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Co-regulation and socially shared metacognitive regulation of learning

Research on co-regulation, socially shared metacognitive regulation (SSMR), and socially shared regulation of learning (SSRL), has looked at SRL processes such as monitoring and regulation during collaborative learning. The terms metacognition, self-regulation, and SRL are often used in parallel to each other (Dinsmore, Alexander, & Loughlin, 2008). This is also the case for studies on shared regulation of learning (Panadero & Jarvela, 2015). The study by Dinsmore et al. (2008) has shown important commonalities in the definitions of metacognition, self-regulation, and SRL. That is, the idea that learners monitor their thoughts and actions during learning, and use that information to regulate or control their learning process, was found to be at the core of each of the three concepts. Similarly, co-regulation, SSMR, and SSRL also seem to have an important commonality, that is, all three fields look at the regulation of learning at the group level (Panadero & Jarvela, 2015). Therefore, all three will be described in this section in order to explore collaborative learning as a strategy to improve SRL processes.

Co-regulation refers to the process of acquiring SRL skills (e.g., monitoring, goalsetting, evaluation) through interactions with others when working on a learning task (Hadwin, Jarvela, & Miller, 2011; Hadwin & Oshige, 2011). Co-regulation is based on emergent temporary interactions with peers or teachers who bring different self-regulatory challenges and expertise into the learning process. In these interactions peers and teachers can prompt each other’s regulation processes. The process of coregulation should lead to the internalization of self-regulation processes. For example, a teacher can co-regulate a learning task together with a student to help improve the student’s SRL skills. Research on co-regulation has focused on how learners regulate their learning in interaction with others, how peers can mediate each other’s regulation of learning, and how social context or culture constrains co-regulation processes. Hence, co-regulation can be seen as a strategy to learn how to self-regulate one’s learning.

SSRL is the collective regulation of learning processes that lead to a shared outcome (Hadwin et al., 2011; Panadero & Jarvela, 2015). It is based on the idea of shared regulation during learning, which provides learners with the opportunity to learn from each other’s regulation through modeling (Jarvela et al., 2015). In SSRL the ultimate goal is for individually regulated learners to reach co-constructed planning, monitoring, strategies, evaluation, goal-setting, and beliefs in relation to the learning process with a shared outcome. The process of SSRL could be seen as a strategy to have learners model cognitive and metacognitive strategies during learning in an iterative fashion. This could improve the SRL skills of the other collaborators who in turn can model this behavior to the other learners again. That way, the shared metacognitive regulation of learning is built upon individual’s metacognitive regulation (Winne, Hadwin, & Perry, 2013). Research into SSRL has focused on co-constructed SRL knowledge, beliefs, and procedures, and on shared SRL skills such as planning, monitoring, and evaluation (Hadwin et al., 2011). Thus, SSRL describes how groups can use collaborative learning as a strategy to regulate shared learning processes by co-creating and learning from each other.

SSMR refers to self-regulation skills such as planning, monitoring, and evaluation that students can use to control, coordinate, and regulate their learning (De Backer, Van Keer, & Valcke, 2012, 2015; Hadwin et al., 2011). Like in SSRL, students who are working together in a collaborative setting can collectively undertake regulation activities and transfer them to others. This process leads to metacognitive regulation at a social level which promotes successful collaborative learning (De Backer et al., 2012, 2015). According to De Backer et al. (2015), successful collaborative learning requires and, to some extent, also elicits, students to use metacognitive skills (i.e., SSMR). De Backer et al. (2012) found that students who were learning collaboratively in reciprocal peer tutoring groups, increased their use of metacognitive regulation skills such as monitoring and evaluation during the semester.

De Backer et al. (2015) make a distinction between two levels of metacognitive regulation: low-level and deep-level. Low-level metacognitive regulation concerns exploring the demands of the learning task. Deep-level metacognitive regulation refers to processing the task demand and activation of prior knowledge. Students checking the progress of their group can be considered an example of low-level monitoring whereas reflective comments on the quality of the group’s progress would be deep-level monitoring. In their study the development and use of SSMR by students in reciprocal peer tutoring groups were investigated. Sessions of reciprocal peer tutoring groups were videotaped, coded, and analyzed. Results showed that from co-regulation by the tutor, students progressed into peer co-regulation and shifted to a socially shared regulation focus. Moreover, this socially shared regulation focus was found to be related to orientation, monitoring, and deep-level regulation. De Backer et al. (2015) suggested it would be interesting to develop and investigate interventions that can support SSMR in collaborative learning. Again, SSMR shows how learners can use collaborative learning as a strategy to regulate their learning by sharing it and transferring regulation from a tutor or more advanced learner to themselves.

In a review study by Panadero and Jarvela (2015), 17 articles addressing SSRL, or SSMR, were analyzed in order to characterize SSRL, levels of social regulation, and relations of SSRL with other learning variables such as performance. The results showed that the studies in the review mostly investigated SSRL using qualitative data (i.e., video-recorded observation data) to investigate the joint regulation of cognition, metacognition, behavior, emotion, and motivation. Furthermore, two types of shared regulation of learning were found: co-regulation in which one or more group members regulated other members’ activity, and SSRL in which group members jointly regulated their learning. In addition, a small number of studies in which performance was investigated showed a positive relation between higher levels of SSRL and performance.

Possible interventions to support SSMR and SSRL can be found in work by Jarvela et al. (2015). They identified three strategies to support SSRL: (1) increase learners’ awareness of their own and others’ learning processes (i.e., Radar Tool), (2) support externalization of students’ and others’ learning processes and the interaction (i.e., Ourplanner), and (3) prompt acquisition and activation of regulatory processes (i.e., Ourevaluator).

Interestingly, these SSRL supports could theoretically also support team cognition or mutual cognitive interdependence. In addition, this relation between team cognition and SSRL could also be explained the other way around - without team cognition, SSRL would probably be ineffective. Support for awareness of each other’s learning process could enhance shared mental models, and externalization of the learning process could enhance transactive memory about who knows what in a team. Using the

SSRL tools could improve communication and coordination of relevant knowledge between students in a collaboration group and thereby introduce a collective WM. Possibly this could free cognitive resources within the group to monitoring their learning process and use this for regulation in an effective way

To conclude, research on SRL skills and metacognitive skills of learners in groups (e.g., co-regulation, SSMR, SSRL) has shown how learning processes can be regulated in interaction between peers or teachers and peers (De Backer et al., 2012, 2015; Hadwin et al., 2011; Panadero & Jarvela, 2015). Regulation of learning in interaction with others can also lead to acquiring SRL skills as an individual (Hadwin et al., 2011; Jarvela et al., 2015), as well as shifting toward socially shared forms of regulation within a group (De Backer et al., 2015). Collaborative learning settings seem to demand regulation of learning by the learners involved but also to elicit regulation of learning by learners. Hence, there seems to be a relation between team cognition and mutual cognitive interdependence on the one hand, and effective shared regulation of learning, on the other. That means collaborative learning could be an effective strategy to support SRL processes for groups and individuals. Furthermore, instructional supports for SRL or metacognitive processes during collaborative learning could theoretically also support team cognition (DeChurch & Mesmer-Magnus, 2010) and the use of collective WM (Kirschner et al., 2011). Therefore, it would be promising to investigate how the concepts of team cognition, collective WM, and socially shared regulation would overlap, strengthen, or constrain each other. Possibly, team cognition and mutual cognitive interdependence are important prerequisites of shared regulation of learning and could be used to develop interventions to improve shared regulation.

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