Learning strategies and self-regulation in context: how higher education students approach different courses, assessments, and challenges

Abstract

This study’s aim was to analyse the decisions higher education students make about learning strategies. We focus on research questions related to the strategies that students report, their strategy adaptability to different learning situations, and the association of learning strategies with students’ self-regulated learning and academic performance. We carried out qualitative semi-structured interviews with 17 higher education students of Psychology and Sports Sciences with different self-regulatory profiles and levels of academic performance. The results indicate that students reported mainly basic learning strategies, but the level of elaboration of their cognitive and metacognitive operations was different although they use the same terms to identify their strategies. In addition, we found that students change their learning strategies depending on different factors, with a noticeable influence of assessment activities, and that students with low academic performance showed organization problems and limited knowledge of learning strategies. We present some implications for the promotion of critical use of learning strategies.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Alonso-Tapia, J., Panadero, E., & Díaz Ruiz, M. A. (2014). Development and validity of the emotion and motivation self-regulation questionnaire (EMSR-Q). The Spanish Journal of Psychology 17, E55. https://doi.org/10.1017/sjp.2014.41

  2. Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: a handbook for college teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bazeley, P. (2013). Qualitative data analysis. Practical strategies. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Boud, D., & Falchikov, N. (2006). Aligning assessment with long-term learning. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 31(4), 399–413. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602930600679050.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Broekkamp, H., & Van Hout-Wolters, B. H. A. M. (2007). Students’ adaptation of study strategies when preparing for classroom tests. Educational Psychology Review, 19(4), 401–428. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-006-9025-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Brown, G. (2018). Assessment of student achievement. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Cai, Y. (2019). Moving from both ends towards the middle: The fluctuation of strategy use by Hong Kong secondary students across three years. In Paper presented to Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference 2019, December 1-5, 2019, Brisbane, Australia.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Cai, Y., & Kunnan, A. J. (2020). Mapping the fluctuating effect of strategy use ability on English reading performance for nursing students: a multi-layered moderation analysis approach. Language Testing, 37(2), 280–304. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532219893384.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Chen, P. H. (2019). In-class and after-class lecture note-taking strategies. Active Learning in Higher Education, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787419893490.

  10. Coertjens, L., Van Daal, T., Van Petegem, P., Donche, V., & De Maeyer, S. (2013). Differential use of learning strategies in first-year higher education: the impact of personality, academic motivation, and teaching strategies. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(2), 238–251. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Coertjens, L., Brahm, T., Trautwein, C., & Lindblom-Ylänne, S. (2017a). Students’ transition into higher education from an international perspective. Higher Education, 73(3), 357–369. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-016-0092-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Coertjens, L., Donche, V., De Maeyer, S., van Daal, T., & Van Petegem, P. (2017b). The growth trend in learning strategies during the transition from secondary to higher education in Flanders. Higher Education, 73(3), 499–518. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-016-0093-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Credé, M., & Phillips, L. A. (2011). A meta-analytic review of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(4), 337–346. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.LINDIF.2011.03.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Credé, M., Roch, S. G., & Kieszczynka, U. M. (2010). Class attendance in College. Review of Educational Research, 80(2), 272–295. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654310362998.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design. Qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Dignath, C., & Büttner, G. (2008). Components of fostering self-regulated learning among students. A meta-analysis on intervention studies at primary and secondary school level. Metacognition and Learning, 3(3), 231–264. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11409-008-9029-x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Dignath, C., Büttner, G., & Langfeldt, H. P. (2008). How can primary school students learn self-regulated learning strategies most effectively?. A meta-analysis on self-regulation training programmes. Educational Research Review, 3(2), 101–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2008.02.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Dinsmore, D. L., Alexander, P. A., & Loughlin, S. M. (2008). Focusing the conceptual lens on metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review, 20(4), 391–409. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-008-9083-6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Edwards, R., & Holland, J. (2013). What is qualitative interviewing? London: Bloomsbury.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Hattie, J., Biggs, J., & Purdie, N. (1996). Effects of learning skills interventions on student learning: a meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 66(2), 99–136. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543066002099.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Heikkilä, A., & Lonka, K. (2006). Studying in higher education: students’ approaches to learning, self-regulation, and cognitive strategies. Studies in Higher Education, 31(1), 99–117. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070500392433.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Khiat, H. (2019). Using automated time management enablers to improve self-regulated learning. Active Learning in Higher Education, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787419866304.

  23. Kikas, E., & Jõgi, A. L. (2016). Assessment of learning strategies: self-report questionnaire or learning task. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 31(4), 579–593. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-015-0276-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Koivuniemi, M., Panadero, E., Malmberg, J., & Järvelä, S. (2017). Higher education students’ learning challenges and regulatory skills in different learning situations / Desafíos de aprendizaje y habilidades de regulación en distintas situaciones de aprendizaje en estudiantes de educación superior. Infancia y Aprendizaje, 40(1), 19–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/02103702.2016.1272874.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Kvale, S. (2007). Managing quality in qualitative research (book 5 of the SAGE qualitative research kit). London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Lord, R. G., Diefendorff, J. M., Schmidt, A. M., & Hall, R. J. (2010). Self-regulation at work. Annual Review of Psychology, 61(1), 543–568. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.093008.100314.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: a guide to design and implementation. The Jossey Bass (Vol. 2nd). San Francisco. https://doi.org/10.1097/NCI.0b013e3181edd9b1.

  28. Miles, M. B., Huberman, M., & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Noyes, D., Donche, V., Coertjens, L., & Van Petegem, P. (2017). Transitions to higher education. Moving beyond quantity. In E. Kyndt, V. Donche, K. Trigwell, & S. Lindblom-Ylänne (Eds.), Higher Education transitions. Theory and research (pp. 3–12). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Panadero, E., & Alonso-Tapia, J. (2014). How do students self-regulate? Review of Zimmerman’s cyclical model of self-regulated learning. Anales de psicologia, 30(2), 450–462. https://doi.org/10.6018/analesps.30.2.167221

  31. Panadero, E., Klug, J., & Järvelä, S. (2016). Third wave of measurement in the self-regulated learning field: when measurement and intervention come hand in hand. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 60(6), 723–735. https://doi.org/10.1080/00313831.2015.1066436

  32. Panadero, E., Fraile, J., Fernández Ruiz, J., Castilla-Estévez, D., & Ruiz, M. A. (2019). Spanish university assessment practices: examination tradition with diversity by faculty. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 44 (3):379–397. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2018.1512553

  33. Pekrun, R. (2020). Self-report is indispensable to assess students’ learning. Frontline Learning Research, 8(3), 185–193. https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v8i3.637.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Richardson, M., Abraham, C., & Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students’ academic performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(2), 353–387. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026838.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Rovers, S. F. E., Stalmeijer, R. E., van Merriënboer, J. J. G., Savelberg, H. H. C. M., & de Bruin, A. B. H. (2018). How and why do students use learning strategies? A mixed methods study on learning strategies and desirable difficulties with effective strategy users. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02501.

  36. Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (2012). Qualitative interviewing: the art of hearing data (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Schellings, G., & Van Hout-Wolters, B. (2011). Measuring strategy use with self-report instruments: theoretical and empirical considerations. Metacognition and Learning, 6(2), 83–90. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11409-011-9081-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Sitzmann, T., & Ely, K. (2011). A meta-analysis of self-regulated learning in work-related training and educational attainment: what we know and where we need to go. Psychological Bulletin, 137(3), 421–442. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022777.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Soderstrom, N. C., & Bjork, R. A. (2015). Learning versus performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 176–199. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691615569000.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Sorić, I., & Palekčić, M. (2009). The role of students’ interests in self-regulated learning: the relationship between students’ interests, learning strategies and causal attributions. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 24(4), 545–565. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03178767.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Valle, A., Rodríguez Martínez, S., González Cabanach, R., Núñez Pérez, J. C., & Rosário, P. (2009). Diferencias en rendimiento académico según los niveles de las estrategias cognitivas y las estrategias de autorregulación. Summa Psicológica UST, 6(2), 31–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Veenman, M. V. J. (2017). Learning to self-monitor and self-regulate. In R. E. Mayer & P. A. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of research on learning and instruction (2nd ed., pp. 197–219). New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Weinstein, C. E., Acee, T. W., & Jung, J. (2011). Self-regulation and learning strategies. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 126, 45–53. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.443.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Yang, J., Schneller, C., & Roche, S. (2015). The role of higher education in promoting lifelong learning. Unesco Institute for Lifelong Learning.

  45. Zimmerman, B. J., & Moylan, A. R. (2009). Self-regulation: where metacognition and motivation intersect. In D. H. Schunk & B. J. Zimmerman (Eds.), Motivation and self-regulated learning. Theory, research and applications (pp. 299–231). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

Research funded by Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad) National I+D Call (Convocatoria Excelencia) project reference EDU2016-79714-P. Additional funding by Fundación BBVA project “Transition to higher education”, and by Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, Convocatoria de Investigación en Innovación Educativa 2020, project “Empleo interdisciplinar y formativo de las rúbricas en educación superior” (UFV2020-46).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Daniel García-Pérez.

Ethics declarations

The study was approved by the Ethical Committee of the project principal investigator’s (third author) former university (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid). All participants were informed and agreed to participate in the study through an informed consent.

Additional information

Daniel García-Pérez. Departamento de Psicología, Facultad de Ciencias Biomédicas, Universidad Europea de Madrid, C/ Tajo, s/n. Villaviciosa de Odón, 28670, Madrid, Spain. E-mail: daniel.garcia3@universidadeuropea.es; danielgarcia.research@gmail.com

Current themes of research:

Daniel García-Pérez’s research has been devoted to pupil participation, formative assessment, and self-regulated learning.

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Panadero, E., García-Pérez, D., Fernández-Ruiz, J. & Rodríguez, H. (Accepted). A transitional academic year to higher education: challenges, experiences and strategies at the final year of the university preparatory level. Estudios sobre Educación.

Panadero, E., García-Pérez, D. & Fraile, J. (2019). Self-assessment for learning in Vocational Education and Training. In S. McGrath, M. Mulder, J. Papier, y R. Stuart (eds.). Handbook of Vocational Education and Training: Developments in the Changing World of Work, pp., 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49789-1 Online ISBN 978-3-319-49789-1.

García-Pérez, D. & Montero I. (2017). Propuesta de marco conceptual para la democracia y la participación del alumnado en la escuela/ Proposal of conceptual framework on pupil participation and democracy in schools. Revista Brasileira de Educação, 22 (71), p. 1-16.

Juan Fraile. Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, Madrid, Spain

Current themes of research:

Juan Fraile’s research focuses on formative assessment, especially on self-assessment and related instruments such as rubrics and scripts.

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Fraile, J., Panadero, E., & Pardo, R. (2017). Co-creating rubrics: The effects on self-regulated learning, self-efficacy and performance of establishing assessment criteria with students. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 53, 69-76.

Panadero, E., Fraile, J., Fernández Ruiz, J., Castilla-Estévez, D., & Ruiz, M. A. (2019). Spanish university assessment practices: examination tradition with diversity by faculty. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 44(3), 379-397.

Ernesto Panadero. Facultad de Psicología y Educación, Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao, Spain. IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science, Bilbao, Spain

Current themes of research:

Ernesto Panadero has a twofold research interest: first, the understanding and promotion of self-regulated learning—at the individual level—and socially shared regulated learning—at the collaborative learning level; second, the relationship between self-regulated learning and the use of formative assessment (mainly self-assessment but also peer assessment)

Most relevant publications in the field of Psychology of Education:

Panadero, E., Broadbent, J., Boud, D., & Lodge, J. M. (2019). Using formative assessment to influence self-and co-regulated learning: the role of evaluative judgement. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 34(3), 535-557.

Panadero, E., Jonsson, A., & Botella, J. (2017). Effects of self-assessment on self-regulated learning and self-efficacy: Four meta-analyses. Educational Research Review, 22, 74-98.

Panadero, E. (2017). A review of self-regulated learning: Six models and four directions for research. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 422.

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

García-Pérez, D., Fraile, J. & Panadero, E. Learning strategies and self-regulation in context: how higher education students approach different courses, assessments, and challenges. Eur J Psychol Educ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-020-00488-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Learning strategies
  • Self-regulated learning
  • Higher education
  • Academic performance
  • Strategy adaptability