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REL Central Ask A REL Response

College and Career Readiness

August 2017


What does the research say about improving self-regulation skills in K–12 students?


Following an established REL Central research protocol, we conducted a search for research reports as well as descriptive study articles to help answer the question. The resources included ERIC and other federally funded databases and organizations, research institutions, academic databases, and general Internet search engines. (For details, please see the methods section at the end of this memo.)

We have not evaluated the quality of references and the resources provided in this response, and we offer them only for your reference. Also, we compiled the references from the most commonly used resources of research, but they are not comprehensive and other relevant references and resources may exist.

Research References

Arguedas, M., Daradoumis, T., & Xhafa, F. (2016). Analyzing how emotion awareness influences students’ motivation, engagement, self-regulation and learning outcomes. Educational Technology & Society, 19(2), 87–103. Retrieved from
Full text available

From the abstract:

“Considering social and emotional competence in learning, emotion awareness aims to detect the emotions that students show during their learning interactions and make these emotions explicit to them. Being aware of their emotions, students become more conscious of their situation, what may prompt them to behavioral change. The main goal of this work is to analyze the effects of emotion awareness, supported by specific teaching strategies, on students’ motivation, engagement, self-regulation and learning outcome in long-term blended collaborative learning practices. A bilateral goal also involves an initial study that explores the way emotion awareness affects teacher’s attitude and feedback as well as the competencies that teachers need to have in order to achieve a positive change on students’ affective and cognitive state. To this end a quasi-experimental study was designed with high school students. The results of this study show that when students are aware of their emotions and guided by specific teaching strategies, their learning performance improves in relation to their motivation, engagement and self-regulation. Likewise, when teachers are conscious of students’ emotional state their attitude and feedback become more effective and timely.”

Cleary, T. J., & Chen, P. P. (2009). Self-regulation, motivation, and math achievement in middle school: Variations across grade level and math context. Journal of School Psychology, 47, 291–314. Retrieved from
Full text available

From the abstract:

“The current study examined grade level, achievement group, and math-course-type differences in student self-regulation and motivation in a sample of 880 suburban middle-school students. Analysis of variance was utilized to assess group differences in student self-regulation and motivation, and linear regression analysis was used to identify variables that best predicted students’ use of regulatory strategies. A key finding was that although seventh graders exhibited a more maladaptive self-regulation and motivation profile than sixth graders, achievement groups in seventh grade (high, moderate, low) were more clearly differentiated across both self-regulation and motivation than achievement groups in sixth grade. The pattern of achievement group differences also varied across math course type, as self-regulation and motivation processes more consistently differentiated achievement groups in advanced classes than regular math courses. Finally, task interest was shown to be the primary motivational predictor of students’ use of regulatory strategies during math learning. The study highlights the importance of identifying shifting student motivation and self-regulation during the early middle school years and the potential role that context may have on these processes.”

Cleary, T. J., Platten, P., & Nelson, A. (2008). Effectiveness of the self-regulation empowerment program with urban high school students. Journal of Advanced Academics, 20(1), 70–107. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“Impacting the academic performance of high school students in core academic content areas is important because of the high-stakes nature of secondary school course grades relative to their vocational and post-secondary pursuits. Getting students to become more active, strategic participants in their learning by teaching them empirically supported learning strategies as well as specific forethought and reflective thinking skills is an important pathway to academic success. The importance of self-regulation processes also has been established in recent survey research with teachers and school psychologists showing that students who are referred for academic problems often have self-regulatory skill and motivation deficits. Intervention programs like the Self-Regulation Empowerment Program (SREP) can be conceptualized and implemented within the context of school-based service delivery frameworks. Tier I interventions typically occur at a classroom level and thus are designed to provide all students with the potential benefits of an intervention. With regards to classroom-wide self-regulation interventions, there are many empirically supported techniques that teachers can readily infuse into the daily routine of a school day, such as requiring all students to set performance goals, engage in progress monitoring, and utilize self-reflective processes. Students who do not respond (i.e., continue to exhibit poor test performance) to this general level of intervention support would be eligible to receive more intensive, Tier II pull-out programs, such as SREP.”

Cleary, T. J., & Zimmerman, B. J. (2004). Self-regulation empowerment program: A school-based program to enhance self-regulated and self-motivated cycles of student learning. Psychology in the Schools, 41(5), 537–550. Retrieved from
Full text available

From the abstract:

“This article describes a training program, Self-Regulation Empowerment Program (SREP), that school professionals can use to empower adolescent students to engage in more positive, selfmotivating cycles of learning. It is a two-part approach whereby self-regulated learning coaches (SRC) (a) use microanalytic assessment procedures to assess students’ self-regulation beliefs and study strategies and (b) train students to use these strategies in a cyclical, self-regulation feedback loop. Ultimately, students learn how to set goals, select and monitor strategy effectiveness, make strategic attributions, and adjust their goals and strategies. The program was developed from social-cognitive theory and research and integrates many of the essential features of the problem-solving model. Interventions used in the SREP include graphing, cognitive modeling, cognitive coaching, and structured practice sessions. A case study is presented to illustrate procedures for implementing the program. Implications for school psychologists and teachers also are presented and discussed.”

Meusen-Beekman, K. D., Brinke, D. J.-t., & Boshuizen, H. P. A. (2015). Developing young adolescents’ self-regulation by means of formative assessment: A theoretical perspective. Cogent Education, 2. Retrieved from
Full text available

From the abstract:

“Fostering self-regulated learning (SRL) has become increasingly important at various educational levels. Most studies on SRL have been conducted in higher education. The present literature study aims toward understanding self-regulation processes of students in primary and secondary education. We explored the development of young students’ self-regulation from a theoretical perspective. In addition, effective characteristics for an intervention to develop young students’ self-regulation were examined, as well as the possibilities of implementing formative assessments in primary education to develop self-regulation. The results show that SRL can be supported in both primary and secondary education. However, at both school levels, differences were found, regarding the theoretical background of the training and the type of instructed strategy. Studies so far suggest avenues toward formative assessment, which seems to be a unifying theory of instruction that improves the learning process by developing self-regulation among students. But gaps in knowledge about the impact of formative assessments on the development of SRL strategies among primary school students require further exploration.”

Murray, D. W. & Rosanbalm, K. (2017). Promoting self-regulation in adolescents and young adults: A practice brief (OPRE Report #2015-82). Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“This brief reviews the importance of self-regulation for adolescents and young adults and provides guidelines for supporting self-regulation development for 14 to 25-year-olds. It is written by Desiree W. Murray and Katie Rosanbalm based on work conducted by a team at the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), and specifically addresses prevention programs and targeted interventions which could be implemented within ACF programs.”

Pintrich, P. R. (1999). The role of motivation in promoting and sustaining self-regulated learning. International Journal of Educational Research, 31, 459–470. Retrieved from

From the abstract:

“A general framework is presented to help understand the relationship between motivation and self-regulated learning. According to the framework, self-regulated learning can be facilitated by the adoption of mastery and relative ability goals and hindered by the adoption of extrinsic goals. In addition, positive self-efficacy and task value beliefs can promote selfregulated behavior. Self-regulated learning is defined as the strategies that students use to regulate their cognition (i.e., use of various cognitive and metacognitive strategies) as well as the use of resource management strategies that students use to control their learning.”

Stoeger, H., Fleischmann, S., & Obergriesser, S. (2015). Self-regulated learning (SRL) and the gifted learner in primary school: The theoretical basis and empirical findings on a research program dedicated to ensuring that all students learn to regulate their own learning. Asia Pacific Education Review, 16(2), 257–267. Retrieved from
Full text available

From the abstract:

“After defining self-regulated learning (SRL), explaining its importance for all ability groups, and summarizing findings on gifted learners’ scarcer use of and lower preference for SRL, we describe two instructional modules designed for teaching SRL during regular classroom instruction and homework. We then explain how the modules are theoretically grounded in Zimmerman’s (Contemp Educ Psychol 16:307–313, 1986; Handbook of self-regulation. Academic Press, San Diego, 2000) social-cognitive-theory-based SRL framework and designed according to a seven-step normative model of SRL (Ziegler and Stoeger in Accompanying manual for a training of self-regulated learning I: resource strategies for fourth-grade elementary school students to improve math skills. Pabst, Lengerich, 2005) and report empirical findings from seven studies–together involving 2019 participants–on the modules’ general and differential effectiveness for in-class primary school SRL interventions. We conclude with remarks on the implications of the modules for primary school gifted education.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Self-regulation and middle school, self-regulation intervention, education self-regulation programs

Databases and Resources

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the Publication: References and resources published between 1999 and 2017 were included in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority was given to ERIC, followed by Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: The following methodological priorities/considerations were used in the review and selection of the references: (a) currency of available data; (b) study types–randomized control trials, quasi experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, etc.; (c) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected samples, etc.), study duration, and so forth.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Central Region (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory Central at Marzano Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Central under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0005, administered by Marzano Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.