Promoting Self-regulated Learning in the First-year Seminar: Evidence and Future Directions

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Presented at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning International Conference

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At many institutions, the first-year seminar serves as an introduction to the learning culture of higher education. As such, first-year seminars have an important role to play in helping students understand college expectations and demands. To be successful in college, students must go beyond surface-level learning, taking ownership of learning by choosing and using the best resources and strategies for the task, as well as reflecting upon and monitoring their progress toward learning goals (Kitsantas, 2002), skills often grouped under the umbrella term “self-regulated learning” (e.g., Zimmerman, 2008). The research discussed in this panel is grounded in the literature on self-regulation strategies and college success, and seeks to answer the question of whether metacognitive and self-regulation skills can be taught effectively through an assignment which requires deliberate practice of the strategies in an authentic context – another course in which the student is currently enrolled. In the Strategy Project assignment, students learn time management, communication, and study strategies in the process of preparing for an actual test, then demonstrate that learning by submitting their test preparation activities as part of a graded project in a first-year seminar course. By encouraging and providing feedback on reflective thinking and goal-directed interaction with faculty and peers, instructors model the process of self-regulation. In this paper, we will report briefly on four completed studies of the efficacy of the strategy project. Results from the first three studies indicate that at specific institutions, the strategy project was successful in improving students’ metacognition and self-regulation, management of time and study environment, and peer learning over the course of a semester. In study 4, which involved the use of the project at another institution, no significant changes in motivation, cognitive and metacognitive strategies, or resource management strategies were observed. However, it appears that regardless of institution, students who completed the strategy project increased their use of deeper level learning strategies, including concept maps, practice problems, and self-quizzing, as well as some surface level strategies such as making flashcards, and working with a group. Given this information, students in a first-year seminar tend to use more effective learning strategies as a result of the project, but further work is needed in varied learning environments. Participants who attend this session may generate ways they can modify the strategy project for their own use in order to create a lasting impact on how their students approach learning.


International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning International Conference


Bergen, Norway

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