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COM 270 Research Methods in Communication: Literature Review Example

Help with doing research in Communication Studies.

Example: Literature Review as Component of Research Paper or Article

Issues in Educational Research, 19(3), 2009 227

Self-regulated learning in junior secondary English

Sue Harrison and Vaughan Prain, La Trobe University



There is now far greater recognition of the complexity of interlocking cultural, pedagogical, and structural factors that influence middle years students’ learning (Pendergast, 2005; Prosser, McCallum, Milroy, Comber, Nixon, 2008). Older cognitive models of key enablers of learning, namely student ‘will’ and ‘skill’ to succeed (Pintrich & de Groot, 1990, p. 38), have been augmented by far more intricate accounts of contextual factors and their interplay as crucial to improving academic success. Research has also focused on the value of taking into account students’ perspectives in this analysis (Prosser et al, 2008; Sullivan et al, 2009). In this paper we report on some of the outcomes of an attempt in one low socio-economic regional school in Victoria, Australia, to change “normal” curricular organisation and typical daily routines, and create a context of high expectations of student capacity and effort to improve student engagement and self-regulation of learning. The study is presented as indicative of the challenges and opportunities entailed in these changes to students’ and teachers’ roles for school-based learning. This research forms part of an ARC funded project investigating factors affecting disengagement with middle years schooling in a regional setting. The so-called WHOLE project examines this issue from multiple perspectives, including general pedagogical and social interventions, and well as specific initiatives in the key curriculum areas of English, mathematics and science. In this paper we present some preliminary findings of a case study that sought to develop Year 8 students’ capacities to self-regulate their learning in English in one of the three schools in the project, as part of a multi-dimensional approach to addressing student disengagement. The paper focuses mainly on a case study of student self-regulation of learning, drawing on 11 students’ responses to an English program over 11 weeks of schooling in 2008.


Literature review

In developing complex accounts of the conditions that affect student engagement in learning, researchers have shifted focus from the needs of individual learners (effective motivational tasks or activities, and acquisition of explicit meta-cognitive learning strategies) to a broader view of affective and contextual factors that contribute to developing learner perspectives, capacities and scope for independence. These include not just students’ beliefs about their capabilities, and their views about what is worth learning, including volitional strategies to sustain effort (Corno, 2001), but also a focus beyond the individual learner to pedagogical, classroom and other contextual dimensions. These include the role of domain-specific knowledge (Perry, 2002), peer pressure influence on motivation and effort (Sullivan, McDonough & Prain, 2005), possible co-regulatory strategies modelled by teachers to support learning (Hadwin Wozney, & Pontin, 2005), and the broader classroom organisation of learning experiences (Boekaerts & Cascallar, 2006), including appropriate “material resources” (Prosser,

et al, 2008, p. 21). There is also far greater acknowledgement of the key role of the teacher-student relationship and the identities student form from this relationship as crucial factors in effective learning (Apple & Beane, 1999; MacBeath, 2006; Prosser et al, 2008), where low teacher expectations of student capacities have strong negative effects on student effort (Prosser, et al, 2008; Tadich, et al, 2007). Researchers have also focused on students’ aspirations and beliefs about their own capacities, noting that students’ positive views are not always shared by their teachers (Prosser et al. 2008; Sullivan et al, 2009)

Following Fredricks, Blumenfeld and Paris (2004), researchers in the WHOLE project consider that engagement should be understood as a multi-faceted construct. From this perspective, engagement can be characterised behaviourally (strong participation in academic, social and extra-curricular activities), emotionally (affective ties with teachers, classmates and school), and cognitively (investment in effort to master complex problems and skills), with overlap across each area. Therefore, any attempt to increase student engagement with schooling necessarily faces complex challenges, both in terms of thescope for action and the expected role of teachers in promoting this variety of outcomes.

 While noting that diverse factors influence student effort at school, we consider, like many other researchers (Ames, 1992; Boekaerts, 1999; Grinsven & Tillema, 2006; Zimmermann, 2001; Zimmerman & Pons, 1988), that a key element in engaging junior secondary students is promoting their capacity to self-regulate their own learning. An extensive longstanding literature from the 1980s and 1990s (Ames & Archer, 1986; Pintrich & De Groot, 1990; Zimmermann & Pons, 1988) has defined self-regulated learning as the development of independent learning skills. More recently this definition has broadened to include “multi-component, iterative, self-steering processes that target one's own cognitions, feelings, and actions, as well as features of the environment for modulation in the service of one's own goals” (Boekaerts, Maes, & Karoly, 2005). At the same time, Boekaerts and Cascallar (2006), Hadwin et al, (2005) and others, have recognised the key role of learning environments in this mix of academic learning and the  development of a sense of wellbeing, where teachers are crucial in determining what kind of self-regulatory possibilities learners are offered. However, despite this strong advocacy of the value of developing self-reliance in learners, many teachers have struggled to provide learning experiences that enable this learning capacity in students.

 In recent years researchers in this area have identified a range of strategies teachers can use, and classrooms environments they need to create, to promote this learning. There is broad agreement that students should have a sense of autonomy and responsibility for how and what they learn (Boekaerts, 1999; Boekaerts & Corno, 2005; Butler & Winne, 2005: Dembo & Eaton, 2000; Grinsven & Tillema, 2006; Tadich, Deed, Campbell & Prain, 2007; Winne & Perry, 2000), as well as self-efficacy in using and monitoring effective strategies for this learning (Perry, Phillips, & Hutchinson, 2006). For Boekaerts and Corno (2005) such strategies include motivational engagements, direct teaching of metacognitive skills, mentoring and ...