Self-Regulated Learning

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Definition of Self-Regulated Learning
Self-Regulated Learning is Fundamental to a CBA
Additional Resources Related to Self-Regulated Learning

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Definition of Self-Regulated Learning

Learning is a complex process that involves our thinking, emotions and behaviors. Becoming proficient learners requires mastery of a set of skills that enable us to effectively integrate these aspects of our learning into a coherent approach to achieving positive learning outcomes. The following definition is offered for self-regulated learning. It was retrieved from:

Self-regulation requires us to be skilled observers of our own learning processes and have the ability to determine the strengths and limitation of our performance, then to improve the processes. Self-regulation involves our metacognitive ability to self-reflect on and regulate the mental processes that influence our thinking, behavior and emotions.

Self-regulated learning assumes that we are cognizant of how we learn, how well we learn, what needs to be improved and how to do it. It assumes a developed capacity to implement and achieve improvement goals and to evaluate the results of our efforts. We accomplish this by controlling our learning processes, being highly motivated, paying attention to details and regulating our thinking, emotions and behaviors.

Self-Regulated Learning is Fundamental to a CBA

School counselors have a responsibility to help students learn how to learn, plan for their future success and cope with the many barriers and challenges to learning that students encounter on their educational journey. Students are not able to maximize their potential to learn without being able to understand, direct and regulate their learning processes. Helping students learn how to self-regulate their learning, therefore, is critical to student achievement and success. Counselors need to help students identify and understand the components of their learning processes and what are the most effective strategies they can use to control and manage them so they can achieve their goals.

Some examples of what counselors can do to help students learn how to self-regulate are:

  • Provide students with examples of how they can self-regulate their learning (e.g., a lesson on study habits that asks them to identify what they currently do and how well they perform in each step). Or, teach them a lesson on test-taking and test-anxiety reduction. Ask them to self-reflect on the processes they use to get ready to take a test and to reduce stress related to having to take the test. Then ask them to develop and implement steps to self-regulate their learning in an effort to improve their test-taking and anxiety-reducing behavior. Ask them to reflect on what in their learning processes needs to be better regulated to improve their learning outcomes. Group and whole class discussion can be beneficial to help students hear how their peers resolve their issues with trying to regulate their learning.

  • Have students maintain a log or journal of the results of reflecting on their attempts to regulate their learning, conclusions drawn, responses made and results achieved. Ask students to be aware of what they were thinking, choices they made and the patterns of their behaviors associated with their attempts to self-regulate their learning. Invite them to periodically review their journal entries and reflect on the progress they have made and the challenges that remain.

  • Have students identify the areas in which they have the most difficulty self-regulating their learning and then work with them to develop self-directed ways to regulate their thinking and behaviors. Encourage students to identify barriers and challenges they face and through self-reflection and applying the strategies they have learned to practice overcoming them.

Additional Resources Related to Self-Regulated Learning

The Internet is a wonderful tool for accessing information on just about any topic. It has been invaluable in helping us to identify what research has demonstrated to be strongly related to students’ academic achievement and well-being, and evidence-based practices that provide concrete examples of how to translate the research findings into meaningful learning opportunities that support student development.


Staying informed about what works and does not work to help students achieve and succeed is one of the defining characteristics of a professional school counselor. Internet search engines can be used to develop a deeper understanding of the topics discussed on the CBA Website. To get you started, here are some additional resources you may find helpful. These resources, however, only scratch the surface of what is available on the Internet or in published books and articles. We encourage you to use search engines to find more resources that will increase your understanding and build your capacity to apply these ideas in your work as school counselors.


An informative video on self-regulation and brain research by Dr. Reggie Melrose.

A video on self-regulation by Lorraine Edwards. She discusses eight strategies for helping students become self-regulated learning.

A video on self-regulated learning by a 6th grade teacher. References strategies from van Grinsven & Tilllema (2006).


This website discusses the major phases in the self-regulated learning (SRL) cycle: planning, monitoring and evaluating. In addition, it discusses how a learner becomes self-regulating.

Excellent summary of self-regulation, development of SRL, research on improving SRL skills, and educational implications.>