Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Self-testing improves academic performance - self-regulatory cognitive processes

This story has been making the rounds in the blogsphere...so I might as well pass it along. Below I provide a link the the coverage on the Science Blog. These types of stories always grab the attention of the media....but there may be some validity to the notion when one thinks of "self-testing" as a cognitive self-regulatory strategy. At the bottom of this post is some material I recently drafted for a research paper. I tried to provide a brief overview of the self-regulatory cognitive domain, a domain that I view as part of the important non-cognitive domain of conative abilities.

To learn something, testing beats studying (click here)

  • "Remember the dreaded pop quiz? Despite their reputation as a cruel tool of teachers intent on striking fear into the hearts of unprepared students, quizzes -- given early and often -- may be a student's best friend when it comes to understanding and retaining information for the long haul, suggests new psychology research from Washington University in St. Louis."

Some yet-to-be published background text on self-regulation from the blogmaster.

  • The theoretical and empirical self-regulation research, which includes linkages to literature in such domains as self-efficacy, academic goal setting, academic goal orientation, knowledge (domain-specific, strategy) and causal attribution, has been considerable during the past 2 decades (Puustinen Pulkkinen, 2001). Briefly, literature syntheses have identified 5 primary models of SRL (advanced by Boekaerts, Borkowski, Pintrich, Winne, and Zimmerman) (Puustinen Pulkkinen, 2001) and 7 prominent theoretical perspectives (operant, phenomenological, information processing, social cognitive, volitional, Vygotskian, and cognitive constructivist) (Zimmerman, 2001). Although a number of differing models of self-regulated learning exist, most models define academic self-regulation as “an active, constructive process whereby learners set goals for their learning and then attempt to monitor, regulate, and control their cognition” (Pintrich Zusho, 2002, p. 250).
  • Most SRL models share a number of common assumptions. According to Pintrich (2000c), these assumptions are:
    • The active, constructive assumption, which views “learners as active constructive participants in the learning process” (p. 452).
    • The potential for control assumption which assumes that “learners can potentially monitor, control, and regulate certain aspects of their own cognition, motivation, and behavior as well as some features of their environment” (p. 454).
    • The goal, criterion, or standard assumption which assumes that “there is some type of criterion or standard (also called goals or reference value) against which comparisons are made in order to assess whether the process should continue as is or if some type of change is necessary” (p. 452).
    • The mediation assumption which states that “self-regulatory activities are mediators between personal and contextual characteristics and actual achievement and performance” (p. 453).
  • Self-regulated students possess 3 major characteristics and employ 3 major processes (Eccles Wigfield, 2002; Zimmerman, 2000). Self-regulated students typically use a variety of self-regulated strategies, believe they can perform well (positive self-efficacy), and set multiple and varying personal goals. Furthermore, “self-regulated learners engage in three important processes: self-observation (monitoring of one’s activities); self-judgment (evaluation of how well one’s own performance compares to a standard or to the performance of others); and self-reactions (reactions to performance outcomes)” (Eccles Wigfield, 2002, p. 124). Of particular importance to students who experience repeated failure (e.g., students with disabilities) is the finding that students who receive positive feedback from their self-observations and judgments tend to continue to engage in positive goal-directed learning. Conversely, self-observation and judgment that provides frequent unfavorable evaluations and reactions increases the probability of disengagement from learning.
  • According to Pintrich’s (Pintrich, 2000c; Pintrich Zusho, 2002) framework for self-regulated learning, most SRL models include 4 major phases (which do not necessarily occur in an a strict linear sequence): (a) planning and activation; (b) monitoring; (c) control and regulation; and (d) reaction and reflection. These 4 phases are conceptualized to operate in all major domains of human behavior—cognition, motivation and affect, and behavior. As a result, in the most general sense, there are at least 12 major SRL “cells” (4 phases-by-3-behavior domains). Given the resultant complexity of the SRL literature and the necessary decision to refrain from in-depth descriptions of the nuances of different underlying theories in this paper, a pragmatic decision was made to only define and describe, in general terms, the 4 major phases of SRL that operate across cognitive, motivation and affect, and behavior. Examples of specific cognitive, motivation and behavior strategies are included for illustrative purposes. Finally, the relatively small amount of research on classroom-based SRL investigation is surprising given the frequent lament from teachers regarding the importance of a student’s “study habits or skills” (Pintrich Zusho, 2002).

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Anonymous said...

I see you added an "add to google" icon to your website for your feed. I tried it, and still can't get google reader to subscribe to your feed. I can't figure this out, because every other site I've tried works fine. I seriously recommend you start a google reader account or something and figure out what the problem is -- you're probably missing out on a lot of good traffic!

Hope you get things worked out.

Kevin McGrew said...

Thanks for the feedback. I assumed that the Google reader feed was working. This part of blogging is a new to me and I'm trying my best. I'll take a peak to see if I can figure it out.