Gap between Knowing and Using Self-Regulated Learning Strategies

Using self-regulated learning (SRL) strategies is theoretically important for the success of undergraduate studies and research discussed in this website support the positive relationship between SRL and study success. Undergraduates are expected to regulate their learning in order to cope with the challenges of learning new knowledge and skills in an environment where guidance is minimal. There are several well-known self-report instruments (e.g., Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire) that measure students’ level of SRL. However, self-reports can be biased and inaccurate if students do not report actual behaviors. Foerst, Klug, Jöstl, Spiel, & Schober (2017) conducted a study to examine whether there is a gap between what students know about SRL strategies and their actual usage of these strategies.

Results of the study showed that students’ knowledge of the SRL strategies is higher than their actual use of SRL strategies. Similar results were obtained for students taking psychology and students taking economic sciences at the university. This suggested that across subject domains, students have gaps between knowledge and use of SRL strategies. Four reasons given by students for not using SRL strategies stood out:

  1. Not enough time to use SRL strategies

  2. SRL strategies are not beneficial for the given learning situation

  3. The strategies cannot be put to use effectively

  4. It is too arduous to use SRL strategies.

The results have important implications for university education. To yield the benefits from using SRL strategies, university education should work towards bridging the gap between knowing and using the SRL strategies. The reasons given by students for not using the SRL strategies should be addressed by teaching students how and when to effectively apply certain SRL strategies in a given learning situation to achieve study success.

Foerst, N. M., Klug, J., Jöstl, G., Spiel, C., & Schober, B. (2017). Knowledge vs. action: discrepancies in university students' knowledge about and self-reported use of self-regulated learning strategies. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1288.


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