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What Teachers Think about Self-Regulated Learning: Investigating Teacher Beliefs and Teacher Behavior of Enhancing Students’ Self-Regulation

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Abstract

In order to foster self-regulated learning (SRL), teachers should provide students with learning strategies, as well as with constructivist learning environments that allow them to self-regulate their learning. These two components complement each other. When investigating teachers’ promotion of SRL, not only teacher behavior, but also teachers’ beliefs as well as their knowledge about SRL are relevant aspects to consider. Therefore, this study seeks to examine teachers’ knowledge and beliefs on promoting SRL, as well as their predictive value on teachers’ promotion of SRL in the classroom. Forty-seven primary school teachers completed questionnaires on knowledge and beliefs towards both components of the promotion of SRL: strategy instruction and a constructivist learning environment. In addition, teachers had to answer open-ended questions on their understanding of SRL, as well as their implementation of SRL in their classroom. The results show that teachers are more positive towards constructivist than towards SRL (teacher beliefs), and most teachers mentioned characteristics of constructivist learning environments, while only few teachers addressed strategy instruction when being asked about their understanding of SRL (teacher knowledge). Moreover, teacher beliefs are the only predictor for teacher behavior. The results indicate how teacher education could support teachers to learn how to promote SRL effectively.
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Education Research International
Volume 2012, Article ID 741713, 10 pages
doi:10.1155/2012/741713
Research Article
What Teachers Think about Self-Regulated Learning:
Investigating Teacher Beliefs and Teacher Behavior of
Enhancing Students’ Self-Regulation
Charlotte Dignath-van Ewijk1and Greetje van der Werf2
1Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim, A 5, 6, 68131 Mannheim, Germany
2Institute for Educational Research (GION), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Grote Rozenstraat 3, 9712 TG Groningen, The Netherlands
Correspondence should be addressed to Charlotte Dignath-van Ewijk, cdignath@mail.uni-mannheim.de
Received 31 May 2012; Revised 16 August 2012; Accepted 20 August 2012
Academic Editor: Annemie Desoete
Copyright © 2012 C. Dignath-van Ewijk and G. van der Werf. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative
Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
In order to foster self-regulated learning (SRL), teachers should provide students with learning strategies, as well as with construc-
tivist learning environments that allow them to self-regulate their learning. These two components complement each other. When
investigating teachers’ promotion of SRL, not only teacher behavior, but also teachers’ beliefs as well as their knowledge about SRL
are relevant aspects to consider. Therefore, this study seeks to examine teachers’ knowledge and beliefs on promoting SRL, as well
as their predictive value on teachers’ promotion of SRL in the classroom. Forty-seven primary school teachers completed ques-
tionnaires on knowledge and beliefs towards both components of the promotion of SRL: strategy instruction and a constructivist
learning environment. In addition, teachers had to answer open-ended questions on their understanding of SRL, as well as their
implementation of SRL in their classroom. The results show that teachers are more positive towards constructivist than towards
SRL (teacher beliefs), and most teachers mentioned characteristics of constructivist learning environments, while only few teachers
addressed strategy instruction when being asked about their understanding of SRL (teacher knowledge). Moreover, teacher beliefs
are the only predictor for teacher behavior. The results indicate how teacher education could support teachers to learn how to
promote SRL eectively.
1. Introduction
Research on the promotion of self-regulated learning (SRL)
has revealed that students can learn how to self-regulate their
learning, but investigation of training them to do so has
pointed out teachers producing weaker eects of training
than researchers do (see, e.g., [1] for primary school and [2]
for secondary school). Observational studies of teachers fos-
tering students’ SRL have shown that teachers give students
the freedom of self-regulation, but do not prepare them to
handle the new responsibilities (see, e.g., [3]). Although most
teachers tend to use learner-activating teaching methods,
in most cases they neglect teaching their students how to
learn (see, e.g., [4]). However, providing students solely with
autonomy but not with means to execute strategies has not
been found to be beneficial for students (see for an overview
[5]). Both the instruction of metacognitive strategies—stra-
tegies on how to learn—as well as learning environments that
require and enable self-regulation have been found to predict
students’ self-regulation [6].
According to Perry et al. [7], most teachers agree with the
concept to support their students to become self-regulated
learners; yet many of the teachers that they investigated
reported to feel unsure about how to do that. Knowledge of
whether teachers do not know how to enhance their students’
self-regulation or whether (for unknown reasons) they refuse
to, could indicate where teacher training would have to start
and which points would have to be addressed. Kramarski and
Michalsky [8] found that teachers’ ability for SRL was asso-
ciated with their pedagogical knowledge as well as with their
beliefs on student-centered learning. Looking backwards,
it would even enhance our understanding of the delineated
2Education Research International
problem by comparing the beliefs of teachers who are foster-
ing SRL in their classroom to those who are not. As Tillema
[9] found, teacher beliefs are filtering the learning process in
a way that learning is supported only when training content
and teacher beliefs correspond. Thus, both—teachers’ prior
knowledge as well as their beliefs—seem to have an impact
on teacher learning and might also influence teacher behav-
ior.
The goal of the present study was to investigate the
relationship between teachers’ knowledge and beliefs on
fostering self-regulation of learning among their students
and their teaching behavior, while taking into regard strategy
instruction. Equally important was the consideration in how
far students were provided with a learning environment con-
ducive to self-regulation. Since research on SRL is increas-
ingly taking students into account as early as at primary
school age [1], we focused on investigating primary school
teachers’ promotion of SRL.
1.1. Fostering Self-Regulated Learning. When searching the
literature on SRL, it becomes obvious that a wide range of
definitions exists varying among their focus on dierent
aspects of the concept. The probably most-quoted definition
of SRL [10], grounded on social-cognitive theory, stems
from Schunk and Zimmerman [11]: SRL means the learners’
...self-generated thoughts, feelings, and actions which are
systematically oriented toward attainment of their goals.
As the literature shows, teachers can support students to
acquire self-regulation strategies [2,12], using dierent ele-
ments of instruction that are not necessarily mutually
excluding: on the one hand, teachers can model strategy use,
or explicitly instruct strategies [6,1315]; on the other hand,
teachers can structure the learning situation in a way that
students have the opportunity to discover strategic proce-
dures themselves. S. G. Paris and A. H. Paris [14]referto
two well-established theories to provide examples for both
direct as well as indirect ways to support SRL. To illustrate
explicit strategy instruction, they draw on Brown et al. [16]
who distinguish three levels of strategy instruction. On the
lowest level of training, the so-called blind training, students
are induced to use a strategy without providing them with
any information about this strategy in order to foster a
concurrent understanding about the significance of this
activity. They are not explicitly told why to use a certain stra-
tegy, and in which situations this activity is appropriate. The
students are induced to perform a certain activity without
being explicitly informed that this activity is a learning
strategy. Although this can enhance children’s use of this
activity, it is prone to fail in its adaption as a general tool
by the student. The intermediate level includes the informed
training. Students are both induced to apply a certain
strategy but are also provided with some information about
the significance of this strategy. This type of training should
lead to an improved performance as well as keeping the
activity up when a similar problem reoccurs. The self-con-
trol training, the highest level of instruction, combines the
informed training with an explicit instruction of how to
apply, monitor, check, and evaluate that strategy. This type
of training facilitates the transfer of strategy application to
appropriate settings in the most sustainable way [16]. This
aspect plays an important role when looking at the promo-
tion of SRL.
Another example for direct, although less explicit ways
of supporting SRL can be derived from Collins et al. [17]
model of Cognitive Apprenticeship, which assumes successful
teaching to be based on several components of the learning
environment: the content taught, the instructional methods,
the sequencing of learning activities, and the sociology of
learning [17]. This way of apprenticeship almost approaches
or can overlap with explicit strategy instruction. In addition
to this, teachers can design the learning environment in a way
that it fosters students’ self-regulation.
Self-regulation is a complex concept, including various
features of the learner and his or her environment that have
an impact on the learning process [18]. Therefore, the pro-
motion of SRL is supposed to take place on two dier-
ent levels: in addition to systematic strategy instruction,
students need opportunities for exercising self-regulation.
Therefore, features of the learning environment that foster
the application of self-regulation strategies should also be
acknowledged. Theorists on self-regulation describe SRL as
an “inherently constructive and self-directed process” (e.g.,
[19]). In the same scope, Pressley et al. [15] describe success-
ful strategy instruction in constructivist terms. The environ-
ment has to have features that allow active construction of
knowledge, in order to be conducive to SRL.
When investigating teachers’ beliefs on promoting SRL,
both approaches thus have to be taken into account: teachers’
beliefs on the instruction of self-regulation strategies, as well
as their beliefs on the design of the learning environment.
The same applies to teachers’ knowledge on the promotion
of SRL. In the following chapter, we will take a closer look
at theories on teacher beliefs and teacher knowledge and will
transfer these theories to teacher beliefs and knowledge about
the promotion of SRL.
1.2. Teacher Beliefs
1.2.1. A Distinction between Teacher Beliefs and Teacher
Knowledge. According to Pajares [20], when talking about
teachers’ attitudes towards education, one refers to teachers’
edu-cational beliefs as only a subpart of teachers’ general
beliefs system. Beliefs encompass both attitudes and subjec-
tive norms, which makes it dicult to disentangle teachers’
indi-vidual preferences from their opinion on how things
have to be. Knowledge is based on objective facts, while
beliefs are aective and involve a certain kind of judgment
or eva-luation. Therefore, teachers can gain new knowledge,
but are still influenced by their beliefs when deciding whether
they accept it as true or not [21]. Although when examining
teacher knowledge the focus is more on cognition, while
beliefs include more emotional aspects, both concepts are
intertwined and hard to fully separate during assessment
[22].
Teacher knowledge can be classified into three categories:
pedagogical knowledge, content knowledge, and pedagogical
content knowledge [23]. Pedagogical knowledge implies
Education Research International 3
teachers’ knowledge about how to teach, while content
knowledge refers to the subject matter that teachers have to
teach. Pedagogical content knowledge—as opposed to gen-
eral pedagogical knowledge—relates to teaching strategies
on how teachers transfer a specific subject matter to their
students, including knowledge on representing the subject
matter to make it understandable for students, as well as
knowing about students’ conceptions and misconceptions.
Teacher knowledge and beliefs on fostering self-regulated
learning when looking at teacher beliefs on pedagogical prac-
tice, most studies distinguish between two dichotomous con-
cepts: constructivist versus empiricist (also traditional) views
on learning [24]. However, the question is whether both sides
really have to be opposed to each other. When drawing on
the theories on supporting students’ self-regulation reported
earlier in this paper, both conceptions can be beneficial
(see [6]), probably in dierent moments a direct strategy
instruction would probably go along with moments of more
traditional teaching, while the creation of a constructivist
learning environment would of course fit to the construc-
tivist views on learning. Nevertheless, both are necessary
and one cannot work without the other. Several studies
researching teacher beliefs have already questioned a strict
dichotomous distinction between both conceptions [24,25].
Defining teacher beliefs on SRL reveals a complex construct
involving several aspects of teacher beliefs. On the one hand,
this includes how teachers think about learning in general: is
learning regarded as a process of transmission of knowledge
or is learning the process of constructing knowledge? General
beliefs on pedagogical practice can cover this aspect. On the
other hand, beliefs on fostering SRL also include beliefs on
how to instruct and how to foster strategy use, which goes
beyond general pedagogical beliefs, for example, in terms of
beliefs on how many strategies to instruct at a time, or how to
integrate the instruction of a certain strategy into the content
of a lesson, as well as measures taken to support transfer of
strategy use to other contexts.
The same applies to teacher knowledge. Do teachers
know about the importance of providing students with stra-
tegies before or in addition to giving them autonomy while
learning? How much do teachers know about one or both
aspects of fostering SRL? Askell-Williams et al. [26]rank
teachers’ knowledge about scaolding SRL among content
knowledge and among pedagogical content knowledge about
cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies. They report
that beginning teachers lack a strong knowledge on how to
learn [26].
1.2.2. Teacher Beliefs, Teacher Knowledge, and Teaching
Behavior. In his review on beliefs, Pajares [20] sums up that
beliefs strongly influence one’s behavior. Belief structures
more emotional and unstructured than knowledge, take over
in complex or new situations, when appropriate reasoning is
not working. Most reviewers on teacher beliefs and teacher
knowledge conclude that teacher beliefs are stronger pre-
dictors for teacher behavior than teacher knowledge is [20,
27]. Similar knowledge of teachers can thus lead to dierent
teaching behavior. One explanation is that learned knowl-
edge is often not used in practical situations. Many studies
have delivered empirical support for the association between
teacher beliefs and teacher behavior (e.g., [2830]). Hashweh
[29], for example, found that teachers with constructivist
beliefs opposed to traditional beliefs of teaching turned out
to be more likely to help students to elaborate on their ideas
and conceptions, which could indicate teachers supporting
students in using cognitive strategies. However, other studies
could not find evidence for such an association and the
majority of studies have not been able to prove causality (e.g.,
[31]; see for a review [24]).
Beliefs are relatively resistant to change. Only when they
prove unsatisfactory, which they only do when being chal-
lenged, individuals are motivated to replace their beliefs. The
older beliefs are, the stronger they are and the more dicult
they are to replace, even when they are based on incomplete
or incorrect knowledge, and even when people are confron-
ted with new (and correct) information. The perseverance
of beliefs is not only due to their emotional quality, but also
due to encoding biases that support confirmation of existing
beliefs when integrating new information into the beliefs
system. In the same way, perception is aected by beliefs,
which in turn evokes behavior that is consistent with these
beliefs—a self-fulfilling prophecy is at hand.
1.3. The Current Study. This study seeks to examine primary
school teachers’ knowledge on enhancing SRL, as well as their
beliefs on the promotion of students’ self-regulation. In addi-
tion, associations between teacher knowledge, teacher beliefs,
and teacher behavior will be investigated. With regard to
the presented models of fostering self-regulation, teachers’
beliefs on the promotion of SRL were assessed including both
beliefs on strategy instruction as well as beliefs on construc-
tivist learning environments. We therefore used several scales
as well as open-ended questions.
(1) Drawing on the results of observation studies inves-
tigating teachers’ instruction to SRL (e.g., [3,6]), we
also wanted to explore whether teachers report more
positive views on constructivist learning environ-
ments or on the instruction of learning strategies
(teacher beliefs) and whether teachers assign more
importance to creating constructivist learning envi-
ronments or to the instruction of learning strategies
when thinking about fostering SRL (teacher knowl-
edge).
(2) Moreover, we wanted to investigate whether teachers
implementation of SRL in their classroom is posi-
tively related with their beliefs as well as with their
knowledge about the promotion of SRL. Further-
more, we would like to know whether teachers who
perceive both the instruction of learning strategies
and the design of the learning environment as impor-
tant components of fostering SRL demonstrate the
promotion of SRL.
2. Method
2.1. Sample. The questionnaire was sent to a randomized
sample of 300 primary schools within the Netherlands.
4Education Research International
Forty-seven Dutch teachers who taught grade 7 or 8 (This
corresponds to grade 5 and 6 in the US system.) filled in
the questionnaire. Thirty-two teachers were female, fifteen
teachers were male, which overrepresents the percentage
of male teachers, as only 14.5% of Dutch primary school
teachers are men. Teachers’ age ranged from 24 to 63 years,
covering all possible age groups of primary school teachers,
with an average age of 40 years. Teachers’ work experience
rangedfrom0.5to40yearswithanaverageof15yearswork
experience as primary school teacher. The sample might
represent a group of teachers who seem to be interested in
the topic of SRL, although we do not know whether all the
teachers in the sample were highly motivated for SRL in
general.
2.2. Instruments
2.2.1. Teacher Beliefs. In accordance with the model on
fostering SRL presented earlier in this paper, the assessment
of teachers’ beliefs on the promotion of SRL includes both
the instruction of self-regulation strategies (direct way of
enhancing SRL), as well as the design of a SRL-conducive
learning environment (indirect way of enhancing SRL). We
therefore assessed teachers’ attitude towards constructivist
learning environments with the subscale Constructive-
Oriented Beliefs about Learning and Instruction of the
Beliefs about Primary Education Scale by Hermans et al. [32]
that includes eight items. The constructive-oriented beliefs
scale of the BPES was used to operationalize the indirect
way of supporting SRL by creating a constructivist learning
environment. Since we were not interested in traditional
versus constructivist teacher orientation in general but only
with the special focus of fostering SRL, the traditional-
oriented beliefs scale of the BPES was not applied. For the
constructivist learning environment (which is a rather gen-
eral way of (also) fostering SRL (among others)), the items
did not need to be adapted to the special context (since
SRL is constructivist by nature); however, explicit strategy
instruction is much more specific than what the traditional-
oriented beliefs scale would assess, since in this case we
wanted to assess teachers’ orientation with regard to strategy
instruction and not any instruction in general.
Moreover, we assessed teachers’ preference for construc-
tivist learning environments with three of the four verbal and
graphic metaphors of the Teaching and Learning Perceptions
Questionnaire by Kramarski and Michalsky [8]. The original
Teaching and Learning Perceptions Questionnaire consisted
of four metaphors (indirect way of enhancing SRL) that
teachers had to rate. In this way, four perceptions of teach-
ing and learning were assessed along a continuum from
teacher-centered to student-centered: transmitting informa-
tion (“The learner is like an empty vessel to be filled”),
modeling by the teacher (“The learner is like a tourist on
a guided tour”), and self-construction of knowledge (“The
learner is like an independent mountain climber”). As we
wanted to force teachers to make a choice for the metaphor
that reflects best their perception on teaching and learning,
we decided to use only the three of the metaphors that are
most selective and to let teachers choose the metaphor that
fitted best to them. With the scale of Hermans et al., we
assessed in how far teachers favor a constructivist learning
environment (so indirect way of fostering SRL). We also
wanted to pinpoint whether teachers would prefer a totally
indirect way of promoting SRL by teaching in a way that
fits to the metaphor for self-construction of knowledge
(“The learner is like an independent mountain climber”), or
whether they prefer the direct way that fits to the metaphor
for transmitting information (“The learner is like an empty
vessel to be filled”), or whether they prefer the combination
of both which fits to the metaphor for modeling by the
teacher (“The learner is like a tourist on a guided tour”).
Items to assess teacher beliefs on the instruction of
SRL were adapted from the Self-Regulated Learning Teacher
Belief Scale by Lombaerts et al. [33] covering 15 items (direct
way of enhancing SRL). Examples of items can be found in
Tab l e 1 .
All scales produced acceptable reliabilities: Cronbachs α
was .67 for the subscale of the Beliefs about Primary Edu-
cation Scale, and .75 for the Self-Regulated Learning Teacher
Belief Scale. Therefore, the scales could be included into the
analyses. Coding of the questions with open answer format
was accomplished by two coders. Interrater reliabilities were
found to range above 80%.
2.2.2. Teacher Knowledge. Teachers’ knowledge on the pro-
motion of SRL was assessed partly in a quantitative and
partly in a qualitative way. Eight items were generated to
measure teachers’ knowledge on eective strategy instruction
(direct way of enhancing SRL) that were based on the model
of eective strategy instruction by Pressley et al. [15], for
example, “When instructing strategies, it is important to
explain explicitly how to use a strategy and to mode strategy
use.” The reliability for the items on eective strategy instruc-
tion was α=.77.
In addition to teachers’ knowledge about strategy
instruction, we wanted to capture whether teachers consider
teaching self-regulation strategies at all. Therefore, teacher
knowledge was also assessed in a qualitative way in order not
to influence teachers with the direction of their response, no
answer categories were provided but open-ended questions
were asked like in an interview. First, teachers were asked to
specify the best way to enhance students’ learning behavior
using the open question developed by Lonka et al. [35]:
“What is the best way to enhance the learning behavior of
students, to teach them learning to learn? Why?” “Learning
to learn” was used as term as it also involves the concept
of SRL (e.g., [36,37]) but is more familiar to practitioners
than the term “self-regulated learning”. Second, to cap-
ture teachers’ knowledge (conceptions and misconceptions)
about SRL, teachers were questioned on how they define
the concept “self-regulated learning. Teachers responded in
writing, and all responses were transcribed and coded for
data analysis using a coding scheme that had been developed
to observe teachers’ promotion of SRL in the classroom [6].
Both open-ended questions were analyzed by means of a
coding scheme that built on the model of fostering SRL
Education Research International 5
Tab le 1: Examples of items.
Scale Example item Measured
construct
Way o f
promoting SRL
Teacher beliefs
Beliefs about Primary Education Scale: Hermans et al. [32]
I find it important to use
time to have students
working together (in
groups)
Teacher beliefs
on
constructivist
learning
Indirect
Teaching and Learning Perceptions Questionnaire:
Kramarski and Michalsky [8]
The learner is like an
empty vessel that needs
to be filled
Teacher beliefs
on student-
centered
learning
Indirect
SRLTB Self-Regulated Learning Teacher Belief scale:
Lombaerts et al. [34]
The instruction of
learning strategies leads
to students being better
in evaluating their
learning
Teacher beliefs
on
self-regulated
learning
Direct and indirect
Teacher knowledge
Based on Pressley et al. [15]
When instructing
strategies, it is important
to explain explicitly how
to use a strategy and to
mode strategy use
Teacher
knowledge on
strategy
instruction
Direct
Lonka et al. [35]
What is the best way to
enhance the learning
behavior of students, to
teach them learning to
learn? Why?
Teacher
knowledge on
learning to learn
Direct and indirect
How would you define
“self-regulated
learning”?
Teacher
knowledge on
self-regulated
learning
Direct and indirect
by both—direct strategy instruction and designing a con-
structivist learning environment. The direct instruction of
learning strategies included all aspects of teacher behavior
that serves to address the use of strategies, for example,
teachers explaining the use of a certain strategy, reflecting
with the students on their strategy use, discussing advantages
and disadvantages of strategies, and modeling the use of
a strategy by showing the students how to use it with or
without thinking aloud. Both were coded-explicit discussion
of strategy use, but also more implicit instruction of strategy
use. Collins et al. [17]dierentiate between four dierent
aspects of apprenticeship that can serve to instruct strategies.
Although these are rather indirect ways of instruction,
they take place in a direct interaction between teacher and
student(s): modelling, scaolding, fading, and coaching. In
modelling, the student watches the teacher at using a certain
strategy. The student learns to use the strategy by observing
the teacher using the strategy in terms of modelling. Scaf-
folding means the support that the teacher gives to the stud-
ent in carrying out a task. This can imply that the teacher is
doing parts of the task that the student cannot yet manage,
but can also imply that the teacher just gives occasional hints
to the student on what to do next. In fading, the teacher
slowly removes his or her support and gives more and more
responsibility to the student. Coaching comprises the whole
process of apprenticeship instruction, including the choosing
of tasks, providing students with hints, scaolding, giving
feedback, and structuring the procedures of the learning
process. This way of apprenticeship almost approaches or can
overlap with explicit strategy instruction. With regard to the
design of a learning environment that allows students to self-
regulate their learning, we coded teacher responses according
to four common principles of constructivist learning, which
are the basis of powerful learning environments [38], that
were considered as being strongly related to the promotion
of SRL: activating prior knowledge (relating new knowledge
to already existing knowledge), cooperative learning (social
interaction), learning in context, as well as self-regulated
learning. Knowledge acquisition is defined as a process of
knowledge construction, assuming that the learner builds his
or her knowledge by relating new knowledge to already exist-
ing knowledge[39]. Second, dierent constructivist view-
points also share the idea of the impact of social interaction
during knowledge construction (e.g., [40]). As the level of
communication among students is similar, but diers from
the level of communication of the teacher, social interaction
among the students should foster discussions on the subject
matter that is related to deeper understanding [41]. Third,
6Education Research International
constructivist learning as learning in context should resemble
real-life situations by challenging students with authentic
and meaningful problem structures in terms of complex
problems with interacting elements and allowing multiple
solutions in order to facilitate transfer of knowledge (e.g.,
[42]). Fourth, constructivist learning implies students’ self-
direction of their learning, based on the idea that it is insu-
cient to regulate one’s cognitive activity when participating
in active knowledge construction; but also metacognitive,
aective, and behavioural aspects need to be regulated [11].
Students can benefit from learning environments that allow
them to take over responsibility for their own learning [43].
In relation to that, constructivists agree on the importance of
motivation to learn,aecting if,when and how students learn
[44]. We coded whether teachers mentioned none, one or
both of these two aspects. An example for a teacher response
that was coded as strategy instruction was “Teaching your
students to look at their work critically and to provide them
with opportunities to check whether they did it the right
way”. Constructivist learning environment was coded for this
exemplary teacher response: “Students can decide themselves
in which order they want to work on their tasks and how
much time they need for every task.
2.2.3. Teacher Behavior. Teachers had to explain what they do
in order to enhance their students’ self-regulation of learning
in their classrooms. For the same reasons as mentioned for
teacher knowledge, an open-ended question was asked to
not direct teachers’ answers. Again, this open-ended question
was coded according to the model of fostering SRL directly
through the instruction of learning strategies, as well as
indirectly by creating a constructivist learning environment.
A teacher response that was coded for strategy instruction
was, for example, “I start every lesson by telling my students
what the goal of the lesson will be.” The example response
“My students search for information themselves by asking
each other questions in their group and try to solve prob-
lems together” was coded as promotion of a constructivist
learning environment.
3. Results
3.1. Research Question 1: Teacher Beliefs and Teacher Knowl-
edge on the Promotion of Self-Regulated Learning. With
regard to our first research question, we wanted to know
whether teachers assign more importance to the design
of constructivist learning environments than to strategy
instruction when asked about their beliefs and their knowl-
edge on SRL.
3.1.1. Teacher Beliefs. Te a c h e r s ’ b e l i e f s o n S R L i n p r i m a r y
school turned out to be relatively positive (M=3.65, SD =
.41 on a five-point rating scale). Teachers’ beliefs on con-
structivist learning were found to be very positive as well
(M=4.04, SD =.36 on a five-point rating scale). However,
most of the forty-five teachers who had answered the item on
the metaphors representing views on teaching and learning
were favoring the metaphor for “modeling by the teacher”
(N=29) over “transferring information” (N=8) or˜“self-
construction of knowledge” (N=8); so not the most
student-centered one but a moderate “average”. Spearman
correlations with the scale of these three metaphors and the
scale of teacher beliefs on constructivist learning revealed
that both measures were highly correlated (Rho =.42∗∗,P<
.004). The more teachers agreed with constructivist views on
teaching and learning, the more student-centered was the
metaphor they chose for. A univariate analysis of variance
was conducted to check for dierences between the teachers
who are favoring the three dierent metaphors. It turned
out that teacher beliefs dier significantly between the three
groups of teachers for both beliefs on SRL (F(2, 42) =7.54,
P<.01) as well as on constructivist learning (F(2, 42) =
4.88, P<.05). Post hoc analyses using the Sche´
eposthoc
criterion for significance indicated that the scale mean for
teacher beliefs on SRL is significantly lower for teachers who
chose the metaphors representing transmitting information
(M=3.58, SD =.35) and modeling by the teacher (M=3.54,
SD =.36) than for teachers who chose the metaphor rep-
resenting self-construction of knowledge (M=4.09, SD =
.38), P<.05. Concerning teacher beliefs on constructivist
learning, the Sche´
e test revealed significantly a higher-scale
mean for teachers who had chosen for the metaphor “self-
construction of knowledge” (M=4.33, SD =.25) than for
the metaphor “transmitting information” (M=3.54, SD =
.36), P<.05. As a paired samples t-test revealed, teachers
scored significantly higher on constructivist learning than on
SRL (t(46) =7.38, P<.01).
3.1.2. Teacher Knowledge. Pertaining to the instruction of
strategies, teachers were very much in line with the charac-
teristics of good strategy instruction proposed by Pressley
and colleagues [15] which were assessed by means of the
according items (M=4.21, SD =.39 on a five-point rating
scale). Concerning the questions on teachers’ knowledge on
the promotion of SRL that required open answers, responses
were coded according to the options (a) direct strategy
instruction, (b) indirectly fostering students’ self-regulation
through constructivist learning environments, or (c) direct
and indirect strategy instruction. To the question “How
would you define self-regulated learning”, the responses of
the forty teachers who had answered this question were
coded into two categories: characteristics of learning that
focused on student autonomy versus focus on learning stra-
tegy instruction. None of the forty teachers who had replied
to the open-ended questions, had referred to both aspects,
31 teachers had described aspects of student autonomy
(e.g., “students can choose themselves when they work on
a task”, or “students can learn according to their own speed
and rhythm”), while nine teachers had emphasized aspects
of strategy instruction (e.g., “students learn to know their
strong points and how to use them, or “find strategies to
improve learning”). With regard to the question “What is
the best way to enhance the learning behavior of students,
to teach them learning to learn? Why?”, only two teachers
did not give any answer. Again, the majority of 32 teachers
stressed aspects of constructivist learning environments
Education Research International 7
(e.g., cooperative learning, situated learning, student auton-
omy), but thirteen teachers responded with characteristics
of strategy instruction (e.g., learning to plan one’s learning
process, reflecting together on how to learn, etc.) as well as
constructivist learning environments. No teacher focused on
the instruction of strategies only.
3.1.3. Teacher Behavior. When asked whether and how
teachers incorporate aspects to foster SRL into their teaching,
onlyseventeachersrespondednottodosoatall.Twenty-six
of the thirty-eight teachers, who had answered that they pro-
moted SRL, mentioned only characteristics to foster student
autonomy (e.g., discovery learning, cooperative learning,
student autonomy, etc.), while five teachers also reported to
instruct learning strategies as well (e.g., “I’m teaching my
students how to plan their learning”). Descriptives can be
found in Tab l e 2 .
3.2. Research Question 2: Predicting Teacher Behavior with
Teacher Beliefs and Teacher Knowledge. Ordered logistic reg-
ressions were computed to analyze the predictive impact of
teacher beliefs concerning constructivist learning environ-
ments, teacher beliefs concerning SRL, as well as teachers’
knowledge concerning fostering SRL on their self-reported
promotion of SRL in their classrooms. We chose ordered
logistic regressions [45] since our dependent variable was
coded according to three answering categories that repro-
duce ordered levels (no promotion of self-regulated learn-
ing/providing students with a constructivist learning envi-
ronment only/additionally instructing learning strategies).
According to our second research question, we wanted to
investigate the predictive value of teacher beliefs and teacher
knowledge to teacher behavior. As Tabl e 3 shows, the analyses
revealed that when controlling for all teacher beliefs and
teacher knowledge variables only teachers’ beliefs on SRL
predicted teacher behavior (B=2.52, P<.05). Teacher beliefs
on constructivist learning and their perception of student
versus teacher-centered teaching and learning did not predict
teacher behavior significantly, neither did teachers’ knowl-
edge.
4. Discussion
4.1. Summary. In this study we investigated teacher beliefs
and teacher knowledge on how to foster SRL and tested
whether they predict teachers’ promotion of SRL in their
classrooms. As the results to the first research question
show, teachers are more positive towards constructivist than
towards SRL. This is in line with observation research on
teachers’ promotion of SRL, revealing teachers to mainly
provide students with autonomy, but not to teach them
learning strategies that help to deal with this autonomy (e.g.,
[3,6]).
When being asked how they would define self-regulated
learning in order to assess teacher knowledge, most teachers
mentioned characteristics of constructivist learning environ-
ments, while only few teachers addressed strategy instruc-
tion. No teacher reported to integrate both aspects of foster-
ing SRL. Upon the second question to assess teacher knowl-
edge (What is the best way to enhance the learning behavior
of students, to teach them learning to learn?), again most
teachers named characteristics of constructivist learning
environments. However, thirteen teacher answers included
both aspects the learning environment as well as strategy
instruction. No teacher mentioned strategy instruction only.
The results indicate that primary school teachers have already
incorporated the idea of designing constructivist learning
environments to foster students’ self-regulation into their
teaching conceptions. This result is in line with the result
that arises from the analyses of teacher beliefs. Most teachers
have a positive attitude towards constructivist as well as
(slightly less positive) towards SRL at primary school, and
most teachers associate SRL with student autonomy through
constructivist learning environments. These results are not
surprising, considering the results of classroom observation
studies on the promotion of SRL that have produced a simi-
lar picture. Teachers do create learning environments that
allow students to self-regulate; however, they do not provide
students with the necessary learning strategies [3,6]. Yet,
teachers dierentiate between SRL and learning to learn,
assigning more importance of the learning environment to
the term “self-regulated learning”, but integrating the aspect
of strategy instruction into their definition when being asked
for “learning to learn”. Teachers refer more to the part of
explicit strategy instruction when they think of “learning to
learn”, and they refer more to the indirect way of fostering
SRL when they think of the term “self-regulated learn-
ing”. Both concepts—self-regulated learning and learning to
learn—seem to be rather independent concepts for most of
the teachers. This is in line with a result that Waeytens et al.
[46] found when interviewing teachers about their defini-
tion of “learning to learn”. The concept is rather vague and
unclear for many teachers.
When looking at teacher beliefs and teacher knowledge,
it becomes clear that teachers have positive beliefs towards
SRL, but they do not dispose of a broad knowledge on how
to foster it. Most teachers do not cover both aspects of fos-
tering their students’ self-regulation. The same result occurs
when looking at teachers’ behavior. With regard to our
first research question, we can conclude that both can be
confirmed: The results of teacher beliefs and knowledge
reflect earlier results on teacher behavior observed in their
classrooms. However, the majority of teachers chose a meta-
phor representing the modeling of the teacher to reflect
their perception of teaching and learning and not the most
student-centered metaphor representing self-construction of
knowledge. Thus, these teachers do acknowledge their task of
modeling which plays an important role in strategy instruc-
tion (see [17]).
Concerning the predictive value of teacher beliefs, it
turned out that only teacher beliefs on SRL predicted teachers
fostering SRL in their classrooms, but not their beliefs on
constructivist learning environments. Those teachers, who
do integrate both aspects of the promotion of SRL into
8Education Research International
Tab le 2: Descriptives.
Scale Reliability Mean (SD) Min Max
Hermans et al. [32]. Beliefs about Primary Education Scale α=.67 4.04 (.36) 3.30 4.70
Lombaerts et al. [34]. SRLTB Self-Regulated Learning Teacher Belief Scale α=.75 3.65 (.41) 2.75 4.88
Teacher Knowledge about Strategy Instruction: based on Pressley et al. [15]α=.77 4.21 (.39) 3.38 5.00
Tab le 3: Multiple-ordered logistic regression to predict teacher behavior.
Teacher behavior BSE Pe
b
Teacher knowledge-1 .73 .85 .39 .48
Teacher knowledge-2 1.30 .91 .16 3.66
Teacher beliefs on SRL 2.52 1.15 .03 12.45
Teacher beliefs on constructivism .94 1.38 .50 .39
Teacher beliefs on student versus teacher centeredness .13 .66 .85 1.13
their teaching, have particularly positive views on the con-
cept. With regard to teacher knowledge, we found that
teachers who covered both aspects in their answers also more
frequently reported to integrate both aspects into their
teaching. However, as the regressions showed, only teachers
beliefs on SRL predicted teacher behavior when including all
variables into the analyses. This finding is consistent with
Lombaerts et al. [34] who also found only teachers’ beliefs
on SRL to predict teachers’ recognition of self-regulation
practices.
An interesting point that requires further investigation is
the inconsistency between teacher beliefs and teacher prac-
tice. Although teachers consider SRL as important, most of
them do not integrate strategy instruction into their teach-
ing. As teachers’ beliefs seem so positive, there might be mis-
conceptions among teachers about providing students with
the tools to manage autonomy eectively. A limited or
improper theoretical understanding of teachers could lead to
frustration among students as well as among teachers about
SRL (see [47]).
4.2. Limitations. The presented study is subject to some limi-
tations. The small sample size does not allow generalization
to primary school teachers at large. Teachers who were
willing to participate were probably already motivated and
interested in the topic. Thus, the general picture on teachers’
beliefs on self-regulated and constructivist learning might
be less positive and less promising. However, the results
on teachers’ knowledge—assuming that the teachers of
this sample were more motivated and interested than the
average teacher—allow the assumption that the knowledge
of primary school teachers in general might be even more
limited with regard to direct and indirect promotion of SRL.
A second limitation is the assessment of teachers’ beliefs,
knowledge, and behavior by means of self-report. Teachers
might want to produce a more positive picture so that their
self-report could be subject to social desirability. Classroom
observations could serve to get a more representative picture
of teachers’ behavior with regard to fostering students’ self-
regulation. Finally, a general diculty in assessing teacher
beliefs and knowledge is that both are hard to assess
separately from each other, since the two constructs are hard
to disentangle also from a theoretical perspective. Moreover,
we have tried to cope with the risk of teachers answering in
a socially desirable way by asking them open questions to
assess their knowledge on fostering SRL. This goes along with
the general disadvantage of open questions, that they cannot
provide ratings.
4.3. Implications. The results of this study can give an indi-
cation to the causes why teachers do not instruct SRL more
often, and where researchers and teacher educators would
have to start in order to enable teachers to promote SRL
eectively. When looking at teachers’ conceptions of the
enhancement of self-regulation among their students, it
becomes clear that the area of direct strategy instruction has
somehow got lost in teachers’ minds (or has never existed)
next to the constructivist idea of leaving students the auto-
nomy to regulate their learning on their own. The results
illustrate the need for informing teachers through teacher
training. Concerning primary school teachers, the problem
lies not in teachers’ attitude but rather a lack of knowledge on
how to support students’ self-regulation eectively. However,
teacher beliefs play the crucial role when predicting teachers’
promotion of SRL in their classrooms. Helping teachers
todevelopaneective way of integrating SRL into their
teaching would have to start by creating awareness of both
ways to foster self-regulation. Moreover, the study has shown
that teachers already dispose of positive attitudes towards the
idea of providing students with autonomy. The question is
whether the positive picture that has appeared in this study
really constitutes the base that teacher educators would have
to start from, or whether it reflects teachers’ ideas on how
they should think. When trying to change teachers’ beliefs
on enhancing SRL, there might be more variables aecting
teacher behavior than just their conceptions on promoting
Education Research International 9
it. One could think, for example, of teachers’ self-ecacy.
Teachers might appreciate the idea of SRL, but if they do not
feel capable of managing more student autonomy, they won’t
integrate it into their teaching, no matter their positive
beliefs. As Kramarski and Revach [47] concluded, based on
the teacher training that they had conducted to help teachers’
integrating SRL in their classrooms, teachers’ self-ecacy
might be related to teachers’ professional development and
might cause teachers not implementing what they have
learned during training. Future research should account for
teachers’ perceived behavioral control when further inves-
tigating the association between teacher beliefs and teacher
behavior with regard to fostering self-regulation.
Furthermore, with regard to teacher training, one should
keep in mind that teacher beliefs also influence the percep-
tion of new information [9,20]. Therefore, it is crucial to
be aware of teachers’ conceptions and misconceptions and
to take them into account when developing trainings. More-
over, training should take place as early as possible for
two reasons. First, preservice teachers in the beginning of
their career start using traditional teaching methods that
they know from their own schooling experience (see [24]).
Second, teachers at some point develop their own (poten-
tially incorrect) beliefs on the promotion of self-regulation
based on their teaching experience. These beliefs then start
influencing their perceptions of new information. It is
important to change teacher beliefs before this happens.
Acknowledgments
The authors are grateful to Ruben Hermans, Bracha Kra-
marski, and Koen Lombaerts for providing them with
their assessment instruments. Moreover, they appreciate the
advice of Marjolein Deunk, Annemieke Jacobsen, Anouk
Bergstra, and Mechteld van Kuijk on item formulations of
the Dutch questionnaire. Thanks to Reyn van Ewijk for his
statistical advice. Finally, they wish to thank Wendel Verbree
for helping with the data collection.
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... S druge strane, dio studija ukazuje na stagnaciju ili čak pad u periodu rane i kasne adolescencije (Brković i sur., 2012;Nikčević-Milković i Tatalović Vorkapić, 2020;Raffaelli i sur., 2005;Šimić Šašić, 2012). Većina učitelja suglasna je s time da se učenicima treba pomoći da njihovo učenje postane samoregulirano, međutim, osjećaju se nesigurno u vezi s time kako to napraviti (Dignath-van Ewijk i van der Werf, 2012). Boekaerts (2002) smatra da u procesu promjene tradicionalnih uloga učitelja i učenika u razredu ključnu ulogu igra razumijevanje dinamike SRU-a i dinamike kreiranja okruženja za učenje koje će poticati SRU. ...
... Dio istraživanja bio je usmjeren na proučavanje intervencija u razredu koje mogu potaknuti SRU. Zaključci proizašli iz tih istraživanja ukazuju na to da učitelji mogu utjecati na SRU na različite, direktne i indirektne načine: poučavanjem učenika učinkovitim strategijama učenja (kognitivnim i metakognitivnim: planiranje, nadgledanje napretka i razumijevanja, vrednovanje, modifikacija učeničkih uvjerenja, ciljeva, suočavanje s negativnim emocijama itd.) ili strukturiranjem okruženja učenja da bi učenici imali prilike sami otkriti učinkovite strategije učenja (kroz tipove zadataka, autoriteta, nagrađivanja, metoda grupiranja, vrednovanja, modifikacijom međuljudskih odnosa itd.) (Boekaerts i Corno, 2005;Dignath i Buettner, 2008;Dignath-van Ewijk i van der Werf, 2012;Montalvo i Torres, 2004;Paris i Winograd, 2001;Zumbrunn i sur., 2011). Socijalno-kognitivna perspektiva u poticanju SRU-a naglašava važnost modeliranja, prilika za vođeno uvježbavanje i povratnih informacija u nastavi. ...
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... Teachers' support and their teaching methods is an important factor affecting students' acquisition of self-regulated skills. It is influenced by a number of factors, including: their knowledge about SRL, beliefs, self-efficacy, years of experiences, gender, and subject area of specialization (De Smul, et al., 2018;Ewijk & Büttner, 2018;Ewijk & Werf, 2012;Lawson et al., 2018;Soliman & Alenazi, 2017;Yan, 2017). ...
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... • perceive SRL to be desirable for their students (Dignath-van Ewijk & Van der Werf, 2012;Lombaerts et al., 2009), but not feasible to implement in their classrooms (De Smul et al., 2018). • often hold misconceptions about which students benefit from SRL (Peeters et al., 2016;Zohar & Barzilai, 2015) and to what extent SRL scaffolding is needed for promoting lower vs. higher cognitive levels (Mevarech & Fan, 2018). ...
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