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Friday, 10 May 2013

Self-regulation and motivation

Learning is one of those terms about which many assumptions are made, but around which there is a silence in terms of assertions because it is complex and specific to different learners, and no single strategy works for all (Schunk et al. 1998).  According to Hirst and Peters (1989), “Educating people is not done by instant fiat.  It takes time, and a variety of different processes of learning and teaching are involved it” (p.14).  Drawing on a range of European studies, including her own research in Holland over the last twenty years, Boekaerts (1995) concluded that motivation, an essential element of successful learning, conceptualised in her research as specific self-regulatory skill, was necessary for learners to experience success in educational outcomes. 

Research (Boekaerts, 2002; Schunk, 1991) indicates that motivational beliefs, which act as a frame of reference for pupils’ feelings and actions in a given subject or task, result from learning experiences and act as favourable contexts for learning, where students are not motivated to learn in the face of failure but students who have positive beliefs about their capacity to learn have higher achievements (Boekaerts, 1995; Pintrich, 2000; Stipek, 1988).  It was observed that children who were well motivated to learn were also capable of using their self-regulatory skills effectively for higher achievement, whereas children who were not skilled or nor inclined to use their self-regulatory skills, were poorly motivated and over-reliant on teachers, which had a negative effect on their progress.  What is understood here by the term ‘self-regulatory skills’, is the learners’ capacity to control and manage their own learning.  Boekaerts (1995), who distinguishes between meta-cognitive skills (learning goals oriented which refer to the learners’ capacity to generate cognitive strategies in a context-specific way), meta-motivational and self-management skills (not necessarily learning goal restricted), uses this term to explain the types of self-regulatory skills which are “concerned with the control of behaviour in general, including motivation control, action control, emotion and social control” (p.10).

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