An Interview with Dr. Dale – P2

4. Mentoring is a relatively new area of research in education. Do you think the four developmental levels (observation, emulation, self- control, and self-regulation) can be used to describe the mentoring relationship? Do you see classroom teachers as mentors of students? What research is needed in this area?

I think the four levels can be used to describe part of the mentoring relationship, but perhaps not all of it. The reason for that is that mentor- ing theory distinguishes between two broad functions of mentoring: career or task functions and psychosocial functions. In the career or task functions the application of the four levels can fit well. They are not the only way to explain the mentoring relationship, but they certainly provide mentors with a way to teach their mentees to be more self-regulated in the career aspects of their jobs; for example, teaching them procedures, networking, strategies for conducting their jobs, etc.

As far as the psychosocial functions are concerned, the four levels might be appropriate, but we need research on that because this area has not been well explored. I think the reason for that is because the psychosocial functions are not easy to clarify. They depend heavily on the relationship between the mentor and mentee; a mentor may address personnel conflicts, provide counseling, and help work through emotional issues. In education, teachers may engage in both functions because students may go to teachers to talk about things that are related to career advancement such as advice about graduate programs or job offers, or about social or personal issues not related to school such as how to cope with pressure from parents or peers. We clearly need research on mentoring in educational relationships.

5. What do you see as new dimensions of self-regulated learning yet to be explored? 

I will suggest three areas where more research is needed:

1 – More research on the self-regulation of non-cognitive variables is needed. Research is increasing on the self-regulation of motivation, which is good because motivation includes cognitive and non-cognitive processes such as affect. We need to clarify how learners engage in self-regulation of their affect and emotions while they are engaged in learning.

2 – We need more research on the development of self-regulation. There is little research investigating how children develop self-regulatory skills and how these change with development. There is research on behavior control with young children, but this research tends not to address the cognitive and affective processes associated with self-regulated learning.

3 – We also need more research on the cultural influences on self-regulated learning. A good question to explore is how well do the principles of self-regulated learning fit with various cultural norms and beliefs. For example, learners in some cultures may be more self-reflective than others. What does that mean for self-regulation theories? The question really is to what extent are theories of self-regulated learning generalizable. The evidence to date suggests that self-regulated learning processes are generalizable but that theories may need some modifications.

6. What advice do you have for:

– educators interested in using self-regulation in their classrooms

Teachers should incorporate self-regulated learning processes into instruction and not teach it as an add-on or separate activity. In other words, teach students to apply self-regulated learning processes while they are engaged in learning. This takes time, so patience is needed.

Self-regulated learning can be taught even where there are pressures for accountability. For example, test-taking strategies can be taught, such as time management and question answering strategies. These strategies can help students perform better on tests and build self- efficacy along the way. Many teachers already do this.

– students learning about self-regulation

Learners can adopt certain strategies and apply them on their own, such as when they are doing homework. Prior to beginning homework they might ask themselves: What do I have to do? Where will I do it? When will I do it? With whom will I work? Then while engaging in the homework, students may monitor their progress and ask themselves such questions as: How well am I completing this homework? Are the place and the people I’m working with helping me get it done? Does this homework help me understand the material better and more pre- pared for class?

– scholars pursuing research on self-regulated learning

Scholars should read the literature, such as books on self-regulated learning and journals that publish self-regulated learning research (e.g., Journal of Educational Psychology, Educational Psychology Review, Metacognition and Learning, Learning and Individual Differences). Scholars should attend conferences and go to sessions that are about self-regulated learning. Naturally I would recommend  joining the Studying and Self-Regulated Learning SIG and attending the sessions! These activities provide opportunities to associate with others who have similar interests and to interact with the many good models and mentors in our field. The people you meet could end up being collaborators on research projects. Barry Zimmerman and I met at a conference. While we’ve never conducted research together, we have a history rich in collaboration resulting in the theoretical development of self-regulated learning.