You can help students better understand self-regulation by breaking down the definition and facilitating a discussion of key vocabulary within the definition (e.g., self-directed, proactive, and process). When students can define self-regulation in their own words accurately, you have facilitated their understanding of self-regulation.
Instructional Criterion 2 is helping students understand how the competency applies to them personally. For example, how will learning self-regulation help students accomplish tasks or learn to manage their emotions? Students need to understand and believe that learning self-regulation can help them achieve their goals. One way you can assist students in understanding how self-regulation applies to them is to connect practicing self-regulation with something they want or need to learn.
Instructional Criterion 3 is helping students identify their strengths and challenges related to self-regulation. We all have areas in our lives that we regulate well and areas that challenge us. Students are no different. Helping them identify what they are not self-regulating well and the components that challenge them when trying to complete the process of self-regulation will increase their ability to improve self-regulation, even when it’s challenging.
Instructional Criterion 4 provides students with opportunities to practice the process of self-regulation. Students need ongoing opportunities to practice the entire process of self-regulation, including all four components. Students should implement plans that address each component. It is important to note that students can practice the whole process of self-regulation using long or short time frames, such as a long-term goal for earning a semester grade or a short-term goal for staying engaged in a 50-minute class.
Instructional Criterion 5 requires that we provide students with feedback while working to self-regulate. As you notice students starting to apply self-regulation, provide specific feedback that includes what they are doing well and where they might improve.
Instructional Criterion 6 requires providing students with opportunities to reflect on their development of self-regulation, including reflecting on each component. For example, students need to consistently reflect on how well their monitoring efforts are going or how well the action steps in their plan affect their progress. Asking students to reflect on how well they are addressing each component as they practice the process of self-regulation will help them evaluate their development of self-regulation.
Let’s listen to educators describe how they provided self-regulation instruction and the impact on students. Choose at least two educator reflection videos to review.