Education Self-Regulated Learning
Daniel L. Dinsmore, Meghan M. Parkinson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0112


Self-regulated learning (SRL) is the means by which students are able to independently monitor, adapt, and evaluate their learning. Academic success is greatly increased when students can control their own learning processes. SRL can and should be taught. Teachers should be specifically trained to include explicit instruction in aspects of SRL through all parts of the curriculum. Development of SRL is a gradual and continuous process that can be framed through a variety of theoretical approaches to learning. Although it comprises internal processes, SRL can be observed in students’ task-related behaviors and linked to performance. Researchers, teachers, principals, and policymakers all have reason to understand the importance of SRL to students’ learning in each domain.

General Overviews

While the number of articles in the research literature related to SRL has increased dramatically over the past two decades, there remains little consensus about how the term is defined (Dinsmore, et al. 2008). Generally, SRL refers to an individual’s regulation or control of their own cognition (i.e., thinking), affect (i.e., motivation and emotion), and behavior during learning (e.g., Zimmerman and Schunk 2011). The term “self-regulated learning” differs from the more general term “self-regulation” in that it does not include regulation of behaviors considered outside of academics or learning (e.g., cessation of smoking behavior). Some introductory (e.g., Boekaerts 1997, Winne 2005) and core works (e.g., Boekaerts, et al. 2010) to the topic have been written by various experts in the field of self-regulation and SRL and are described in the following section.

  • Boekaerts, M. 1997. Self-regulated learning: A new concept embraced by researchers, policy makers, educators, teachers, and students. Learning and Instruction 7.2: 161–186.

    DOI: 10.1016/S0959-4752(96)00015-1E-mail Citation »

    This article discusses both the cognitive and motivational dimensions of SRL. It discusses research issues (e.g., the domain specificity of SRL) as well as classroom issues (e.g., whether SRL can be taught).

  • Boekaerts, M., P. R. Pintrich, and M. Zeidner, eds. 2010. Handbook of self-regulation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

    E-mail Citation »

    One of the seminal handbooks on self-regulation that addresses a number of the subtopics listed in this entry (e.g., sociocultural models) as well as chapters not represented in this entry (e.g., organizational self-regulation). This book also contains chapters on the relation of more stable traits to SRL (e.g., personality) as well as some chapters on measurements.

  • Dinsmore, D. L., P. A. Alexander, and S. M. Loughlin. 2008. Focusing the conceptual lens on metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review 20:391–409.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10648-008-9083-6E-mail Citation »

    This article discusses the convergence and divergence of three related constructs: metacognition, self-regulation, and SRL. It specifically addresses the conceptualizations of SRL in the contemporary research literature.

  • Winne, P. H. 2005. A perspective on state-of-the-art research on self-regulated learning. Instructional Science 33:559–565.

    DOI: 10.1007/s11251-005-1280-9E-mail Citation »

    This introduction to a special issue on SRL in Instructional Science provides an introduction and brief history of the term. Additionally, this article examines the evidence for whether or not SRL needs to be scaffolded.

  • Zimmerman, B. J., and D. H. Schunk, eds. 2011. Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance. New York: Routledge.

    E-mail Citation »

    This is a newer handbook on SRL from which many references in this entry are drawn. Many current perspectives are presented as well as retrospectives of the field.

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