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SRL Strategies

Classifications of SRL Strategies

According to Zimmerman (1986), SRL is the extent to which the learner is a metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviorally active participant in his or her own learning process. Zimmerman (1986) further explains that metacognitively, self-regulated learners can plan, organize, self-instruct, self-monitor, and self-evaluate at various stages in their learning process. According to this perspective, effective learners can apply the cognitive learning strategies in their learning process (Garcia & Pintrich, 1994; Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990). Self-regulated learners can employ metacognitive processes to monitor and control their cognitive strategies as well as concentration and affect (Corno, 1986). They can also use self-regulation strategies such as planning and organizing their learning, goal-setting, self-monitoring, and self-evaluation (Garcia & Pintrich, 1994) to manage and improve self-control over their learning.

One of the central issues of SRL is students’ ability to select, combine, and coordinate cognitive strategies. Without basic information processing strategies, SRL independent of external regulation and guidance is highly unlikely. Cognitive strategy refers to learners’ cognitive actions that are performed in order to attain a particular learning goal or to accomplish a learning task (Mayer, 1988; Schneider & Weinert, 1990). According to Weinstein and Mayer (1986), there are three types of cognitive strategies: rehearsal, elaboration, and organization. Rehearsal strategies involve repeating the information to be learned and are related to the encoding processes when the learner attempts to put new information into working memory. This strategy is related to the maintenance of information rather than elaboration or integration of new information with prior knowledge. Elaboration strategies can help students store new information into longterm memory by connecting new information with prior knowledge. Organizational strategies can be used by the learner to construct connections in the information to be learned.

Another body of research takes a more macro-level approach to strategy use that is focused on students’ approach to learning. Two categories of learning strategies were used to measure students’ cognitive aspects of their learning: surface-processing strategies and deep-processing strategies (Elliot et al., 1999; Entwistle & Marton, 1984; Entwistle & Ramsden, 1983). Surface-processing learning strategies involve minimal engagement with the task and focusing on simple memorization, rehearsal, and rote learning. In contrast, deep-processing learning strategies include elaboration and organizational strategies such as integrating the whole with its parts, relating the subject to real-life situations, and connecting prior knowledge to a current task to enhance understanding. This categorization is used in some rather well known research instruments such as in Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1991) and in several empirical studies concerning strategy use and its relation to achievement (Elliot et al., 1999; Pintrich & Garcia, 1991).

Besides cognitive strategies, students’ metacognitive knowledge and their use of metacognitive strategies have an important impact on their achievement (Garcia & Pintrich, 1994). Self-regulated learners can use metacognitive efforts to efficiently and effectively monitor their cognitive strategies and to control concentration and affect (Corno, 1986). Metacognitive strategies typically include at least three components: planning, monitoring, and regulating (Garcia & Pintrich, 1994; Schraw & Moshman, 1995).

Planning involves the selection of appropriate strategies and the allocation of resources. Planning includes goal setting, activating relevant background knowledge, and organising time (Garcia & Pintrich, 1994; Zimmerman, 1990a). Self-regulated learners use strategic planning to guide their specific efforts to control learning and depend reciprocally on enactive feedback from their efforts (Zimmerman, 1990a). Previous research suggests that experts are more self-regulated compared to novices largely due to effective planning, particularly global planning that occurs prior to beginning a task.

Monitoring individuals’ thinking and performance is essential to metacognition and is critical to continued strategy use (Ghatala, 1986). To achieve learning goals, students need to implement and self-monitor their actions and cognitive processes during performance. They can use the self-observation technique to monitor their actions and to control their learning processes. Ghatala (1986) suggests three special procedures to enhance continued use of a strategy: (a) assess changes in performance and monitor the strategies used; (b) attribute different performance outcomes to strategies employed; and (c) make decisions based on performance outcomes and strategy attributions to select the better strategy to achieve the goal. These monitoring strategies can help students be aware of their strategy selection and use and further facilitate them to monitor and control their learning process.

Regulation strategies cannot be separated from monitoring strategies. They are assumed to improve learning by helping learners correct their performance and revise their understanding (Garcia & Pintrich, 1994). The process of self-monitoring and self-regulation is also a process of self-evaluation. Learners are encouraged to make realistic judgments (Bandura, 1986a) about their performance. Self-evaluation is an important SRL strategy that indicates student-initiated evaluations of the quality or progress of their work as well as their comparisons between their performance and some expressed criteria. According to McCombs (1989), selfevaluations consist of task requirements that are against individual’s needs for competence and control, and against their self-system structures. These self-evaluations in turn will facilitate students’ use of other self-regulation strategies such as planning and goal setting as well as self-monitoring.

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