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

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