Self-regulation: More than a Grade and GPA


Students are entering college while lacking the necessary skills for a successful academic career. How do I know this? Universities can hardly graduate half of their freshman class within 6 years. Academic support services are on the frontline, fighting against student attrition. The research shows that students who incorporate academic support services into their daily learning strategies improve their academic standing by a full letter grade. Yet, students wait until they are in complete academic peril before seeking help. Student attrition is not a knowledge or GPA problem. The behaviors and decisions leading to poor outcomes is fundamentally the problem. To truly increase an institution’s retention rate, at-risk students must change their poor academic behavior.

In recent decades, more and more scholars focus on self-regulation skills in their education researches. In Handbook of Self-regulation, Zimmerman (1999) defined self-regulation as self-generated thoughts, feelings, and actions that are planned and cyclically adapted to the attainment of personal goals (p. 14). Further, Zimmerman (1999) emphasizes that self-regulation is dynamic process. In other words, self-regulation skills not only simply connected with personal traits and abilities, but also one’s beliefs and motivations. Based on the self-regulation theory, many educators realized the importance of teaching self-regulation skills in classroom. In the year of 1986, Weinstein and Mayer developed the model of strategic learning where self-regulation is considered as an important component in strategies teaching. According to the model, self-regulation includes skills of time management, concentration, systematic approaches to learning and accomplishing, coping with academic stress, managing motivation for learning and achievement.

Many scholars point out that self-regulation skills play a crucial role in academic learning. For example, Wolters (1999) concludes that self-regulation learning strategies has positive impact on high school students’ cognitive engagement, effort as well as classroom performance. In the context of high education institutions, it is also widely accepted that self-regulation skills could predict higher GPA and lack of self-regulation results in bad academic performance as well as high retention. In Hunt et al’s five-year study (2012), the senior students in a public university self-report in the survey that the barriers in achieving high GPA largely account for their withdrawal. Further, most of the barriers are in the domain of self-regulation such as poor study habits and time management skills, lack of interest in course work, and anxiety of academic learning.

To lower college attrition rate, StudyTree is dedicated to build students’ self-regulation skills. For example, with the help of StudyTree’s academic data integration, students will be able to develop learning plans based on their previous performance and self-evaluation. By integrating student-centered learning strategies such as Jigsaw study groups and peer tutoring, StudyTree increases students’ participation and ultimately their learning motivation. Further, StudyTree lowers students’ academic anxiety by providing struggle students with various resources including institutional learning resource, outside consumer learning tools and learning strategy workshops. In conclusion, StudyTree emphasizes learning-to-learn skills which facilitates college students to become life-time learners rather than simply improving their academic grades.

Boekaerts, M., Pintrich, P. R., & Zeidner, M. (Eds.). (1999). Handbook of self-regulation. San Diego: Academic Press.

Hunt, P. F., Boyd, V. S., Gast, L. K., Mitchell, A., & Wilson, W. (2012). Why some students leave college during their senior year. Journal of College Student Development, 53(5), 737-742.

Weinstein, C. E., & Mayer, R. E. (1986). The Teaching of Learning Strategies. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of research on teaching (3rd ed., pp. 315-327). New York: Macmllian.

Wolters, C. A. (1999). The relation between high school students’ motivational regulation and their use of learning strategies, effort, and classroom performance. Learning and individual differences, 11(3), 281-299.

By: Xueye Yan & Ethan Keiser

Learning-to-Learn: Bring Jigsaw into Academic Life

Teacher and students b/wJigsaw learning is considered as one of the most effective learning techniques in today’s university classrooms. Students report to have deeper understanding of various topics through information exchange in Jigsaw learning. In a Jigsaw learning activity, students are divided into groups at the very beginning. Then, the students will be asked to leave their original groups and join topic groups. Within topic groups, the students create discussion on different subtopics of a certain topic. At the end of the activity, the students return to their original groups and pass each other their discussion of subtopics. Through learning from peers, the students in the groups will be able to form comprehensive understanding of the certain topic.

As a graduate student studying Second Language teaching, I am quite familiar with Jigsaw task in language classes. According to Pica, Kanagy and Falodun (1993), Jigsaw task was more likely to generate opportunities for students to use target languages than traditional language learning methods. When I worked as a language teacher in an adult English as Second Language class, I once developed a Jigsaw reading activity based on an story-telling article. Through my classroom observation, I have noticed that many students who used to be shy became more talkative in Jigsaw group discussion. Therefore, I firmly believe that Jigsaw task contributes to a more communicative rather than an instructor-orientated class.

In fact, Jigsaw learning is not limited to second language learning. Many studies suggest that Jigsaw learning are effective learning method in various disciplines. In 2010, Doymus, Karacop and Simsek concluded that Jigsaw cooperative learning has positive effect on students’ conceptual understanding of electrochemistry after tracing first-year undergraduate students’ grades in general chemistry course. Similar conclusions is drawn by Slish (2005) after he compared student performance in biology tests based on whether they are in Jigsaw learning group or passive learning group. In addition to facilitating students’ conceptual understanding, Jigsaw learning helps establish a supportive learning environment which brings students positive learning experience. Further, such positive learning experience also intensifies students’ learning motivation. In his study (2007), Gomleksiz examines the effect of Jigsaw learning in Turkish engineering students’ English language class. The attitude scale of students in Jigsaw study group indicated that the cooperative learning experience had motivated engineering students in English learning .

Due to the positive effect of Jigsaw learning on students’ performance, StudyTree considers Jigsaw Study Group as an important support in our academic support system. In order to prepare at-risk students for exams, StudyTree groups students based on their self-evaluation. Within Jigsaw Study Group, each student prepares topics they are strong at and lead group discussions on these topics. By allowing students to play both roles of tutors and learners, StudyTree not only motivate students in academic learning but also help building a student-centered learning community.


Doymus, K., Karacop, A., & Simsek, U. (2010). Effects of jigsaw and animation techniques on students’ understanding of concepts and subjects in electrochemistry. Educational Technology Research and Development, 58(6), 671-691.

Gomleksiz, N. (2007). Effectiveness of cooperative learning (jigsaw II) method in teaching English as a foreign language to engineering students (Case of Firat University, Turkey). European journal of engineering education, 32(5), 613-625.

Pica, T., Kanagy, R., & Falodun, J. (1993). Choosing and using communication tasks for second language instruction and research. In G. Crookes, & S. M. Gass (Eds.), Tasks and Language Learning: Integrating Theory and Practice (pp. 3-34). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Slish, D. F. (2005). Assessment of the Use of the Jigsaw Method and Active Learning in Non-Majors, Introductory Biology. Bioscene: Journal of College Biology Teaching, 31(4), 4-10.

By: Xueye Yan