Thursday, October 06, 2011

Begin IQ Series # 16: Self-regulated learning: Planning and Activation

This is the 16th installment in the Beyond IQ series. This installment defines the self-regulated learning domain of planning and activation [All installments in this series (and other related posts and research) can be found by clicking here].

Self-regulated learning: Planning and Activation--Conceptual Background and Definition

The metacognitive processes involved in setting initial goals and activating prior domain- relevant knowledge and task relevant strategies.

Effective self-regulated students use forethought when approaching a task in order to develop a plan and to activate relevant prior knowledge necessary for successful task performance. Planning and activation is defined as the processes of: (a) setting initial task specific goals (goal setting); (b) activating (often automatically without conscious thought) prior relevant knowledge in the relevant task domain; and (c) activating task relevant metacognitive strategies (e.g., rehearsal, elaboration, comprehension monitoring)(Pintrich, 2000b; Pintrich & Zusho, 2002).

Similar to planning and activation is Snow et al.’s (1996) concept of “action-oriented” individuals. Action-oriented individuals are those who, when faced with a task or activity, take immediate steps to develop and activate a plan. According to Snow et. al. (1996), action-orientated individuals “are able to attend successively or even simultaneously to the present state, some future state, discrepancies between present and future states, and appropriate actions that will transform the present state into the desired future state” (Kuhl, 1987, p. 273). This contrasts with “state- oriented” individuals who “tend to focus on past difficulties and situationally inappropriate intentions. The behavior of state-oriented learners is marked by over- maintenance of intentions that are either unrealistic or should be postponed” (Snow et al., 1996, p. 273).

State-oriented students might be described as procrastinators. Academic procrastination is defined as “knowing that one is supposed to, and perhaps even wanting to, complete an academic task but, failing to perform the activity within the expected or desired time” (Wolters, 2003, p. 179), might be considered as reflecting deficient planning and activation strategies in the motivational domain (e.g., goal orientation adaptation, efficacy judgments). Poor planning and activation (e.g., procrastination) has been linked to negative learning and academic outcomes in the form of higher levels of anxiety and depression, lower levels of self-esteem, cramming before exams, and greater frequency of missing or incomplete assignments (Wolters, 2003).

In the motivational domain, planning and activation may “invoke judgments of efficacy as well as the activation of various motivational beliefs and value and interest” (Pintrich, 2000a, p. 462). Such judgments regarding the student’s self-beliefs (e.g., academic self- concept), motivational orientation (e.g., academic goal orientation), and interests and values, set the stage for a student’s initial feelings, effort, and persistence when engaging in the task. For example, if a student has a strong interest in mathematics and a positive sense of academic (math) self- efficacy, it is hypothesized that they are likely to approach and positively engage in new math tasks. In the behavior domain, SRL planning and activation might be demonstrated via time (e.g., making personal study schedules) and effort (e.g., increasing effort for important tests, record keeping) management.

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