Professional Development Conference: Dr. Linda Nilson 25-26 August 2014


Way Beyond Study Skills: Self-Regulated Learning

Dr. Nilson has worked on teaching and learning at Clemson U, Vanderbilt U, and UCLA.

Studies show marked improvement due to using SRL.

SRL: conscious monitoring and planning of one’s own learning.

Outcomes: define SRL, distinguish from meta-cognition, enumerate benefits to students, and have students practice it.

Many college instructors were among the best students and therefore don’t understand that most students are not self-aware.

Misconceptions: Learning is something that “happens” to a student. Learning should be easy. A failure to learn is the instructor’s fault. Learning failures are due to a lack of native talent.

SRL is the antidote: Planning, Self-Monitoring, Self-Evaluating (Shraw). This involves emotional/motivational control, metacognition, and control over physical environment.


1. What is this task?

2. What do I know?

3.What do I need to know?

4. What strengths do I bring to this task?

5. How interested/confident am I?

6. Is the environment suitable?

7.Am I distracted?

8. Am I making progress?

9. How does this relate to what I know/my goals?

10. Am I resistant to new beliefs that challenge old ones?

11. How well did I achieve my goals?

12. What was most important?

13. What would I change next time?

SRL requires behaviour best summarized as “grit”: self-control, discipline,, courage, deferred gratification.

SRL activity #1: Write down all the important points that you can recall and any questions you have.

Bandura’s research showed that self-efficacy and self regulation are vital to learning. Instead many K to 12 educators foster self esteem.

One metaanalysis showed that teacher clarity and metacognition were more powerful than many other factors. SRL improves deeper thinking, conscious focus, professionalism, motivation, and adult success, including delayed gratification and avoidance of procrastination, stress management, social skills, etc. A

Avoidance of procrastination is correlated with many forms of success.

SRL Activity #2: How does the material you’ve heard so far connect or conflict with your prior knowledge, beliefs, or values?

Getting Students to Practice

1. Students must understand SRL practice. Schedule SRL activities for marks. Students don’t mind short, low-stress exercises for 1%. And they are easy to mark. Instructors and students will results.

2. Motivate students by explaining SRL benefits.

Student reflections: What was the main point of the reading? What most confused you? Students who answered these questions showed marked improvement in comprehension.

Students who evaluated their own confidence before/after solving a problem showed improvement.

Teaching Deferred Gratification and Avoidance of Procrastination

Have students write an essay on how they got an A in this course. use these ideas in small-group discussions.

Causes: fear of failure, issues with authority, low self-efficacy, self-deception, not setting daily goals, the perceived necessity of secondary tasks, over-commitment, perfectionism, etc.

Ask students these questions: What tasks do I procrastinate on? What do these tasks have in common? Have students write outline of next paper in class. Have students submit first draft – but has to meet standards, for modest marks. Don’t give students too much time before submitting final draft. Penalize students who submit late assignments by requiring them to write more. Reward students who submit work early with tokens which can be exchanged for some other benefit.

Struggling students benefit the most from SRL. Use activitieswidely throughout course, award marks for all relevant activities.

SRL Activity # 3

1. What’s the most useful or valuable thing you’ve learned?

2. What is the most unexpected or surprising idea you’ve encountered here?


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