Current Projects

How do Students Adaptively Regulate Learning in the Face of Academic Challenge?

Allyson F. Hadwin, Elizabeth A. Webster, & Terry Hansen

The purpose of this study is to examine how learners adaptively regulate learning over 11 consecutive weeks. Three research questions are addressed: (1) Do students regulate by experimenting with new strategies when they encounter similar challenges in the future? (2) Do students continually encounter similar challenges in consecutive weeks (indicating maladaptive regulation)? (3) How do students who evidence adaptive regulation differ from those who evidence maladaptive regulation in terms of (a) quality and specificity of study goals, (b) confidence in goal attainment, (c) perceptions of goal attainment, and (d) self-evaluations of strategy effectiveness. Conditional probability matrixes and multi-level modelling will be used to look for patterns of adaptive or maladaptive regulation as well as to describe differences in groups of students in terms of goals, goal attainment, and confidence over 11 weeks of studying.

Comparing Scripts for Goal Setting in Self-Regulated Studying

Adrianna Haffey, Allyson F. Hadwin, & Elizabeth A. Webster

This paper compares the quality of goals learners set under different scripting conditions for guiding or prompting goal setting. Participants included a purposeful sample of 3 high performing and 3 low performing undergraduate students enrolled in eight different offerings of a first-year course that teaches students how to self-regulate their learning (N=48). Students’ weekly self-set studying goals from the beginning, middle, and end of the semester were coded for quality and compared (a) within-person over the semester and (b) across scripting conditions. Qualitative analysis revealed two types of change. First, goals generally improved over the course of the semester with the most marked improvements occurring mid semester and often slight to moderate declines at the end of a semester. Second, the most discernible differences in quality of goals occurred in semesters when goals were heavily scripted, but there was little evidence that students continued setting high quality goals after the scripts were removed. Findings from this study will contribute to the development of goal setting scripts that have potential to support students to more productively regulate studying.

Emotion Regulation During Online Collaborative Tasks

Elizabeth A. Webster & Allyson F. Hadwin

This study examined emotion regulation during computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL). The following research questions were posed: (a) What emotions do students experience before, during, and after a CSCL problem-solving task? (b) What are students’ goals and strategies for regulating their emotions? And (c) how do students’ emotions and strategies change in a second follow-up task? In groups of three to five, 175 undergraduate students completed two online collaborative tasks. Students reported (a) their emotional state before, during, and after each task, and (b) a goal and strategy for regulating their emotion before and during each task. Frequencies indicated that, in general, students (a) felt positive about the collaborative tasks, (b) intended to increase or maintain positive emotions and decrease negative emotions, (c)  intended to focus on the task or think positively to achieve their emotion regulation goals, and (d) thought their groups as a whole should enact the emotion regulation strategies. These patterns were similar from the first CSCL session to the second, with some differences. Implications of this preliminary investigation and future directions are discussed.

Toward the Study of Intra-Individual Differences in Goal Setting and Motivation Regulation

Allyson F. Hadwin, Elizabeth Webster, Stephanie Helm, Lindsay McCardle, & Amy Gendron

The purpose of this study was to examine the evolution of motivation regulation and goal setting by undergraduate students over 9-weeks in an academic semester. Weekly online reflections were coded for: (a) goal quality, and (b) type of academic challenge experienced that week. Students self-evaluated goal attainment from the previous week and rated their efficacy for achieving the goal they set this week. Findings indicated that the motivational challenges (particularly willpower) are the most frequent challenges students encounter over the course of a semester. When students confront motivational challenges, they tend to set low quality behavioral goals that are met with future motivational and goal management challenges. However, over the course of an academic semester, students developed increased confidence in their abilities to achieve goals, self-reported higher goal attainment, and set goals of higher quality in terms of specificity and proximity.

Regulation of motivation: Exploring students’ goals and strategies for motivational state in university tasks

Lindsay McCardle, Mariel Miller, Amy Gendron, Stephanie Helm, Allyson F. Hadwin, & Elizabeth A. Webster

Self-regulated learners systematically adapt their behaviour, cognitions, and motivation in order to reach learning goals (Zimmerman, 1989). Though motivation is posited to be a critical component of self-regulated learning (Wolters, 2003), research addressing how students regulate their motivation is scant. The purpose of this study was to investigate students’ goals for motivational states, their suggested strategies to achieve those goals, and the link between goals and strategies in authentic university tasks. Students enrolled in a first-year course to improve self-regulated learning completed a Motivation Regulation Questionnaire to report their motivationally challenging task, goals and chosen strategies. Students reported a variety of goals types and suggested diverse strategies. Students’ goals and strategies were most often focused on finding value and increasing interest in the task. Further research addressing students’ motivation regulation and actual strategy use is needed.

Academic Goals and Self-Regulated Learning: An Analysis of Changes in Goal Quality, Goal Efficacy, and Goal Attainment Over Time

Elizabeth Webster, Stephanie Helm, Allyson Hadwin, Amy Gendron, & Mariel Miller

This study investigated the nature of academic goals set by university students for authentic studying tasks throughout the course of a semester. Ratings of self-efficacy for goal attainment and perceived actual attainment were also obtained. Participants included 43 undergraduate students enrolled in a first-year elective course providing instruction in self-regulated learning. Changes in goal quality, goal efficacy, and goal attainment as well as the relationship between efficacy and attainment were analyzed. Results revealed significant gains in all three constructs over the semester. Correlations between efficacy and attainment indicated that perceived attainment for one goal was associated with enhanced efficacy for the subsequent goal, whereas efficacy and attainment for the same goal did not show a consistent relationship. Overall, these findings suggest that improvements in goal quality along with experiences of perceived success may help to increase students’ confidence. Furthermore, the information obtained about the characteristics of self-set goals over time can be used to inform instruction in goal setting. More research is needed to further explore and expand upon the findings.

A Longitudinal Analysis of Task Specific Goals, Goal Efficacy, and Goal Attainment as Indicators of Self-Regulated Learning

Amy Gendron, Elizabeth Webster, Mariel Miller, Stephanie Helm, and Allyson Hadwin

The purpose of this study was to explore the nature of academic goals as they developed over a 13-week semester. Specifically, this study examined the following questions:  (a) Do goal qualities and attributes change over 13 weeks? (b) Is there a difference in monitoring accuracy and bias for students who set high, moderate, or low quality goals by the end of the semester? Participants included 44 undergraduate students enrolled in a graded credit course called Learning Strategies for University Success. Weekly goal statements set at the beginning and end of the semester were collected and coded, along with self-reported ratings of goal efficacy and attainment throughout the semester. Findings indicated that setting higher quality goals, specifically goals with high specificity, short terms, and process orientations, provides opportunities for students to more accurately monitor their confidence for achieving those goals. These findings support the theory of self-regulated learning and our hypothesis that setting goals that are specific, process oriented, and identify a short term provides opportunities  for students to more accurately monitor their confidence for achieving those goals.

Task Understanding and Self-Regulated Learning in University Students

Stephanie Helm, Mariel Miller, & Allyson Hadwin

At a post-secondary level academic assignments or tasks are often a crucial forms of instruction, meant not only to help students learn key course concepts but also to engage students in discipline style tasks and thinking. It is important to know, however, how students are interpreting these tasks, whether they are interpreting these tasks correctly and how task understanding may relate to students performance on these tasks.  Theories of self-regulated learning suggest that how students perceive a task (task understanding) is foundational for later stages in the SRL cycle as it is from their definition of the task that they select appropriate goals and strategies for completing the task.  This article will outline a model of task understanding that elaborates on this first stage of task definition.  Current research supporting this model will be outlined.  Finally, suggestions for promoting and improving task understanding in post- secondary students will be discussed

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