Developing Students' Self-Regulation Skills Within and Outside Academic Modules

Developing Students' Self-Regulation Skills Within and Outside Academic Modules

Peng Cheng Wang, Eric C. P. Chua, Karin Avnit, Sok Mui Lim
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-6500-4.ch014
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COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of online learning, and the authors' university (like many others) is settling into a blended learning approach. In this chapter, the authors share their experiences in improving students' self-regulation of online learning. The first learning experience for most students at the Singapore Institute of Technology is in online, self-paced courses in Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry. Beyond content, these courses provide students opportunities to embrace the ‘norm' of self-paced, self-directed online learning and to expose and encourage them to develop self-regulation skills. Students are required to self-assess and refer to different learning resources independently, based on their identified needs. The authors have also developed another intervention based on Zimmerman's self-regulated learning model, guiding students to plan, monitor, and adjust their learning plans and develop self-efficacy through this process. For students to transfer these skills into their actual studies, the authors provide individual coaching sessions to facilitate students' implementation.
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COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of online learning (García-Morales et al., 2021), and our university, like many others, is settling into a blended learning approach for the new endemic norm. Online learning therefore plays a larger role in our students’ learning compared to before.

In this context we take online learning to be the use of synchronous and asynchronous interaction and communication within a virtual environment, which contrasts with traditional learning where student – teacher interaction and communication occur face-to-face in a classroom (Broadbent & Poon, 2015). Effective online learning requires effort from both the instructor and the student. While instructors gain expertise in effective online teaching (Lim, 2020; Fung et al., 2020), it is necessary for students to also enhance their skills for effective online learning.

Online learning can be more challenging for students than face-to-face instruction, as it requires them to be much more independent and self-directed (Broadbent & Poon, 2015). Success in an online learning environment also relies heavily on a student’s ability to engage in the learning process autonomously and actively (Broadbent & Poon, 2015; Wang et al., 2013). Furthermore, research has shown that students who struggle in face-to-face classes are likely to struggle even more with online learning (Loeb, 2020). For example, in an institutional study on online learning early in the COVID-19 pandemic, we found that many of our students struggled to self-regulate. We also found that weaker students tended to struggle more, reporting low or declining motivation, with additional challenges in time management.

Given the increased importance of online learning and its associated challenges for our students, our university has been finding ways to support our students and help them build capacity for online learning. We are guided by evidence that helping students increase their ability for self-regulation improves their learning. For example, via a systematic review, self-regulated learning strategies of metacognitive self-regulation, time management, effort regulation and critical thinking was found to positively associate with academic success in an online environment (Broadbent & Poon, 2015). We therefore identified that our students may benefit from self-regulated learning training to increase their self-efficacy for online learning.

At the university’s teaching and learning unit, the authors are involved in two initiatives for enhancing self-regulated learning in our students. The first is a large-scale online bridging program for newly matriculated students to brush up on foundational STEM subjects including mathematics, physics, and chemistry. The second is a small-group, non-credit-bearing module that helps students apply self-regulation skills to improve their learning. In this chapter, our main purpose is to share our experience with these two initiatives.

Before discussing the two initiatives, we would like to share our university’s context, to aid readers in understanding the context of the work, and in evaluating its applicability to other contexts. Our university is a large technological university that has several campuses across Singapore. It is a relatively young university established in 2014 to pioneer an applied learning pathway. It offers undergraduate degree programs across a wide range of disciplines including engineering, infocomm technology, health sciences, business, and design. The university enrols roughly 9,000 students. It is one of six publicly funded universities in Singapore, which together provides subsidised university places for 40% of each cohort (Ministry of Education of Singapore, 2022). In Singapore, students typically enter university after completing either ‘A’ levels or a polytechnic diploma. In our case, most students come from the diploma route.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Learning Strategies: An individual's way of organising and using a particular set of skills in order to learn content or accomplish other tasks more effectively and efficiently in school as well as in non-academic settings.

Blended Learning: An approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with physical place-based classroom methods.

Response to Intervention: A system of supports that schools put in place to provide high-quality education to students with disabilities.

Online Learning: Use of synchronous and asynchronous interaction and communication within a virtual environment.

Self-Efficacy: An individual's belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviours necessary to produce specific performance attainments.

Self-Regulated Learning: One's ability to understand and control one's learning environment.

Higher Education: Tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree.

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