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The Role of Self-Regulated Learning in Contextual Teaching

As teachers are pressed to extend their craft to prepare more diverse students for the challenge of work and life beyond school, they are challenged to provide more authentic instructional contexts and activities than traditional knowledge-based curricula. In order to be successful, teachers must be reflective and analytical about their own beliefs and practices and they must acquire a deep understanding of cognitive and motivational principles of learning and teaching. Toward this end, we examine how teachers can model and promote self-regulated learning for their students. Self-regulated learning is characterized by three central features; awareness of thinking, use of strategies, and situated motivation. These features of independent learning need to experienced, constructed, and discussed among teachers so that they understand how to nurture the same development among students. Then the focus of instruction is shifted to fostering strategic and motivated students rather than delivering curricula or managing classroom behavior.

We review 12 principles of self-regulated learning, in four general categories, that can be used by teachers in the classroom. Within the category of self-appraisal, we discuss how teachers can analyze their own learning styles, evaluate their own understanding, and model cognitive monitoring. Within the category of self-management, we discuss how teachers can promote mastery goal orientations, time and resource management, and use “failure” constructively. We discuss how self-regulation can be taught with various tactics such as direct instruction, metacognitive discussions, modeling, and self-assessment of progress. The last several principles are discussed as ways to help students gain a sense of their personal educational histories and to shape their identities as successful students participating in a community of learners. In the final section of the chapter, we describe an example of a successful partnership between a university, a community, and teachers that enacted these principles of self-regulated learning in authentic contexts of teaching and learning. We note the promises and obstacles confronting teacher education programs in implementing more demanding and contextualized instructional practices.

The Role of Self-Regulated Learning in Contextual Teaching: Principles and Practices for Teacher Preparation

The purpose of this set of commissioned papers is to explore ways that educators can strengthen the relevance and meaningfulness of what is taught and learned in schools. As Borko and Putnam (this volume) state in the first chapter, there is a great deal of concern that teachers and schools are failing to help children acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are crucial for life outside school and in the workplace. The challenge we face is how to make the learning in schools more authentic, more useful, and more contextualized for students so that they are equipped to solve problems that they confront in and beyond school. How can we connect schools to real life contexts or situations so that all students are successful once they leave the classroom? How can we provide students with the skills and motivation to be self-regulated and life-long learners?

The other chapters in this volume explore the notion of contextualized learning and teaching from various perspectives. Each chapter identifies specific strategies for linking schools to communities and the workplace that increase students’ awareness about the application, rather than mere accumulation, of knowledge. Borko and Putnam provide a social-constructivist perspective on cognition that emphasizes the distributed and collaborative nature of learning. Wade focuses on the power of service learning for university students as a way of connecting schools to community needs. Lynch and Harnish examine ways to prepare teachers to use work-based learning to link their students to the world of work. Young argues eloquently for the importance of culturally relevant pedagogy so teachers are sensitive to students who have different backgrounds, lifestyles, and values. Darling-Hammond and Snyder focus on the importance of authentic assessment for contextualizing the meaningfulness of learning and promoting students’ motivation. Pierce examines ways that teachers can use problem-based teaching to foster inquiry about issues that integrate the curriculum and apply students’ knowledge.

Although each of the authors in this volume brings a different approach to the issue of making school more relevant to the outside world, there are some common threads among their views. From our perspective, it seems clear that teachers need to provide instruction across a more extended variety of contexts, incorporate a wider set of perspectives, and implement a more extensive set of instructional strategies than has traditionally been the case. In each of these new contexts, with each of these unfamiliar perspectives, and with each of these new strategies, teachers need to be much more thoughtful and reflective about their teaching and about their students. All of these chapters extend the notion of education beyond the acquisition of skills and information in their emphasis on learning in diverse contexts as necessary for subsequent application of knowledge.

We examine how teachers can help their students become more autonomous, strategic, and motivated in their learning so that they can apply their efforts and strategies in a variety of meaningful contexts beyond school. Our premise in this chapter is that teachers need to understand their own thinking to become more effective in nurturing the thinking of their students. When new teachers have acquired an understanding of the social and situated nature of learning, an appreciation of the importance of authentic contexts, the habit of reflecting upon their own experiences, and the willingness to question their own assumptions and beliefs, then they will be more prepared to create the kinds of learning climates that will enable students to learn the lessons that really matter. This view is consistent with the recommendations of a special Committee on the Teaching of Educational Psychology, created by Division 15 of the American Psychological Association, who advocated that future teachers use a psychological perspective on learning to create a coherent framework of ideas about student learning (Anderson, Blumenfeld, Pintrich, Clark, Marx, & Peterson, 1995). They argued that deeper understanding of the cognitive, motivational, and situated characteristics of learning can help teachers design better instruction.

In this chapter we will examine the conceptual foundations of self-regulation and how it is related to learning strategies, metacognition, motivation, and related constructs of contextual teaching and learning. We will explore the benefits that accrue to teachers when they become more knowledgeable about metacognition and engage in effective self-regulation. Next we will identify and explain some principles of self-regulation that can guide teachers’ decision-making. We will examine how these principles can be put into practice both in the preparation of teachers and in the instruction of students. Then, we will examine how one teacher preparation program attempts to help new teachers become more aware of their own learning and teaching. Next, we will consider the obstacles, both conceptual and organizational, that teachers confront as they try to become reflective, metacognitive, and self-regulative in their classrooms. Finally, we end with some suggestions and policies that can help new teachers become more thoughtful and effective in helping their students experience success in and beyond school.
What is Self-Regulation of Thinking and Learning?

The term self-regulated learning (SRL) became popular in the 1980’s because it emphasized the emerging autonomy and responsibility of students to take charge of their own learning. As a general term, it subsumed research on cognitive strategies, metacognition, and motivation in one coherent construct that emphasized the interplay among these forces. It was regarded as a valuable term because it emphasized how the “self” was the agent in establishing learning goals and tactics and how each individual’s perceptions of the self and task influenced the quality of learning that ensued. In the past ten years, a great deal of research has focused on a constructivist perspective on SRL (e.g., Paris & Byrnes, 1989), on social foundations of SRL (e.g., Pressley, 1995; Zimmerman, 1989), on developmental changes in SRL (e.g., Paris & Newman, 1990), and on instructional tactics for promoting SRL (e.g., Butler & Winne, 1995). The integrative nature of SRL stimulated researchers to study broader and more contextualized issues of teaching and learning while also showing the value of SRL as an educational objective at all grade levels. Interested readers can trace the history and various theoretical orientations to SRL in a volume by Schunk and Zimmerman (1989). What is important for teacher educators is that SRL can help describe the ways that people approach problems, apply strategies, monitor their performance, and interpret the outcomes of their efforts. In this brief overview, we focus on three central characteristics of SRL; awareness of thinking, use of strategies, and sustained motivation.

Awareness of thinking. Part of becoming self-regulated involves awareness of effective thinking and analyses of one’s own thinking habits. This is metacognition, or thinking about thinking, that Flavell (1978) and Brown (1978) first described. They showed that children from 5-16 years of age become increasingly aware of their own personal knowledge states, the characteristics of tasks that influence learning, and their own strategies for monitoring learning. Paris and Winograd (1990) summarized these aspects of metacognition as children’s developing competencies for self-appraisal and self-management and discussed how these aspects of knowledge can help direct students’ efforts as they learn. We tried to emphasize that the educational goal was not simply to make children think about their own thinking but, instead, to use metacognitive knowledge to guide the plans they make, the strategies they select, and the interpretations of their performance so that awareness leads to effective problem-solving. Our approach is consistent with Bandura (1986) who emphasized that self-regulation involves three interrelated processes; self-observation, self-evaluation, and self-reaction. Understanding these processes and using them deliberately is the metacognitive part of SRL.

Use of strategies. A second part of SRL involves a person’s growing repertoire of strategies—for learning, studying, controlling emotions, pursuing goals, and so forth. However, we want to emphasize that our concern is with “being strategic” rather than “having” a strategy. It is one thing to know what a strategy is and quite a different thing to be inclined to use, to modify it as task conditions change, and to be able to discuss it and teach it. There are three important metacognitive aspects of strategies, often referred to as declarative knowledge (what the strategy is), procedural knowledge (how the strategy operates), and conditional knowledge (when and why a strategy should be applied) (Paris, Lipson, & Wixson, 1983). Knowing these characteristics of strategies can help students to discriminate productive from counterproductive tactics and then to apply appropriate strategies. When students are strategic, they consider options before choosing tactics to solve problems and then they invest effort in using the strategy. These choices embody SRL because they are the result of cognitive analyses of alternative routes to problem-solving.

Sustained motivation. The third aspect of SRL is motivation because learning requires effort and choices. Paris and Cross (1983) argued that ordinary learning fuses skill and will together in self-directed actions. SRL involves motivational decisions about the goal of an activity, the perceived difficulty and value of the task, the self-perceptions of the learner’s ability to accomplish the task, and the potential benefit of success or liability of failure. Awareness and reflection can lead to a variety of actions depending on the motivation of the person. Researchers and educators have characterized SRL as a positive set of attitudes, strategies, and motivations for enhancing thoughtful engagement with tasks but students can also be self-directed to avoid learning or to minimize challenges. When students act to avoid failure instead of pursue success, attribute their performance to external or uncontrollable forces, use self-handicapping strategies, or set inappropriate goals, they are undermining their own learning. These behaviors are self-regulated but may lead to diminished effort, task avoidance, and other actions that decrease engagement and learning. Learned helplessness, apathy, and defiance may also be counterproductive motivational responses to learning that can be overcome with better understanding of SRL. In our view, teachers need to understand students’ motivation in order to understand how they learn, what tasks they choose, and why they may display persistence and effort or, conversely, avoidance and apathy. Self-regulation thus implies “personalized cognition and motivation” (Hickey, 1997) that exemplifies behaviors that may or may not be consistent with the teacher’s agenda for learning. Because teachers need to be diagnostic about their students’ learning styles and orientations, it is helpful to analyze students’ awareness, use of strategies, and their motivation.

It is important to note that our view of self-regulated learning does not conflict with Borko and Putnam’s view of cognition as situated, social, and distributed. They argue, and we agree, that to understand knowledge and learning, we must better understand the importance of contexts, social relationships, collaboration, and cooperation. Self-regulated learning does not mean that knowledge and learning exists solely in the mind of an individual. Rather, self-regulated learning recognizes that individuals have some control over their own learning, across contexts, across relationships, and across situations. We think that teachers who use a psychological lens to analyze students’ strategies, motivation, and attitudes gain deeper understanding about students’ behavior in the classroom which, in turn, allows them to design better instruction that can make learning more meaningful for them.
Why is Self-Regulation Important for Teachers?

Understanding the notion of self-regulation is important for teachers because teaching requires problem-solving and invention. Teachers face problems and challenges that are complex and rarely straightforward. As Schon (1987) points out, teaching teachers facts and rigid decision-making models is less effective than nurturing within teachers the capacity and skills to deal with the difficult problems of the real world. It is ironic that teachers are often taught with pedagogical methods that are contrary to the principles that they are being taught, such as direct instruction on problem-based learning or cooperative learning. Corno and Randi (1997) advocate that teachers should be given the same contexts, challenges, and choices that are beneficial for students and we agree wholeheartedly. They describe a model of professional development called “collaborative innovation” in which teachers work together to adapt, invent, evaluate, discuss, and revise instruction that fits their own classrooms and contexts, including such factors as students, time, buildings, resources, accountability pressures, and parents. In our view, collaborative innovation provides opportunities for teachers to become self-regulated, strategic, and motivated themselves as they invent their methods of instructing and assessing students which mimic the processes of collaborative innovation that they want their students to discover and create. It is a professional development model of the co-construction of meaningful experiences.

One of the most well-known approaches to providing teachers with both capacity and skills to be innovative is the work on reflective practice (e.g., Dewey, 1933; Liston & Zeichner, 1987; Schon, 1983; 1987; 1991). Although definitions of reflective practice vary, in general, it refers to the teacher’s ability to engage in active, persistent analysis of his or her beliefs and knowledge and the consequences that follow from those beliefs and knowledge. Ross (1990), for example, defined reflection as a way of thinking about educational matters that involves making rational choices and assuming responsibility for those choices. Ross (1990, p. 99) goes on to say that the elements of reflective practice include:

• recognizing educational dilemmas;

• responding to a dilemma by recognizing both the similarities to other situations and the unique qualities of the particular situation;

• framing and reframing the dilemma;

• experimenting with the dilemma to discover the implications of various solutions;

• examining the intended and unintended consequences of an implemented solution and evaluating it by determining whether the consequences are desirable.

Ross’s definition incorporates the earlier work of Dewey (1933), Schon (1983), and Liston and Zeichner (1987) by emphasizing the importance of requisite attitudes, such as introspection, open-mindedness, and a willingness to accept responsibility, and requisite attributes, such as teachers’ values and moral structure. These are part of teachers’ implicit pedagogical theories that are manifested in their practices. Clearly, teachers’ attitudes, attributes, and understandings will influence the kinds of student difficulties that will be recognized, how those difficulties will be interpreted and diagnosed, and what judgments are made about the desirability of various solutions.

Schon (1991) poses several questions about reflective practice that are important for teachers to consider:

1. What is it appropriate to reflect on?

2. What is an appropriate way of observing and reflecting on practice?

3. When we have take the reflective turn, what constitutes appropriate rigor?

4. What does the reflective turn imply for researchers’ stance toward the educational enterprise—the subjects, the research activity, and researchers themselves?

These are key questions with complex answers. We believe that the conceptual framework of SRL provides one important perspective useful in addressing these four questions. In particular, we feel that understanding the notion of SRL enhances a teachers’ ability to be reflective because SRL provides additional insights into the issues of teaching and learning, particularly those that arise when teachers are faced with the challenge of connecting their teaching and the students’ learning to the real world. Knowing more about their own thinking, developing effective strategies, and sustaining their own motivation will be crucial for teachers interested in making schooling more relevant to the outside world.

In addition, by combining the notions of contextual teaching and SRL, teachers gain a deeper understanding of the learning experiences that face their students. Teachers have a better sense of what is entailed in those experiences, what obstacles need to be overcome, and what teaching or learning strategies will be called into play. For example, Wade (this volume) argues that much of the value in service learning comes from the changes in students’ abilities to question their own thinking, assumptions, and motivations. One of the driving questions about service learning is how to set up experiences in communities that encourage students to become more aware of their own understanding of and involvement in meaningful civic participation.

Finally, the more that teachers understand about their own thinking, the better they can model for students. Understanding self-regulation can help teachers make thinking public and visible. Thinking—strategic, independent, and inquisitive—then becomes a topic of classroom discussion and an explicit goal of education. Understanding the nature of self-regulation and how it is nurtured opens up a world of possible roles and relationships between teachers and students. That is why metaphors of teaching as coaching and mentoring are popular today; they emphasize how teachers design and scaffold experiences that lead students to emulate the wisdom of teachers.
Turning Principles into Practice

Our aim of focusing on SRL in preparing teachers to use contextual teaching is to help new teachers better understand themselves as thinkers so they can impart a metacognitive curriculum to students that is thought-provoking and stimulating. In this section, we focus on some of the principles that describe how teachers can become engaged in SRL and, correspondingly, what they can do to promote children’s self-regulation. We offer the following list as guidelines for enhancing self-regulation for both teachers and students. Each is explained and illustrated as an example of turning theory into practice.
1. Self-appraisal leads to a deeper understanding of learning.

One general aspect of metacognition is the periodic appraisal of one’s thinking. It is useful for teachers and students alike because it is reflection on the dynamics of teaching and learning, the core of education, and a first step to changing or revising one’s approach. Here are some ways that self-appraisal enhances learning.

A. Analyzing personal styles and strategies for learning, and comparing them with others, increases awareness of different ways of learning. Teachers can assess their own learning strategies in college by examining the processes they use to write papers, the tactics they use to search for information in the library or on the Internet, or their methods of studying for tests. Each of these activities are similar to the tasks they will present to children so they need to become aware of their own learning strategies and then compare them to other options. For example, teachers may discover that some people use notes or outlines before writing but others do not; some may revise 20 times while others revise once; some may ask for friends to read early drafts but others are reluctant to share their writing. Teachers need to know why adults choose particular methods for writing papers so that they can create situations in which their students discover the same range of styles. Teachers also need to become aware that learning strategies are often unexamined, often superficial or easy, and often difficult to change. Unless they go through the process of explaining, discussing, and justifying their own strategies, they may not understand how children can create or adopt poor learning strategies. Moreover, until one discusses why strategies are chosen and if someone would give up their strategy, they may not realize how entrenched people can be with their prior habits.

B. Evaluating what you know and what you do not know, as well as discerning your personal depth of understanding about key points, promotes efficient effort allocation. Perhaps the most surprising finding from early metacognitive research was that children are often unaware of what they do not know (Markman, 1981) and unable to distinguish important from unimportant information (Brown & Baker, 1983). Either they fail to reflect on what they do not understand or mistakenly assume that things make sense when they do not. This is exactly why periodic self-appraisal is useful. Teachers may fail to discern their own understanding also. Sometimes they follow a teachers’ manual or prescribed lesson plan so carefully that they fail to ask if it makes sense to themselves, if all the information is necessary to teach, or if it could be presented in a more sensible sequence.

How can teachers learn to judge their own knowledge states in a contextualized manner? One possibility is to have them evaluate a lesson that they are preparing to teach to identify the important and secondary information. This can be done through highlighting or summarizing in a way that can be used directly with students also. Another method is to identify aspects of the lesson that may be confusing to them so that they do not provide superficial or erroneous information to students. Another method is to ask questions of other teachers about their lesson plans to prompt them to assess their own level of understanding and to provide warrants for their teaching.

C. Periodic self-assessment of learning processes and outcomes is a useful habit to develop because it promotes monitoring of progress, stimulates repair strategies, and promotes feelings of self-efficacy. Research on children’s reading has shown that they rarely stop as they read a passage to determine if it makes sense, if their rate is appropriate, or if they need to reread (e.g. Winograd & Paris, 1988). Instead, they read start to finish and then are perplexed if they cannot answer the teachers’ questions. When children fail to monitor their comprehension, they may erroneously attribute poor performance to their low ability rather than lack of strategic reading and they may feel ashamed of their reading instead of proud. Adults can exhibit similar behavior. For example, college students who write a single draft of a paper because they procrastinated until the last minute and then feel relieved simply that it was done are exhibiting poor strategies, failure to plan and monitor, and little sense of accomplishment or efficacy with the result. What can be done?

Teachers can model comprehension monitoring with each other during joint reading. For example, using the reciprocal teaching technique developed by Palincsar and Brown (1984), teachers can take turns as the “student” reading or the “teacher” asking questions. This demonstrates the value of periodic monitoring for teachers in a way that is directly replicable in the classroom. Another contextualized strategy is to review progress on reports and projects at the beginning, middle, and end of the activity so that the learning strategies are reviewed and revised if necessary during the construction of the activity. At the end, teachers should discuss their attributions for success and take pride in their use of strategies.
2. Self-management of thinking, effort, and affect promotes flexible approaches to problem-solving that are adaptive, persistent, self-controlled, strategic, and goal-oriented.

SRL cannot be reduced to a list of steps to follow nor a menu of options because the construct denotes dynamic actions of learners engaged in complex problem-solving. Therefore, management of resources, including time and collaboration with others, must be negotiated and renegotiated with management of one’s available strategies, motivation, and affect. Self-regulated learners do not simply follow a plan of action; they adapt to changing conditions and know what to do when they encounter problems. It is the flexible responses to unforeseen circumstances that typifies self-regulation and it is important to note that self-regulated learners do not lose sight of their goals or lose positive perceptions of themselves when things do not unfold as planned.

A. Setting appropriate goals that are attainable yet challenging are most effective when chosen by the individual and when they embody a mastery orientation rather than a performance goal. When goals are set by others, behavior is compliant or obedient rather than self-directed. However, setting goals is difficult for children and adults are often unaware of the problems. For example, children often set goals such as “I will work harder” or “I will read more books” but these are performance goals that do not emphasize conceptual understanding and deep learning. When goal setting activities promote performance goals instead of mastery orientations, SRL is actually undermined (Anderman & Maehr, 1994). A further problem encountered by children is that they often choose unattainable or distant goals such as “I’ll be the best reader in class” or “I’ll get all A’s on my report card” that are forgotten, not checked, or stated to appear virtuous rather than a realistic guide or standard to attain.

Teachers can understand the difficulties encountered in setting goals when they engage in the process themselves. For example, at the beginning of a course, the instructor can ask teachers to list their goals for the course and then discuss them in small groups. This exercise can be used to point out differences between proximal vs. distal goals, attainable vs. unattainable goals, and performance vs. mastery goals. Furthermore, the conversations can consider when goals are made as guides for the student as opposed to high aspirations intended to impress or please others. This discussion should contrast deep and shallow approaches to goal-setting and demonstrate the value in mastery goals set at a challenging standard.

B. Managing time and resources through effective planning and monitoring is essential to setting priorities, overcoming frustration, and persisting to task completion. SRL requires abundant practice for children to become proficient. Thus, teachers need to provide practice making choices and establishing priorities.

About Moch Wahib Dariyadi

Saya adalah Bloger asal Malang yang menyukai kegiatan yang berhubungan dengan perkembangan IT, Design dan juga Pendidikan. Berupaya untuk selalu menebarkan kebermanfaatan bagi sesama.

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