Reuben A. Rubio II, PhD
Associate Professor of Education
Indiana Wesleyan University

We now know that effective learning needs to include a healthy dose of self-regulation. Self-regulation means that the learner is taking active steps to improve the quality of his or her learning, which means directing or redirecting thoughts, attitudes, and feelings toward stronger understanding of the subject matter at hand, or even the classroom or the school in general.

Teachers can guide this process by asking students to reflect on the quality of their learning, either during live teaching or within a formative or summative assessment. But how does one determine a question about the quality of one's thinking, and what sort of questions might one ask to discern that quality? Here are some ideas for doing both.

1. Check out the MSLQ.

One of the better ways to arrive at some possible questions is to look at models and associated instruments for self-regulated learning, and “borrow” questions from one or more to use. Panadero (see reference list below) provides a comparison of such models that could be used. For example, take the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire, or MSLQ. You could incorporate several items from there and then ask the students to rate themselves on each item according to either a four- or five-point scale. Not all assessments need to have the exact same item(s), so you could include one or two per assessment and cycle them; after all, the goal is to assess rather than unnecessarily badger students.

2. Motivate students to assess themselves honestly.

The hope is that each student will answer as completely and honestly as possible, rather than provide a certain answer (e.g., the one they think you would like them to give). It is fine to ask the students why they rated themselves a certain way, and for the rubric to award points for an honest, in-depth answer.

3. Follow up with students individually.

It is good to remember that through this practice the student is allowing you to see what is going on inside her or his brain and heart, so be sure to follow up with what the student tells you, both early in the year or term and often. Ask the student to show you a graph of his or her ratings over time in comparison to the grades on the assessment, to explore together whether there is a positive relationship.



Panadero, E. (2017). A review of self-regulated learning: Six models and four directions for research. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(422). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00422