Memory, metacognition and SRL

Cognition can be defined as set of all mental abilities and processes related to knowledge: attention, memory and working memory, judgement and evaluation, reasoning and “computation”, problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language, etc. Metacognition can be defined as knowing about knowing, or thinking about thinking. Metacognitive knowledge refers to acquired knowledge about cognitive processes, knowledge that can be used to control cognitive processes. For example, when and how to use particular learning strategies or strategies to solve problems.

thinking about thinkingI don’t know about you, but for me these concepts have always been somewhat vague, perhaps because they entail so much. Cognition and metacognition are main concepts including a multitude of sub-concepts such as memory, problem solving, reasoning etc. These sub-concepts in themselves are already complex in themselves. Human mind with all it’s processes is a complex network, that it makes it tricky to understand.


So this week we concentrate on memory, metacognition and how these relate to self-regulated learning. I have high hopes to gain some more knowledge to these complex issues, and gain deeper understanding to how people learn, and what are the strategies a self-regulated learner can exercise to improve his/her memory and especially metacognition which in turn enhance learning.

This week I plan to use the same strategies in my studying as last weeks. Though, time is again scarce, as we have to attend a video challenge, that will basically last for 1,5 days (from Thursday morning to Friday midday), and we also have to produce content for our group work on giving a teaching session to our classmates on the subject of “motivation and SRL”. This means I can start reading the articles, but put them of my tasklist at those days we have to concentrate on the video challenge and the group work.

Three main points from the articles

Butler, D. L. and Cartier, S. C. (2004). Promoting Effective Task Interpretation as an Important Work Habit: A Key to Successful Teaching and Learning.

1. Butler and Cartier claim in their article that task interpretation plays a critical role in successful learning as it forms the basis for effective work habits.

In schools teachers establish the learning environments and within them design activities which aim at fostering particular academic work habits and learning outcomes that students should adopt. Butler and Cartier (2004) suggest that

  • task purpose (e.g. writing a letter to a local politician to protest against shutting down the local school),
  • task structure (e.g. how is a good, convincing letter constructed), and
  • task components (e.g. breaking down the writing process to different phases)

are the key metacognitive knowledge about tasks. Student’s metacognitive knowledge about these components of task determine whether the student is successful in interpreting and navigating of academic tasks.

As students gain experience with repeatedly working with task and going through the different phases in them, they begin to develop work habits (i.e. habitual ways of working) that they adopt every time they are faced with academic work. As students first engage in interpreting the tasks, they then direct all their further  learning action (setting goals, choosing strategies and acting based on those, monitoring progress, and assessing their performance against the goals) based on their interpretation of task demands. In other words, task interpretation is the first critical step in self-regulation that sets the direction for all further learning. If, however, the interpretation is absent or faulty, it will mislead the student’s learning. Thus, for students’ learning to be successful, they must adopt an approach to academic work that always includes careful attention to interpreting tasks.

Students’ metacognitive knowledge about tasks play a key role in task interpretation and their engagement. Butler and Cartier (2004) state that strategic learners draw on their metacognitive knowledge about task purposes when interpreting task requirements and then modulate learning activities responsively to match different purposes. Understanding task purpose is not enough by itself, but successful learner needs also to understand how academic tasks are structured as well as what are the tasks components, which in turn guides them to select the learning strategies to be used. That is, student’s interpretation of a task impacts self-regulation, for example, the student’s belief about her ability to carry out the task (self-efficacy), interestingness or utility of the task, the strategies chosen to carry out the task etc.

2. How students’ task interpretations typically break down. Students may experience problems in interpreting tasks because of their limited or faulty understanding about task purpose, structure or components. According to research, students construct conceptions about academic work that do not always match with those expected by the teachers. For example, in writing a letter to a local politician to protest against shutting down a local school, the teacher’s aim could be for the student to learn how to write an effective and persuasive message, but the student might instead concentrate more her effort in making the letter just grammatically correct.

So, typically, according to Butler and Cartier (2004) problems in task interpretation arise when students have faulty or insufficient metacognitive knowledge about about task components, when students lack effective strategies for task interpretation, or when students fail to actively interpret task demands before starting work acting based on their misinterpretation of the task. With certain students the problems in self-regulation can be related to their cumulative histories with tasks, instructions and evaluation.

Understanding where task interpretation breaks down provides important information for directing interventions.

3. Practical advice for teachers about structuring activities, instructions and evaluation. Teachers influence students’ task interpretation, for better or worse, by the way they structure the learning environment. According to Butler and Cartier (2004) to support successful learning, teachers should structure learning environments to support active, reflective and productive task interpretation. Student’s should also be made more aware of task interpretation as an learning activity, and be taught about the strategies for interpreting tasks.

Teachers have a direct impact on students’ construction of metacognitive knowledge, task conceptions and self-regulations through their instructions and evaluation. For example, students’ interpretation of teachers feedback  (evaluation in the form of grades, for example) has a great impact on how the students view not only their success, but also their interpretation of tasks and thus also their construction of metacognitive knowledge and conceptions of academic tasks.

Prior to selecting activities, teachers should consider 1) their goals for students’ learning, 2) the variety and complexity of the tasks that compose the activity and how prepared to students are to face them, 3) what the selected activities will communicate to the students about academic work, 4) whether the selected activities will foster the intended learning outcomes. Also, when  breaking the activity down to smaller tasks (components), it is important not to lose the big picture, that is, the main idea of the activity. Instructions given to students, that supports effective task interpretation, tries to direct the students’ attention to learning processes, promote active engagement in learning, and maintain the focus on the goals of the learning activities.

Weinstein, C. E., Acce, T. W., & Jung, J. (2011). Self-regulation and learning strategies.

1. Components of strategic learning. Strategic learners can be defined as having the skills, will, and self-regulation that is needed to be efficient learners. Weinstein summarizes these three elements in her Model of Strategic Learning:

  • Skills refer to critical knowledge about knowing how to use learning strategies and other thinking skills.
  • Will refers to motivation and affective components of strategic learning that affect academic success.
  • Self-regulation is both the glue and the engine that helps student manage their strategic learning.

All the three elements interact with each other to create effective and efficient learning.

2. Types of cognitive learning strategies are rehearsal -, elaboration – , and organisation strategies. In rehearsal strategies the student uses repetition in trying to learn a certain thing, However, not all rehearsal strategies are efficient for deep learning as they do not involve much cognitive processes (i.e. it is “mindless” repetition). Using elaboration strategies in contrast requires active cognitive processing as it involves adding or modifying the material some ways (e.g. summarising, creating and answering questions) to make it more meaningful and memorable for the learner. Organisation strategies are a form of elaboration strategies in which the learner organises the new material in graphic format, for example mind maps.

Weinstein points out that what is more important is that the learner engages in active conginive processing than what specific strategy the learner chooses to use. Different strategies or their combination can work for learning different kinds of materials and issues.

3. Declarative, procedural and conditional knowledge. What ever strategy the learner chooses to use, she still needs to adopt three types of knowledge for any of the strategies to be useful, namely, declarative, procedural and conditional knowledge. Declarative knowledge refers to the basic definition of the strategies, procedural knowledge to how the strategies can be used, and conditional knowledge to in what circumstances the strategies can be used. This knowledge helps the student to choose and use the strategies efficiently in different learning situations.

Ormrod, J.E. (2009). Basic components of memory.

1. Dual-store model, and memory and knowledge types. The prevalent model of human memory today is called a dual-store model.According to the model, memory consists of three components: sensory register, short-term memory (aka working memory), and long-term memory.Brain

According to the model, input from the environment first enters sensory register where the information stays for a short period of time, time enough for it to undergo some preliminary cognitive processes to move to short-term memory, where the information is further processed for it to move to long-term memory.

Theorists make some distinctions between memory and knowledge types. Episodic memory – one’s memory about their personal lives and semantic memory – one’s knowledge about the world around them in general independent of one’s own experiences. Semantic memories typically stay longer with us than episodic memory. For example, we know what a bicycle looks like, but we might not remember how our first own bike looked like. Both these types relate to the nature of how things were or are – sometimes this can also be referred to as declarative knowledge.

But we also have something that can be called procedural knowledge; we know how to do things, like riding a bicycle. However, this as by itself it not enough, we also need information about what to do under different circumstances, like stop our bicycle when a car suddenly drives in front of us on the street. This is conditional knowledge.

Conceptual knowledge is our understanding of why certain events happen, why certain things are as they are, and why certain procedures are effective while others aren’t. However, whether this kind of knowledge is different from the other forms mentioned above, or simply reflects the relationships between them, is yet unclear.

Some theorists also make distinctions between explicit and implicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is knowledge that we can easily recall and explain where as implicit knowledge we cannot consciously recall, but which however affects our behavior. That is, sometimes people have no conscious awareness that they have learned something but yet this is clearly present in their actions.

2. Attention. If we want to move information from sensory register into short-term memory we must pay a certain amount of attention to that information. Certain characteristics in stimuli easily draw our attention – size (big size draws attention more easily than small), intensity (bright colors and load noises), novelty (unusual vs. usual), incongruity (odd things in a certain context that don’t seem to fit or don’t make sense), emotion (strong emotional associations), and personal significance (the meaning and relevance to us). Also, even if people are all paying attention to the same stimulus (nominal stimulus) they all may be  attending to different aspect of it (effective stimulus).

People are incapable of attending to everything at once, people can attend to one complex source of information at once. People have limited processing capacity, thus they have to be quite selective about what stimuli they choose to process, and they must ignore a lot of information they receive through their sensory register.

wasnt-listening-memeIn school settings teachers can help their students to focus their attention, and thus helping them to learn by:

  • including a variety of topics and presentation styles in teaching (keep the students interested and attending),
  • providing frequent breaks, especially with young children, as they come easily restless and distracted,
  • ask questions to keep students attentive,
  • minimise distraction when students are doing independent tasks, so that they can better concentrate,
  • seat the students, who have difficulties paying attention, near the teacher,
  • monitor students behavior, and
  • remember that different people may attend to different aspects of the same stimuli (nominal vs. effective stimuli),
  • plan tasks so that students can perform the task successfully only if they are paying attention to the things that are most important for them to learn,
  • remember, that people can process only a limited amount of information  at a time, and getting information to long-term memory is a slow process – so there’s limit to how much information should pack into one teaching session,
  • people have to continually choose what information is important that should be remember and learner, and what not – teachers should try to help the students to recognise the important information (see the forest from the trees).

3. Working memory and long-term memory. Short-term memory, or working memory, is the place in which the active processing of information takes place, so the thinking takes place here. Working memory seems to be central for many processes important for learning, thinking and behavior, e.g. directing attention, coordinating information from different sensory systems, making sense of situations, drawing inferences, reasoning, planning, making decisions, solving problems, inhibiting irrelevant thoughts and actions.

There are three control processes that affect the functioning of working memory: organising, retrieval and rehearsal. Chunking information helps to increase the information amount that can be stored in working memory, retrieval is a process of scanning all the information content in working memory until the desired information is found, and maintenance rehearsal which provides means of keeping the information “alive” by repeating it.

Long-term memory’s capacity to store information is regarded as unlimited, and information in it is probably stored in terms of meaning, that is, schematically. Also, all the information stored there are assumed to be interconnected – related pieces of information is probably directly or indirectly connected to each other.

Anything sensed is stored in the sensory register, and anything attended to is stored in working memory. Most information must be consciously and actively processed before it is stored into long-term memory. People are most successful in this when they understand the information, organise it and integrate it with the information they already have! Storing information to long-term memory occurs slowly, and a lot of information is lost along the way, so in a sense working memory is the bottleneck in the memory system.

Retrieving information from long-term memory is rather slow, at least compared to short-term memory, as there are a lot more information that has to be “scanned” through. Successful retrieval depends very much on whether the person is searching for it from the right “location”. This is where schemata are important. The better the information has been understood, organised and integrated in the long-term memory, the easier it is to retrieve. Also, the more ways the pieces of information is stored, the better the chances of retrieving it.

Ice notes

ICE 1: Human capacity to remember is limited, but strategies help you to remember more; SMART strategies come handy in this.

S – search and select. Not all information is equally important, so you should try to pick out the important information or main points that are meaningful to you.

M – monitor your understanding. Are you paying attention, or are your thought wondering? Do you understand what you are learning? Have you activated your prior knowledge, and are you making connections between the knowledge you already have with the new information?

A – assemble. Try to organise and structure information by elaborating, doing summaries, generating questions, explaining ideas, comparing and contrasting. Try to identify and connect big ideas. Use concrete strategies to do this.

R – rehearse. Practice what you have learned in several different ways.

T – translate, that is, put what you have learned into your own words. Reflect about what you have learned.

SMART strategies, I think, highlight the fact the one has to be an active learner, a self-regulating learner. It’s really very much up to you how efficiently you are able to learn. Learning is by no means a simple thing, as you have to be aware of your emotions and motivation in addition to cognitive and metacognitive processes. However, being aware of these and practicing them will get you further.

Practicing our learning and hopefully thus becoming better self-regulated learners is something we are doing on our SRL -course. By doing the ICE -notes from the lectures and finding three main points from the articles lets us practice the S – search and select relevant information. When writing them in our blogs we are assembling (A) and translating (T) the information. During the process we are also expected to monitor our process (M) and reflect about our learning process. Additionally, we are also going to give a teaching session to other students, so in that part we are also rehearsing (R) what we have learned, as well as searching, selecting and translating what we have learned when preparing the material for the teaching session.


ICE 2: Meaningful information is easier to remember. This is connected to your prior knowledge, and how you have organised that knowledge in schemas. If you activate your prior knowledge, for example about what is SRL, it’s more likely that you are able to understand and thus remember better the new information you read about SRL, as you are able to integrate the new information to the existing one, especially if you are doing it SMART (see the ice-note above).

We had a great exercise on our lecture about how meaningful information is easier to remember . Try reading this:


Quite complex, right? How much do you remember about this? Not much? But what if I told you that the paragraph is about doing laundry, does it make more sense to you, and do you remember more about the text after reading again knowing that it’s about doing laundry. Yes, I think so. And I think also that this illustrates how you should activate your prior knowledge (in this case what you know about doing laundry), and that as you probably have organised that information in your mind somehow in a form of schema, it helps you to understand the new information as you are able to connect it to the existing knowledge that you have.

Moving on from doing laundry to a bit more wider view on this, namely experts vs. novices, that I started to think about after the exercise. Expert have a large body of usable knowledge, as the knowledge is organised so that it is easily retrievable, and they are able to use it adaptively in new situations, as well as integrate new information to their existing schemata. Previously I used to think that experts are in some ways more intelligent and experienced than other people, but recently I have become to think that perhaps expertise is not so much a matter intelligence rather than how effectively one learns and organises knowledge. That is, knowledge is build around big ideas which are organised in different schemata (contrasting to scattered pieces of information with no context).

This is getting a bit complex here, and I’m not completely sure if I’m able to explain this right, but let’s try. I imagine that I have at least some knowledge about what is expertise and what is SRL, and that information is organised in schemata. Having activated my prior knowledge about those, and when presented new information about the ways how learning and remembering new information can be enhanced, I connected this new information to both expertise and SRL. I started to wonder that perhaps there is a connection between good learning practises and expertise – that is, one central aspect of becoming an expert in a certain domain is connected to the person having effective learning strategies. Thus, expertice and being a good self-regulated learner are tightly connected. So hopefully this goes to show that I’ve understood something essential about expertice and self-regulated learning, and have begun to connect big ideas.


This week’s subject has been a fascinating one, that has yielded a lot of valuable information, but at the same time raised perhaps even more questions in my mind. This is an area that will need more inquiry and getting to understand the issues more deeply. But what I’ve specially learner from this is that in the future in my own studies I try to focus more on picking up information that is most important, try to see the big picture, try to explain what I think I have learned in my own words, and try to make relevant connections between the ideas that are meaningful for me.


One difficulty I stumbled into this week was reading of one of the articles, that is, I felt a bit unmotivated. I found the article to be quite long and dwelling in the single subject perhaps too extensively. However, being aware that it is important for me to read the article and try to understand the main ideas from it, I used the strategy that usually work for me the best (in addition to raising my motivation by recognising that the article is important for my learning): cut the article to shorter pieces to read one at a time, and do something else in between the reading. Like have a cup of well deserved coffee. 😉

The next and final solo task is related to how to implement effective interventions and how to assess SRL. I think this part will be tightly connected to teaching practices, and will be based on the current research on SRL as well as teaching. In the “how to assess SRL” we are probably going to go though several different research and different research methods, which most likely will be quite challenging to grasp. But I try to view the methods in the light of which of those methods I could be able to use in my own research, that is, the thesis.


Butler, D. L. and Cartier, S. C. (2004). Promoting Effective Task Interpretation as an Important Work Habit: A Key to Successful Teaching and Learning. Teachers College Record,  106 (9), pp. 1729-1758.

Weinstein, C. E., Acce, T. W., & Jung, J. (2011). Self-regulation and learning strategies. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 126, 45–53. doi:10.1002/tl.443

Ormrod, J.E. (2009). Basic components of memory. In Human learning (pp.166-186). Upper Saddler River, NJ: Allyn & Bacon. (CA)

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Edit Challenge 2014

Meanwhile as still dwelling on the issues on the Self-regulated learning -course, and writing very structured posts in my blog for that, I decided to write something a little less structured for awhile.

In addition to the SRL – course, I’m also taking Learning Theory and Pedagogical Use of Technology– course. Well, the issues dealt with there are pretty much the same as on the other courses, namely SRL and CSCL. So you really cannot miss what are the core concepts and theories in our studies, and at the heart of the LET research unit. 🙂

But what I wanted to talk more about is the hackathon-style competition, Edit Challenge 2014, that we took part on the Learning Theory -course. This was a joint event organised by the Oulu University of Applied Sciences in Finland and the Pädagogische Hochschule Oberösterreich in Austria. The challenge was organised as a Hackathon-style educational event in which university-level students worked together in teams to create educational videos, and the event was held simultaneously in both locations, of course.

I was a bit nervous at first about how this was going to work out, that is, creating an educational video in such a short period of time with people I have never met before. However, it’s always good to try out new things, although they may seem daunting at first. And I figured that as this was set as one of our course tasks, this must be a good opportunity to learn.

I was randomly assigned to a group, that turned out to be a great one! Me and another student from the LET -studies represented the “experts” in learning, and two other students were from Oulu University of Applied Sciences and possessed knowledge about visual communication and technical editing of videos, so they were the “experts” in media communication. We figured out the idea or concept for our video quite quickly while getting to know each other and planning the project at the same time. So from the planning phase we were able to move directly to filming and then editing. All in all, the whole process of making the film took about 6-7 hours. You can check out our video below. (It’s the first one of the nine videos that made it to the finals.)

We didn’t win though, but still I’m happy about what we could do together, especially taking into account that we did not know each other before, and we had a limited amount of time to use. I’m happy about how well our project itself went. We were from the beginning on the same page, so to speak, so communication and decision making was easy. We also shared the view about our goals that we wanted to reach and were equally motivated. We were able to combine everyone’s expertise to produce an educational video.

What we wanted to point out in our video is that in today’s world the learner can, and has to be, a curious and an active one in search for knowledge and understanding. The different technological means enable us to not only search for information, but also to construct it together, and share it further.

Contemplating still a bit more about this Edit Challenge, I like it’s idea to combine different people’s different knowledge and expertise, and how it challenges those people to work together. Having these kinds of experiences in university level is a huge advantage (compare this to students just attending and listening to lectures, and never getting to do anything practical with their knowledge, for example), and not only let the students to practice their skills and make use of their knowledge in real situations, but prepare them for the working life. Because that’s pretty much what working life is nowadays: working with many different people with different background, knowledge and skills, to jointly solve a problem, or create and innovate something new.

So, I’m happy to have experienced this “challenge”, and gotten three new friends midst the learning process. (Thanks girls!) ❤

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Motivation and emotions in SRL

During this period we are going to concentrate on motivation and emotions’ side in SRL. This is, for some reason, a personal interest of mine. Perhaps for the reason that I have noticed during my studies how I more and more scutinise my own feelings and motivation, as well as try to estimate and interprete the feelings and motivation of other students. I also chose to joint the group in our course which will produce a groupwork on motivation and emotions in SRL and present it as a form of a lesson for the other course members. Getting to choose this particular subject I was most interested in was important for my motivation. 🙂


The importance of motivation in learning. Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Planning phase

So as said, during the next period (week) we are going to concentrate on motivation and emotions’ side in SRL. As this subject is interesting to me, and also because we are going to produce a group work about this subject, I plan to carefully read all the articles and of course attent the lecture midfully. Again, I have to prioritise my tasks and organise them so that I will be able to successfully complete all the tasks from different courses. This time, if nothing unexpected happens (like my other child catching the flue), I should have enough time to do all the work. This means however that I have to work hard during evenings and the weekend as well.

 Three main points from the articles

Järvenoja, H., & Järvelä, S. (2009). Emotion control in collaborative learning situations – do students regulate emotions evoked from social challenges?

1. Emotions, motivation and collaboration. According to Wolters (2000) emotion regulation is the learner’s ability to monitor, evaluate and change the occurance, intensity and duration of an emotional experience. In his view, emotion regulation is an effective strategy to regulate motivation which in turn is needed for the learner to complete a task.

groupThompson and Fine (1999) state that motivation and emotions has been found to be central in collaborative learning. Many researches agree upon that learner’s emotions are formed at the junction where personal, contextual and social aspects of learning meet. In collaborative work, socio-emotional challenges are typically higher than in conventional learning situations. Examples of challenges are conflicting goals, different level of interest, working- or communication styles, and interpersonal features. These socio-emotional challenges may become obstacles that affect the learner’s motivation and thus effect the learner’s action. Overall, regulation of emotions is crucial both in individual level as well as on group level for successful collaboration.

2. Socio-emotional challenges that students encounter. Järvenoja and Järvelä (2009) studied a group of students who worked collaboratively, and found that they encounter different types of socio-emotional challenges which were triggered by personal priorities, work and communication, teamwork, collaboration, and external constraints. During collaborative learning, students must overcome different emotional and motivational challenges to maintain their engagement in the learning and also to maintain good interaction with other group members. Both the pedagogical structure and the group members’ increasing experience of one another may affect the nature of the challenges encountered. The study revealed that during the tasks personal priorities and work and communication became less challenging, but surprisingly challenges in teamwork and collaboration increased.

3. Regulation used to overcome socio-emotional challenges. Järvenoja and Järvelä’s (2009) study showed that students use different forms of regulation to maintain collaborative groupwork. The results from the study suggest that group members share some of the regulation processes within the group (SSRL) while also using self-regulation (SRL). On the contrary, the study reveals that students don’t benefit from co-regulation (CoRL).

The group profiles showed that it is possible to reach personal goals and work successfully together even if the situation is interpreted from each individual’s own perspective. That is, the challenges were interpreted differently, and also the regulation processes used by the group members varied, but all the students felt they achieved their collaborational goal.

Järvenoja and Järvelä conclude that making students aware of how different group members’ interpretations differ from their own, may help the group to avoid emotional conflicts and to solve challenges they might face. Intervetions, such as scaffolding for both cognitive and socio-emotional challenges, may improve the quality of collaboration and academic achievement.

Wolters, C. A. (2003). Regulation of Motivation: Evaluating an Underemphasized Aspect of Self-Regulated Learning.

1. Motivation and motivation regulation: Student’s ability to control their motivation has an impact on their learning achievements. Motivation can been seen as a state that varies, whereas motivation regulation is an active and conscious process of the learner to affect his or her motivation. Motivation regulation strategies aim at affecting student’s willingness (will) to study. These strategies do not necessarily influence how the student complete their activities, but why and for how long they are sticking to them.

Motivation and motivation regulation have an interdependent and curvilinear relation. Student’s with high motivation rarely need to regulate their motivation, and students with low motivation rarely even begin regulating their motivation. Thus, students who have some initial motivation but face difficulties during studies resort to motivation regulation strategies more often than students with very high or very low motivation.

According to Wolters, motivation regulation strategies must meet two criteria: 1) students must be deliberately acting to attempt influencing their motivation and 2) the strategy used should actually help or improve student’s motivation and subsequent performance.

2. Motivation regulation strategies: One critical aspect of SRL is strategies used to regulate motivation.

Motivation mindmap

Self-consequenting means that a student can administer rewards or punishments on herself for reaching some goal in completing a certain task. For example, a student can motivate herself to read a chapter of a study book, and having a big cup of hot chocolate after that as an reward.

Goal-oriented self-talk can be used in such a way that the student tries to reason and explain to herself why she needs to persist and complete the task.  For example, she can reason that she must complete the task so that she will do well in a test and get good grades, or that she will learn the subject thoroughly and gain new knowledge.

– By interest enhancement the student tries to make the task more enjoyable or interesting to persist on it. Make studying into a game, for example.

Environmental structuring means making the environment such that there is less chance for distraction or at least less intense distraction. For example, organising the studying environment so that there is no noise.

Self-handicapping means making obstacles before or during the task to make the task performance more difficult which in turn hampers motivation. Examples of these are putting off work until the last minute or staying up late the night before the exam.

Attribution control refers to student’s perceived causes of their performance (either good or poor performance). For example, the student can explain their poor performance on the lack of ability (which lowers their motivation further) rather than lack of effort (which in turn is something that the student could improve by regulating her motivation).

Efficacy-management is connected to student’s self-efficacy or beliefs about her capabilities and how successful she is in her performance in tasks (perceived competence). This can be divided into three different strategies: proximal goal setting (breaking complex or large tasks into more simpler or smaller tasks), defensive pessimism (students highlight their lack of ability or other such factor to convince themselves that they are not able to do the required task), and efficacy self-talk (students try to reassure themselves that they are going to perform well).

Emotion regulation refers to ability to monitor, evaluate and change the occurance, intensity and duration of emotional experience to ensure that the student can provide effort and complete the tasks.

3. Future research needs on motivation. Wolter’s says that all motivational regulation strategies are not appropriate in all situations nor in response to all motivational problems. Additional research that documents the situational influences would help to clarify the conditions where motivation regulation strategies facilitate the students performance the most. He also stresses that motivation regulation should be studies to find out what is the relationship of motivation regulation and other processes importat for SRL. Equally important would be to study further how students’ motivation regulation develops in time.

 Zimmerman, B. J. (2011). Motivational sources and outcomes of self-regulated learning and performance.

1. Role of motivation in student’s self-regulated learning. It can be argued that high motivation increase student’s attention the learning processes and  outcomes. It also increase student’s choice of tasks as well as the time the student is willing to persist on difficult tasks. Students with low motivation need help from teachers to enhance their motivation the spend time in practicing in implementing self-regulatory processes. Research has proven that SRL strategy training can enhance many aspect of student motivation.

2.Sources of motivation. Zimmerman describes different sources of motivation in his article:

Sources of motivation

Goal-orientation can be divided to performance goals and learning goals. The purpose of performance goal is to receive positive feedback from one’s performance and avoid negative judgement. Learning goals is to actually increase one’s knowledge and gain positive self-judgement though it.

Interest can be divided to situational interest and individual interest. Situational interest is formed in situ, and usually the motivation does not transfer beyond that situation. Individual interest is enduring and directs the activities, objects or ideas the person chooses and pursues.

Intrinsic motivation involves the perceived role of various types of reward on student’s valuing of an activity. Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior arises from within the individual because it is intrinsically rewarding. This contrasts with extrinsic motivation, which involves engaging in a behavior in order to earn external rewards or avoid punishments

Task value refer’s to students perceived worth of a particular task. This can be divided into attainment value or importance, intrinsic value, utility value or usefulness, and cost.

Self-efficacy and outcome beliefs. Self-efficacy  refers to expectancies about personal capabilities to organise and execute courses of action. Outcome expectancies refers to the results of one’s actions.

Future time perspective (FTP) focuses in student’s beliefs about the outcomes of efforts to self-regulate. SR is viewed in terms of conflict between immediate and delayed outcomes, that is, students with long FTP should remain motivated longer than those with short FTP.

Volition process enables students to focus their concentration and sustain their effort in dealing with personal and environmental distractions. Research shows that use of volitional strategies can serve as a source of academic self-regulation.

Causal attribution refers to student’s perceived causes of their performance (either good or poor performance). Students who attribute causation to internal, changeable and controllable methods should be more motivated to continue self-regulating their learning than those students who view causation as external, unchangeable and not controllable.

3. Cyclical view of motivation during SRL. According to social-cognitive view, SRL is divided into three cyclical phases: forethought, performance and self-reflection each of which include metacognitive processes and motivation feelings.

a) In forethough phase the student analyses the task by setting goals and making a strategic plan. These depend on student’s motivational feelings: self-efficacy, outcome expectancies, task interest/value and goal orientation. This phase helps the student to prepare to the upcoming task to learn and self-regulate learning.

b) In performance phase student exerts self-control strategies and self-observation. Self-control strategies include metacognitive strategies (such as task strategy and imagery), volitional strategies (such as action control and emotional state control), and motivation strategies (such as self-consequenting, environmental structuring, self-instructions, interest enhancement). Self-observation refers to metacognitive monitoring or self-recording of certain aspects of one’s performance, conditions and effects. The performance phase influences student’s attention and actions.

c) Self-reflection phase processes are self-judgement and self-reaction. Self-judgement comprises of self-evaluation and causal attribution, self-reaction comprises of self-satisfaction and adaptive or defensive inferences. Self-reaction phase creates reactions to prior learning (performance phase) and consequently affects how the student prepares for the upcoming learning tasks (forethought phase).



ICE notes from lecture

ICE 1: On the lecture Ms. Hanna Järvelä talked about the features that affect motivation: interest, values, self-efficacy, motivation goals and causal attribution. I have never before thought that values affect motivation so much, though now that I come to think about it, it’s pretty obvious that the higher you value something the more keen you are on spending your time and effort on it. But to what extend can values be changed or affected to by an external agent (or person).

Take for example in elementary school, if there is a student who does not value learning (and is thus unmotivated), can this be affected and changed. Perhaps. Could it be that if learning, for example a task in some subject, is made interesting and fun, it would evoke situational interest in the low-motivated student. Furthermore, if the task is challenging enough (not too challenging to be attainable) it would result in affecting positively the student’s self-efficacy. This in turn would affect positively the student’s motivation, and perhaps in the longer run, the situational interest of the task in the certain subject would turn into personal interest. And this in turn would also change the student’s value in that the student would start valuing learning more.

It’s important that the student is able to use different learning strategies and strategies to control and affect their emotions and motivation, especially in the situations when they face difficulties, for example, if the tasks seem very difficult or just merely boring. However, the teachers should compose their tasks so that they are challenging enough to be attainable, but also interesting and why not even fun. This way the students’ motivation would have a better change to stay high, and the students would not have to even begin using their strategies for motivation regulation. 🙂

ICE 2: Motivation is the fuel that directs, maintains and hinders activity.

I’m motivated to study and want to learn, but that does not prevent me from feeling unmotivated sometimes. I find that the most difficulties I face in situations where I don’t understand something, for example, when I’m reading articles and come across difficult concepts and complex theories I have trouble understanding. Then I become easily frustrated, and start even questioning my self-efficacy (“I’m I just plain stupid, or why can’t I get this.”), and then my motivation sinks. Usually I recognise my negative feeling first, and try to address it by for example taking a break in between the reading, and just calm down. Then I decide to try again, but perhaps in a different way (break down the reading to smaller parts, or try to find additional information from the internet that would clarify the difficult issue). So what I’ve done conciously has been to control my feelings, and apply strategies that help me to continue and persist, though I’ve considered these strategies more as volitional strategies that help me in studying than as strategies that help my motivation.

According to volitional model, motivation refers to the state and processes  prior to deciding on one’s choice of goals (i.e. pre-decisional processes), whereas volition refers to post-decisional processes which deals with the implementation of strategies and attaining one’s goals. Strictly taken  this could be interpreted as motivation staying the same throughout the learning process or doing a task, and volitional processes guiding the person throughout the task. However, motivation can change quickly during a task, so it should be monitored and assessed throughout the learning/task.

Emotions, motivation as well as learning strategies all play a crucial role in effective learning, and they are and should be rehearsed throughout one’s life. It all begins, when one’s a child, with recognising one’s feelings and learning how to control them. For example, witt young children parents can help them recognise the negative feelings and advise the children how to control them. Usually children get quite angry purely for the reason that they are either tired or hungry, so the parents can help the child to recognise the feeling and the reason for it. For example, the parent can say that “I think you feel angry because you are hungry. Perhaps we could eat a little snack so I’m sure you feel much better after that.”

When children go to elementary school, they already should be quite good at regulating their emotions, but as they are still growing up, they may sometimes need help with their emotions. Around that time, when children go to school, motivation and motivation regulation comes quite important. With my 7-year-old first-grader I’ve notice that I do not only have to check her homework, but I also have to try help her with the motivation, especially when she’s struggling with difficult homework. Usually I have to try to boost her self-confidence (i.e. her feeling of self-efficacy is low), and tell her that if we keep on trying, she will eventually learn and it will get also easier. I can also suggest to her, that maybe we can try doing little parts of the task one by one and take breaks in between. What I’ve also noticed is that when she does well on some task, she’s so happy that she wants to do some extra tasks and is very eager to tell and also show us how she has completed the tasks. So at that point she’s very motivated to learn more.

So with young children it’s important that they first learn how to control their emotions and motivation, and later on when they are older and in school, knowing how to use different learning strategies becomes also important.


This week was a hard week because I had so much to do, that is to read and write and collaborate, for several different courses at the same time. This time I had the opportunity to read all the required three articles thoroughly, and it took time, yes. In addition to this, I still find writing blog posts to be hard work, because you have to really think about what is relevant and be accurate in what you say – you would not want to pass on wrong information or incorrect interpretations of, for example, learning theories, so you need to check thoroughly that what you are presenting is correct.

I have not counted the hours how much effort I have put into this week, but it has been a lot, perhaps somewhere around three whole working days. I probably should give myself a pad on the back. But what were the issues that kept me going? The main reasons for me was the interest in this particular subject. Also, when I finished some task (for example reading an article and realised that I really understood what was said in it), it gave me confidence to move on to next task. In addition,  I want to do well on this course, and to really gain knowledge from this that I can make use of later on in my studies and work as well.

Next week we are moving onto the subject of metacognition. I hope my motivation and energy level will stay as high as this week, so that I will be able to perform well. The strategies I’ve used this week have worked quite well, so I plan to proceed pretty much the same way as before.


Järvenoja, H., & Järvelä, S. (2009). Emotion control in collaborative learning situations – do students regulate emotions evoked from social challenges? British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79, 463-481.

Wolters, C. A. (2003). Regulation of Motivation: Evaluating an Underemphasized Aspect of Self-Regulated Learning. Educational Psychologist, 38 (4), pp. 189-205.

Zimmerman, B. J. (2011). Motivational sources and outcomes of self-regulated learning and performance. In B. J. Zimmerman, & D. H. Schunk (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (pp. 49–64). New York: Routledge.

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Self-regulated learning (SRL)

I have started a new course in our LET studies called Self-regulated learning. In one of my previous post I talked about how during my studies I have noticed myself constantly observing, regulating and reflecting. I observe the learning environment, my own emotions and motivation, other student’s behavior and emotions, the teachers’ agenda and perhaps even the hidden agenda (what does the teacher want us to learn in addition to the obvious, that is, the facts about a certain subject). All this is connected to self-regulation and self-regulated learning, into which I get to dig deeper in the coming weeks.

So, my upcoming posts will be concentrated on SRL, and I’ve chosen to use a certain structure in all the post concerned, as this will reflect the tasks we have been given on the course: to plan our work, find three main points from given articles, two ICE notes from lecture, and finally reflect on our learning process.


Planning phase

Describe your solo phase task. What topics and concepts are related to your task? Set a goal for this work period. How confident are you that you will achieve your goal?

The idea on our Self-regulated learning -course is to read the given articles, and try to define and describe three main concepts from each article, and also to attend lectures about SRL and make two ICE notes per lecture. The main concepts from the articles and lectures should be written in the blog, and also the personal learning process reflected on.

The course starts with a lecture and articles that describe what is SRL, so the basics. I assume that I will encounter definitions of SR and SRL, discussion about cognition, metacognition but also how emotions and motivation is central in SRL. I also suspect that learning strategies are dealt with in the lecture and articles, as well as historical development about the view on SRL and past and  present trends in research of SRL.

The hardest thing, I suspect, is to read the articles. So I plan to read an article per day and make notes. However, if there is a long or difficult article, breaks in-between reading would be a good thing, so I have time to digest the information. I plan to check from my notes if I can explain the most important aspect of the articles, and if there seems to be some unclear issues, I  go back on that issue again. I know it’s going to be tough, especially as I’m not used to reading scientific articles, but I’m determined to try.

Three main points from the articles

Boekaerts, M. and Corno, L. (2005). Self-Regulation in the Classroom: A Perspective on Assessment and Intervention.

1. About the definiotion of SR and SRL. There is really no one simple and all-inclusive definition of self-regulation or self-regulated learning. Likewise, there is not a single SR model in education, but several different views that highlight different aspects of SR. According to Pintrich (2000), Corno emphasises volitional aspects of SR, whereas Winne emphasises the cognitive aspects of SR, and McCaslin and Hickey emphasize the socio-cultural aspect of SR. There are however some aspects of SR that the models agree upon: self-regulated students are active in generating meaning and regulate their thoughts, feelings and actions which in turn affect their learning and motivation. Similarly, models assume that different constraints, such as biological, developmental, contextual, and individual difference, may interfere with or support regulation. The theorists agree that students have the capability to make use of standards to affect their learning, and to set their own goals and sub-goals. Finally, all theorists assume that personal or contextual characteristics are not directly linked to achievement; self regulatory activities that students use to reach learning and performance goals lead to achievement.

Boekaerts notes that for the most part, theorists in educational psychology narrow the scope of students’ capability to self-regulate through a focus on the academic side of education, namely on learning and achievement goals. The scope of SR has been restricted to the construct of “self-regulated learning” (SRL) which highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of the SR models that have been developed in educational psychology.

2. Bearing the above mentioned in mind, Boekaerts in her dual processing self-regulation model distinguishes SR as serving different purposes: she describes how learning goals interact with well-being goals.

Boekaerts  proposed a model of SR in which students face two priorities in classroom learning: to 1) achieve growth goals that increase resources (e.g. students seek to deepen their knowledge or increase their cognitive and social skills) and to 2) maintain emotional well-being (e.g. to look smart and protect their ego, or they try to avoid harm and secure resources). Students strive to balance these two priorities.

arrowsIn mastery or growth process student pursuits self-chosen goals which is energised from the top down (Top-Down Self-Regulation) by motivation such as personal interest, values, expected satisfaction, and rewards. The SR is top down also because students’ adopted learning goals steer the process. When SR is triggered by cues from the environment it is bottom up (Bottom-Up Self-Regulation). Boekaerts’ model posits that students become concerned with emotional well-being when environmental cues signal that all is not well and that resources have to be redirected.

A search for well-being implies that students are more concerned with maintaining or restoring positive feelings than with the pursuit of growth goals. However, bottom-up SR is not maladaptive when it functions to prepare the student for learning. There are different types of coping strategies that student can use when he/she feel troubled, such as seeking social support and problem solving, which are viewed as adaptive. Contrasting to these are strategies such as aggression, avoidance, denial, and passive behavior which can be viewed as maladaptive. However, for the student these kinds of strategies can be adaptive if they succeed in restoring their well-being.

Boekaerts concludes that students who are faced with chronic stressors such as learning and emotional disabilities primarily use SR processes to maintain and restore well-being. Self-regulated learning, in contrast, develops when student’s are engaged in a purposeful manner in solving  complex problems and dealing with challenging tasks in any given subject matter.

3. Volitional strategies: As described by Corno (2001), volitional strategies such as time and resource management, prioritising goals and marking completed tasks are important in school as well as in life in general. Vermeer, Boekaerts, and Seegers (2001) also found that in difficult situations students’ willingness to maintain learning intentions and persist toward learning depends on their awareness of and access to volitional strategies. When students have access to well-refined volitional strategies which are manifested as good work habits, they are more likely to 1) stay on the growth track (i.e. volition strategy use supports top-down SR) and 2) get off the well-being track when a stressor blocks learning (i.e. volition strategy use helps students recover from maladaptive forms of bottom-up SR).

Zimmermann, B. J. (1989). A Social Cognitive View of Self-Regulated Academic Learning.

1. Triadic reciprocality model is very central in social-cognitive theory. The model was developed by Albert Bandura and it explains human behavior. From social-congnitive theory point of view SRL is not determined merely by personal processes; these processes are assumed to be influenced by environmental and behavioral events in reciprocal way. (However, reciprocality does not mean symmetry in strength between them.)

Triadic reciprocality

Personal determinants are peoples knowledge, beliefs and values that influence their behavior. A person’s behavior causes how they are reacted to by others (environment). Environment in turn, such as social interaction, can alter personal characteristics or behavior. Personal characteristics of a person (e.g. age, gender, race) can also elicit reaction from the environment without regards to the behavior of the person.

Here’s a classroom example of triadic reciprocality to make it clearer. In the classroom a teacher presents a lesson to the class, and students reflect on what the teacher is saying. Here the environment influences students’ cognition, a personal factor. Students who don’t understand a point raise their hands to ask a question. Here personal factors influence behavior. So, the teacher reviews the point. Here behavior influences environment.

2. Self-efficacy according to Bandura refers to “beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.” More simply, self-efficacy is what an individual believes he or she can accomplish using his or her skills.

I think i can 2

Social cognitive theorists assume that self-efficacy is a key variable affecting self-regulated learning.  Students with high self-efficacy have displayed better quality learning strategies and more self-monitoring of their learning outcomes. Social cognitive theorists assume that self-regulation composes of three classes of sub-processes: self-observation, self-judgment, and self-reaction. These performance-related subprocesses are assumed to interact with each other in reciprocal fashion.

Among the three major types of influence, self-efficacy is considered a key personal (i.e., self-) influence. Self-observation, self-judgment, and self-reaction are depicted as major categories of performance-related influence. Two major classes of environmental influence are the physical context and social experience. In accordance with social cognitive theory, the major types of personal, behavioral, and environmental influence are assumed to be interdependent.

Self-regulated learning is never an absolute state of functioning but rather varies in degree. When a learner can exert strategic control over each of the three types of influence (i.e. personal, behavioral and environmental), he or she can be described as self-regulated.

3. Self-Regulated Learning Strategies: Bandura ascribes much importance to a learner’s use of self-regulation strategies. In his view, applying the strategies provide a learner with valuable self-efficacy knowledge. This knowledge, in turn, is assumed to determine which strategies the student selects to use.

The purpose of each strategy is to improve students self-regulation of their (a) personal
functioning, (b) academic behavioral performance, and (c) learning environment, so these strategies are closely tied to Bandura’s triadic reciprocality model.

Bandura has distinguished the following strategies:

  • Self-evaluating (students evaluate their progress and quality of work)
  • Organising and transforming (students rearrange their instructional material to improve learning)
  • Goal-setting and planning (students set themselves goals and subgoals, and schedule their tasks)
  • Seeking information (students seek additional information for example from internet)
  • Keeping records and monitoring (students for example take notes of lectures, reading materials etc.)
  • Environmental structuring (students try to make the environment such that it makes learning easier, for example a quiet place to read)
  • Self-consequenting (students imagine or arrange themselves a reward after completing a task or reaching a goal, or a punishment if not)
  • Rehearsing and memorising (students try to memorize the material)
  • Seeking social assistance (students ask for help from teachers, peers or other who could help)
  • Reviewing records (students read notes, textbooks or tests to prepare for next class or test for example)

The strategies of organizing and transforming, rehearsing and memorizing, and goal setting and planning focus on optimizing personal regulation. Strategies such as self-evaluation and self-consequences are designed to enhance behavioral functioning. The strategies of environmental structuring, seeking information, reviewing, and seeking assistance are intended to optimize the students’ immediate learning environment.

Hadwin, A.F., Järvelä, S., & Miller, M. (2011). Self-regulated, co-regulated, and socially-shared regulation of learning.

1.  Defining regulation, SRL, CoRL and SSRL: In the article Hadwin, Järvelä and Miller disclose that defining and operationalising regulation, self-regulation, co-regulation and shared-regulation is not consistent. In their perspective regulation of learning is

  • intentional and goal directed
  • metacognitive
  • social
  • learners regulate behavior, cognition, and/or motivation/affect
  • challenge episodes invite strategic regulation of learning.

SRL refers to learner’s planning, monitoring and regulating of congnitive, behavioral, motivational and emotional processes towards completing an academic task or goal. In self-regulation the environment affect  how individual adopts, develops and refines strategies, monitors, evaluates, sets goals, plans, and adopts and changes belief processes. SR occurs in independent, cooperative and collaborative tasks. It changes knowledge, beliefs and strategies that the individual uses, but it also changes the environment (structures and conditions).

CoRL is temporary coordination of self-regulation among self and others. Co-regulation appears in social interactions to mediate temporarily regulation (strategies, monitoring, evaluations, goals setting and motivation). Co-regulation is jointly negotiated, though recognising that each person brings different kinds of self-regulation challenges and expertise to a social interaction that affect the temporary regulation. So in co-regulation the individual is seen as seeking to affect other and is being affected by others with the intention to achieve their goal. Co-regulation occurs in tasks which are designed to have solo, cooperative and collaborative products.

SSRL is interdependent and collectively shared regulatory process. In shared regulation the group employs common strategies and tactics (actively construct strategies and beliefs, monitor, evaluate, set goals, and plan together) to control challenges together. Shared regulation occurs in co-operative and collaborative tasks.

2. About research in SRL, CoRL and SSRL. Research about SRL has relied much on self-report instruments and performance measures and investigate the influence of social factors in individual self-regulation at a single point in time. It has been critiqued that these measures may fail to capture the fine and dynamic adaptations that learners make within and across studying sessions. Consequently, contemporary researchers have started to explore methods (such as think-aloud method and computer trace data) that would better capture the cyclical nature of SRL as it acts with social contexts.

In CoRL research, discourse analysis and observation of dialog and transactions between dyads has been dominant. These studies have given information about how interactions support, press, pull or create affordances for the gradual emergence of SRL process. Research has demonstrated the emergence of alternative multi-method approaches to uncover co-regulatory processes. For example, a study conducted by Hadwin, Oshige, Miller and Wild (2009) acknowledges that tasks are dynamic cultural tools that change and develop through student – teacher interaction. The study shows that one measure of co-regulation of task understanding  could be the calibration between student – teacher perceptions of academic tasks with improved calibration demonstrating more productive co-regulated learning between student and teacher.

Hadwin, Järvelä and Miller disclose that in contrast to CoRL research, understanding SSRL demands macro-analytic or combination approach to understand the learning context and how it evolves over time. Social interactions are contextualised in larger episodes to capture regulatory processes as they surface over time. For example, researchers can concentrate on examining the learning episode from the start of the task to the point in which the group’s shared goal is constructed. In general, SSRL research has two promising approaches for determining how groups collaboratively set goals, monitor, evaluate and regulate: examining larger episodes of data across events and examining calibration among individual representations of shared regulatory processes.

3. Issues to consider in future research.  Hadwin, Järvelä and Miller propose five key issues that should be given careful consideration in the future SRL, CoRL and SSRL research:

  • clearer and more consistent use of the terms
  • clearly identify the regulatory process and construct that are investigated
  • concentrate on investigating social aspects of regulation of learning of individuals and groups when they confront a problem
  • investigate how regulation changes in time, that is, how regulation adapts and changes from challenge episode to another, or from task to another
  • how successful SRL, CoRL and SSRL can be optimized to promote the most successful team work, and especially to find out which are efficient instructional interventions that promote co-regulatory and shared regulation prosesses.

ICE Notes from lecture

IDEA: Think about what kind of ideas and thoughts the material evokes in you? What is the idea or thought you think is important and meaningful for you. CONNECTION: Make connections between what you have read and what you already know. Activating the prior knowledge between ideas. What are the key concepts that are related to this phenomenon? EXPAND the perspectives to the topic by considering real life examples, what it could be in practice or how could you use these skills or knowledge for example in your work contexts.

ICE note 1:

On our lecture our professor Sanna Järvelä said that self-regulated learning can be learned, teached, controlled and it’s lifelong. She also talked about experimenting one’s own learning. So self-regulated learning can be practiced and improved, and further more, when you understand what SRL is, you can also teach it to others. I realised that this is exactly what we are doing on our Self-regulated learning – course; we are practicing our SLR. Our weekly solo tasks have been structure in a way that it follows the SRL cycle (see Winne and Hadwin’s model in the picture below):

Winne model

We are planning and setting goals on a weekly basis, when studying we are applying learning strategies that we posses at the same time monitoring and controlling our progress, and finally evaluating and reflecting on our success after which we can adjust our plans, goals and strategies for the next week. This way we are experimenting on our learning, and becoming better self-regulated learners.

Learning does not stop after you graduate, you keep on learning new things in for example work life as well. So learning is life-long, and being a good self-regulated learner, you can benefit from that in your work and free time as well as you can apply the same SRL model; planning and setting goals, applying strategies, adapting and regulating.

ICE note 2:

SR is important in collaborative teams also. In collaborative teams three types of regulation is used: self-regulation, co-regulation and socially shared regulation. I think that if you are skillful in self-regulation, you are able to not only monitor, evaluate and regulate your own emotions, motivation and behavior, but also of others in the group. This in turn, I think, can help the collaborative work to be successful.

Today’s work life and business is very much about collaborative expertise – people join forces to solve complex problems, to find novel solutions and create innovations. But I wonder how many people are aware of their self-regulation processes in work life, and is there a chance to help people come aware of self-regulation processes and self-regulated learning. In many if not in most companies Development Discussion are held with the employees to enhance their development. Development goals set in the discussion for the employee usually and primarily come from the company’s strategy and also secondly from the employees personal wishes and needs for development. But how does Development Discussion actually help employees to develop and learn new things? I think that in most cases they merely give employees goals to achieve, but it’s up the the employee him/herself to achieve the goals the best they can.

This is of particular interest of mine of how people learn and develop in work life. So far in my studies I have not come across much information or research of SR or SRL in work life among employees, so this would be an interesting subject to study and learn more about.


Recall your Solo phase planning. How well did you succeed? Why? Describe one challenge that you had during your task performance. What did you do to manage with the challenge you faced? What would you do differently next time?

The schedule I made for myself did not go as planned, as my 4-year-old son fell sick, and was in fever at home for five days. I had planned to read the articles during daytime when my son should have been at daycare. So, my planned schedule failed miserably, and I also found the articles to be long and hard, and I really had not enough time to digest all the information in them.

What I did, I prioritized my tasks, skimmed the articles to try and find the most important aspects in them, and concentrated on reading those parts in the articles in particular. Recognising my limitations, in this case related to not having enought time to read all the articles in detail, helped me to rescope my work in deciding to skim the articled to find the aspect that are most relevant for me. Note that the most important aspects in the articles for me might not be what others found, or even what the writers of the articles find to be most important. But I try to look at the articles from my point of view, and find what is important for me at this point of my studies. I recognise that there are issues that might be useful for me at a later point in my studies (for example different research methods discussed, that might be useful for me when I’m writing my thesis), and I know that I can return to the articles and read them again, perhaps from a different perspective, as I have gained more knowledge about SRL, and then perhaps view some other issues in the articles more important and meaningful for me.

I think that learning to read scientific articles in general and from the point of view that is meaningful to you is important in research in academia. There are so many articles that you simply cannot read all of them in detail. You have to learn how to skim them, and from some of the articles you might just want to read parts, and when you detect the articles that are most important regarding your work, you can concentrate on reading those articles in detail.

One thing I still want to reflect on is the learning strategies. Looking at the list of learning strategies that Bandura has distinguished, I can recognise myself setting goals and planning in the beginning of the task and also during it, self-evaluating during the task and then resetting goals and re-planning, seeking additional information from internet on unclear theoretical concepts, keeping records of articles I read and the lecture I attended, environmental structuring when arraging a quiet place to read at home (asking my husband to care for the children while I try to study), self-consequenting (usually of having a coffee break after reading a part from the article), and reviewing records, that is, my notes from articles and the lecture now while writing this blog post.

So, I’m pretty happy with my learning strategies, and hope to have more time to concentrate on studying than I did during this first task. Next week I’m going to do the same thing, that is, schedule my work (both in this and other courses) and prioritise my tasks (both related to the courses but also other things I have to manage in my life).



Boekaerts, M. and Corno, L. (2005).Self-Regulation in the Classroom: A Perspective on Assessment and Intervention. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 54 (2), pp. 199-231.

Hadwin, A.F., Järvelä, S., & Miller, M. (2011). Self-regulated, co-regulated, and socially-shared regulation of learning. In B. J. Zimmerman & D. H. Schunk (Eds.),Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (pp. 65-84). New York, NY: Routledge.

Zimmermann, B. J. (1989). A Social Cognitive View of Self-Regulated Academic Learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 81, No. 3, pp. 329-339.

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Wrapping up Learning and Educational Technology -course

In my previous posts I have tried to shortly summarise and reflect what I have learned during my studies in LET so far. The posts have served the purpose for me to think about the issues dealt with in the course and try to organise my thoughts by writing (explaining them for myself and the possible reader). I have to say that I like this way of working, having time to ponder about the subjects on the course in the form of a blog and thus understanding the issues more deeply.

What I’ve learned so far

On our last Introduction to Learning and Educational Technology -class we watched the final products, that is, videos we had done in small groups about what we learned during our course. I was amazed by the creativity and also how different the videos were although they were done from the same “ingredients”, I mean the issues we had dealt with in the course. Watching the videos I felt a sort of epiphany about some issues:

  • the group products really showed that each group member brought their own knowledge and skills together, and by working in collaboration created a joint understanding of the subject, the end products being greater than if they were produced as individual work. I think the end products were even greater than just the sum of the group members, that is, in a group of three, 1+1+1 > 3,
  • the collaboration in making the videos and the final products represented creative collaboration at it’s best,
  • emotions and attitudes in the class while watching the videos was great, everyone was very supportive and positive about the end products. This kind of a positive and good atmosphere creates a good learning environment where everyone feels safe and are receptive and open for learning.
left and right

Image by Adam Simpson,

Looking back at the Introduction to Learning and Educational Technology -course, I see it as an interesting mix of ICT -workshops, collaborative work (jigsaw lessons), and more traditional lectures. In the ICT -workshops we “got our hands dirty” in trying out a multitude of different tools from blog, wiki, Pinterest, Google apps for education, video editing tools, QR coding, augmented reality, etc. On our jigsaw lessons we got to discuss the articles we had read and produced presentations using the many tools available in the wonderful LeaForum. And on the lectures we were given more information about the learning theories, the historical development, present and possible future pedagogy, an interesting and inspiring lecture from Mr. Paul Kirschner about what is high quality learning, and also glimpses to current research conducted in the field of learning and teaching in Oulu University. Combination of these different kinds of classes made the course diverse and interesting, and more over all of them served their own purpose: we were given the chance to experience in practice what is collaborative learning, CSCL, technology enhanced learning, gamification, creative learning, and also self-regulated learning.

What especially will remain in my mind after this course:

  • the historical development of CSCL: how views on learning and teaching are representations of their time and how they have evolved through behavioristic, congnitive, and constructivist views to the present collaborative view of learning,
  • how collaborative learning promotes shared understanding and meaning making,
  • learning is very much a social phenomenon, in which emotions and motivation play an important part,
  • how CSCL promotes formal and informal learning, and extends to learning outside the classroom, bringing peers, parents, and others in the community to be part of the learning,
  • how the role of the learner has changed from passive to an active one who can take control of their own learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving their goals,
  • how the role of the teacher has changed from the mere information giver to more of a guide in learning. The teacher is the orchestrator who needs to carefully consider the theoritical basis of learning and plan the practical realisation of learning, taking into account for example that all the students come to the class with pre-existing knowledge, and how to best make use of the different methods and tools to ensure equal learning opportunities for each student on their own level,
  • the need for renewing of the schooling system in the form of a new curricula to meet the needs of a changing society and to reflect the current understanding about what is good learning,
  • good learning environments should take into account that learners bring different knowledge, skills and attitudes into the classroom (learner centered learning environment), attention is given to what is taught and why it is taught (knowledge centered), assessments should provide students with opportunities to revise and improve their thinking, help students see their own progress, and help teachers to identify possible problems that need to be remedied (assessment centered), and norms in the classroom should be such that encourage risk-taking, opportunities to make mistakes, obtain feedback, and revise. Also, there should be ways to link classroom learning to other aspects of students’ lives (community centered),
  • how technology enables the creation of learning environments where students can learn by doing, receive feedback, refine their understanding and build new knowledge. Technology enables bringing new curricula based in real-life problems into the classroom. It also provides scaffold and tools to enhance learning. Technology also enables building local and global communities.

What’s next?

During our two-year LET studies were are becoming experts in Learning and Educational Technology. By this time I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of learning theories, and have perhaps gained some understanding of the subjects. I still feel like a novice who is eager to take in as much information as possible after which I hope I will feel more confident in discussing the issues more deeply and even critically, posing my own ideas and thoughts about them.

At this stage of my studies I think my interest lies especially in life-long learning and learning of expertise But how do come about being an expert – how to learn expertise? What are the factors that affect learning of expertise? I think learning of expertise is a long process  and interestingly enough, our Learning of Expertise -course will extend over a two-year period. So during that time I’m hopeful that I will understand how learning of expertise is constructed, and become an expert in learning myself. Also I’m looking forward to our upcoming Self-regulated learning -course (self-regulated learning, by the way, I think is one major aspect in learning of expertise as well, though I might have emphasized collaborative learning in my previous post), and also deepening my knowledge on the issues dealt with so far about collaborative learning and CSCL.

So, I’ve started my interesting, and most likely also challenging journey into Learning and Educational Technology. I’ve taken the  plunge and it’s either “sink or swim” – that is, you can either give up and sink or take up the challenge and learn to swim. And remember:


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Looking even further back – about learning of expertise and virtual collaboration

In my last blog entry I was looking back into my first month in LET studies, and in this post I’m looking even further back in my life in trying to define my field of expertise.

Definition of Expertise

Experts have a rich body of usable knowledge (not just a mere list of facts) that they are able to transfer – that is, they are able to use the information in other contexts and think about possible solutions to problems. The knowledge they have acquired affects what they notice and how they organise, represent and interpret information in their environment. An important characteristics of experts is metacognition, the ability to monitor one’s current level of understanding and decide when it is not adequate. But there are differences to expertise as well, as there can be merely skilled experts who are fairly routinized vs. highly competent experts who are flexible and more adaptable (adaptable experts). This is how expertise is defined in ” How people learn: Brain, mind, and school.” Washington: National Academy Press Bransford et al. (2002). Bransford, J. D., Brown, A.L. & Cocking R. R.

For me the word “expert” still brings into mind some very eminent and a distinguished person.

We are experts

Image from Creatice Commons: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig,CC BY-ND 2.0

But perhaps my view of experts has been fixed to those adaptable experts who are almost virtuous in what they do. Perhaps there are a lot more of those skilled experts, in every walk of life and in every age group, from a child to an elderly person.

My expertise

On our Learning of Expertise -course we were asked to look back at our past, and try to define what is our expertise. I’m still a bit hesitant to say I’m an expert in anything, but I quess, having experience in project management for 13 years, I could say that I’m an expert in that. Project management comprises of many different things, such as planning, scheduling, quality management, risk management, change management, team management, communication, reporting etc. (Don´t get me wrong, I’m not perfect in any of these, but know a good deal about them, the same time also realising that I have still a lot to learn about them.) Project managent also requires basic understanding of the subject the project is about. For example, I have been managing projects in which my team has produced customer documentation for customers that operate on telecommunication business area. So I would say that I’m an expert in customer documentation project management.

I have the knowledge of the basic project phases (planning, execution/production, and delivery/verification phases), and knowledge of what those phases often require from project manager. However, as I said, to be able to be a good project manager, you have to have the basic understanding of the subject the project is about. So if I were to be a project manager on some other domain than customer documentation, it would require a lot of work from my side, so that I could be able to adapt my project management skills to a new area. You have to understand what you know and how to use the relevant parts of the  knowledge creatively, but it’s equally important  to understand what you don’t know, and try to resolve those issues.

About virtual collaboration

On our Introduction to Learning and Educational Technology -class I read an article from Karpova, Correia & Baran (2009): “Learn to use and use to learn: Technology in virtual collaboration experience.” The article discussed a study which examined how global learning teams utilized technology in a virtual collaboration to solve complex problems. Time difference and lack of nonverbal cues were identified as challenges the global teams faced. The benefits of virtual collaboration were the opportunities to learn how to use technology in a meaningful way, practice using technology to solve problems, and broaden one’s perspective by communicating with people from different cultures.

While reading the article I felt that the results were of no big surprise to me, as I have experienced all this myself while working as a project manager. I had projects where I had team members from different parts of Finland, China and India. We usually had weekly status meetings with the teams where we used different web meeting tools such as Sametime and WebEx. These tools worked pretty well for our purposes of checking the project status and sharing information.

However, at the beginning of the projects when we first started to work with our foreign colleagues,working together was somewhat problematic due to cultural differences, I could summarise it as both ends not completely understanding each others’ working methods as they were so different from eachother. This was something that could not be solved in an virtual environment, so it was decided that a couple of the Finnish team members (a line manager and a project manager ) travelled over for a couple of weeks, so that they could all work face to face and side by side. This was an opportunity to learn how others  worked and thought. This proved to be really helpful, and from that point on the virtual collaboration starter working better and better all the time. I think virtual collaboration has many positive sides to it, but it is not yet on the level that it would be as effective as face to face collaboration from the social interaction point of view.

In today’s work life people work in teams a lot, and it’s crucial for them to understand other people and work collaboratively. Experts are not an exeption to this, they also more often need to work in groups of other experts than alone. Learning and also learning of expertise is a social and collaborative phenomena which has both challenges and opportunities. Based on my own experience I find the biggest challenge to be the ability to understand other people as they have different knowledge, background and possibly also different culture to yours. So social skills, communication and negotiation are of the utmost of importance in collaborative work and learning.

References: How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition (2000). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press

Karpova, Correia & Baran (2009) Learn to use and use to learn: Technology in virtual collaboration experience. Internet & Higher Education 12, 45-52

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Looking back

Looking back to my first month in our LET studies, I could summarize it as having done lots and lots of team work and trying out multible Web2.0 tools. There has been more of this than traditional lectures which I had been used to in my previous studies back in the 90’s. On our Introduction to Learning and Educational Technology -course we have been reading many different articles (about CSCL and educational technology, for example), discussing them in groups, and finally producing presentations together, usually with some software on a tablet. On our ICT workshop we have been working in pairs and trying out different Web2.0 tools together, the teacher being there to help us in any tricky situation where we might need help. So we are not merely taught the facts and figures about collaborative learning and computer-supported collaborative learning, we are doing it in practise.

at computer class

Image from Creative Commons: Richard Astley-Clemas, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On our ICT workshop the approach to learning about educational technology has been such that we have quite literally started a quest to explore different tools with little intervention from the teacher’s side. First the quest seemed almost daunting, but now that I think of it, this is probably a better way to learn compared to if the teacher had given us lectures about the different software. So, working in collaboration we learn gradually to use the tools, and hopefully proceed in our learning to be able to use them in a pedagogically meaningful way. Learn to use, and then use to learn!

On the other day I was reading the strategy of Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE), “Education and Training 2020”. I was strugg by the grand visions set there, as for example:

“Finland will become the leading developer of learning culture in the world. Learning and teaching will emphasise collaborative approaches, involvement and interaction, combined with building knowledge and competence. Everyone will be guaranteed equal opportunities to process and produce information and to make efficient use of information and communications technology in support of learning.

 Electronic learning materials and diverse learning environments will form a key part of learning and teaching. Determined solutions will guide development of digital infrastructures and digital skills at all levels of education.”

I could not help thinking that are these more pipe dreams, or can this become a reality. There’s a whole lot of work to be done, that’s for sure. But if I were to choose a country where I could imagine this becoming true, it most likely would be Finland. Or what do you thing about this: I just heard that the city of Vantaa in Finland has decided to give tablets (altogether 16.000 pieces) to each student in the city’s schools, and the schools are also gradually moving away from books to digital learning material. Every student has a tablet of their own, and can use them at school, so (unfortunately, in my mind) they are not able to take them home. Anyhow, I’m impressed how progressive this is, and happy that all children there are given an equal chance to use technology for learning. One student in Vantaa commented that “now that we have tablets and the net in our use, the whole world is our learning environment”. He put it pretty well, didn’t he. (You can find the article here in Finnish.)

Picture from Creative Commons: lumaxart, CC BY-SA 2.0

Image from Creative Commons: lumaxart, CC BY-SA 2.0

A few words still about collaborative learning. I mentioned the 21st century skills, the 4C’s: Communication (sharing thoughts, questions, ideas, and solutions), Collaboration (working together to reach a goal), Critical thinking (looking at problems in new ways), and Creativity (trying new approaches to get things done) in my previous post, and I have still been thinking about these, how vital these skills are for young people to obtain and to use in the future in their working life. If I was a teacher I would probably make use of collaborative learning a lot because in my mind in collaborative learning you get to practise exactly these skills. Also, bringing educational technology into the play gives a change for the students to, well, as the boy in Vantaa said “have the whole world as a learning environment”.

 One note still about collaborative learning, a personal note about something I’ve noticed: I find myself constantly observing, regulating and reflecting. I observe the learning environment, my own emotions and motivation, other student’s behavior and emotions, the teachers’ agenda and perhaps even the hidden agenda (by hidden agenda I mean the things the teacher possibly wants us to learn, but does not say that to us directly when  giving a task for us to do). I keep wondering, in the group tasks especially, about what does the teacher want us to learn, what I’m hoping to learn, what do I end up learning, and what do the others learn. I’m hoping to understand these things better when our course about Self-regulated learning starts.

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