Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Academic self-regulation

Academic self-regulation
What is academic self-regulation, why does it matter, and how can it be fostered?


Academic self-regulation is an important predictor of academic achievement, self-efficacy and healthier well-being and is characterised by deep emotional and motivational engagement during learning. While there is a continuous growth in the number of students entering higher academic education, such as universities; [grammar?] educators and administrators are challenged with a greater focus on identifying academic achievement and avoiding student attrition.

Academic self-regulation is self-regulated learning, which is described as the motivational and emotional processes that allow individuals to activate and sustain cognitions, actions, and emotions systematically towards the achievement of their own learning goals.

This book chapter examines academic self-regulation, including its relationship with motivational aspects and how students may foster academic self-regulation to influence educational outcomes further. Additionally, models of academic self-regulation are examined along with a case study that depicts a real-world example of how individuals may adopt academic self-regulation using different strategies and models to achieve optimal academic outcomes.

Key questions
  • What are the models of academic self-regulation?
  • How do individuals adopt and apply academic self-regulation?
  • How do the strategies in academic self-regulation apply to other aspects of life?

Academic self-regulationEdit

Academic self-regulation is an essential perspective on academic learning in the field of Educational Psychology because it enables individuals to be aware of specific techniques for controlling and regulating learning, such as motivation. Several factors influence students' academic experiences, with motivation emerging as a key predictor of optimal performance and well-being[factual?]. As such, students' motivation and intention to academically self-regulate can be divided into two categories: autonomous motivation (e.g., students engaging in academic activity out of curiosity, pleasure, or satisfaction) and controlled motivation (e.g., students engaging in academic activity to gain an internal/external reward). Furthermore, academic self-regulation is a multidimensional construct which makes it difficult to have a clear-cut definition (Pintrich, 2000). However, a general working definition may describe self-regulated learning as an active, constructive process whereby students set academic goals and then attempt to monitor, regulate and control their motivations, behaviours, environments and cognitions to achieve them.


Figure 1. Motivational behaviours

Motivation is the primary notion behind why people behave in given situations. Students with high academic success are motivated and persistent in their pursuit of intrinsic and extrinsic goals (Gutman & Schoon, 2013). Furthermore, students who appear to be driven to enhance their academic performance have a greater accomplishment status than students with a low motivational threshold (Friedman & Mandel, 2012).

Academic motivation is a student's willingness or desire to be involved and dedicate effort to finish learning tasks to a degree of personal satisfaction (Wolters, 1998). Thus, the self-regulation idea of academic motivation may be defined as an endeavour to manage several motivational beliefs (goal orientation, self-efficacy, and personal interest), to ultimately enhance motivation (Wolters, 1998). According to Wolters (1998), students consciously attempt to elicit extrinsic incentives, such as excellent marks, to retain their motivation. Students, on the other hand, might improve their intrinsic motivation for an academic activity by making it more personal (Wolters, 1998).

Intrinsic MotivationEdit

Academic self-regulation postulates three key psychological demands that must be addressed within an academic setting to allow intrinsic motivation: autonomy (i.e., making personal decisions based on values and needs), competence (i.e., the capacity to do a task), and relatedness (i.e., needs for connectedness with others). Thus, meeting students' three fundamental requirements results in a high degree of satisfaction and the persistence of positive motivation.[factual?]

Extrinsic MotivationEdit

Extrinsic motivation arises from outside factors in our surroundings and environment. Extrinsically motivated students, in particular, are motivated to study or complete tasks and activities not by personal interest or desire for advancement, but by a desire to please others. Extrinsic motivation may play a significant role in academic self-regulation, by intensifying an individual's drive for fulfilment as a result of meeting expectations from members of a group (i.e., parents, academics, or peers).[factual?]


Case Study:

John is in the third year of his undergraduate university degree. He is studying for a Bachelor of Psychology and is passionate about continuing his studies by applying to the Honours course next year. He is feeling very overwhelmed as he is unsure whether his current grades will grant him the opportunity to reach the GPA grade threshold. However, John is motivated to get good grades for the rest of the semester so he can apply.

For John to achieve academic self-regulation, he must first identify and define his academic goals for each unit and assignment. For example, what he wants to achieve, what is good enough for him, and what will he need to do to accomplish it. Secondly, John is aware that there are core units that are specifically graded to account for the Honours GPA. Therefore, John will need to specify what motivations for each of the units will get him to achieve his goals (intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation). This will allow John to understand what drives his passion and motivation to get the result. Lastly, John needs to plan his time and prioritise his non-academic commitments to achieve his goals (self-regulate). This will allow him to dedicate the appropriate energy and effort to his academic goals.

As a result, John has demonstrated academic self-regulation by being aware of what motivates him to accomplish his goals and by controlling his learning environment. Regulating his actions and behaviours towards achieving his goal of better grades, enables him to reach his full potential as a student and as an individual.

Adopting strategiesEdit

[Provide more detail]

Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsEdit

Motivational theories are studies that adopt an understanding of what drives individuals to work towards goals and outcomes which are relevant in all of society and within different areas of life. As such, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943) is one of many motivational theories that highlights a humanistic perspective of striving to reach one's full potential. The theory itself is presented as a pyramid sectioned into five categories following a bottom-up approach. Thus, the bottom categories are the most fundamental basic human needs which transition to the higher order of needs that are less fundamental, but still important for motivation. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943) expresses that the appearance of one need may rely on the prior satisfaction of a more basic need within the pyramid. As a result, upon satisfaction of all lower-order needs, individuals may have the potential to reach self-actualisation.

Figure 2. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1943) can assist an individual's academic self-regulation as humans are seen as being motivated by goal accomplishment. In relation to achieving short or long-term educational goals, it is important to understand that reaching self-actualisation can promote positive academic self-regulation. As the Hierarchy of Needs is used to investigate how individuals naturally engage in behavioural motivation and outline the overall development of human wants and motives; academic self-regulation significantly co-exists with the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and how meeting individual needs comprises a specific amount of internal sensation that must be satisfied for a person to reach their full potential.

Zimmerman's Cyclic ModelEdit

One of the most complete models of self-regulated learning is presented and analysed by Zimmerman (1990). The model is based on Social Cognitive Theory and is divided into three stages: Forethought, Performance and Self-reflection. To identify Zimmerman's framework's value in theory and practice, it is compared to other self-regulated learning frameworks.

Forethought phase

This is the initial phase in which students approach academic tasks and analyse them, assess their capacity to perform with success and lastly, develop goals around how to complete them. Task interest and goal motivation is a fundamental role to achieve performing the task appropriately (Panadero & Alonso-Tapia, 2014).

For example, students consider two fundamental variables when developing goals: the assessment criteria and the performance level they want to achieve (Winne & Hadwin, 1998). The assessment criteria are the standard against which the performance will be assessed. This may be difficult as a student may not be faced with the criteria at the beginning of the assessment, thus, may find it difficult to establish appropriate goals for the task. The second factor that influences goal setting is the desired level of performance, which includes a student's interest level in the task, specific motivations to complete the task at a high level and the level of desire during the feedback stage.

Performance phase

In the performance phase, students must maintain concentration so their motivation firstly does not decrease and secondly keep track of their progress towards their goals. This can be achieved by self-observation (students have a clear understanding of what they are doing) and self-control (maintaining concentration and interest during the performance).

Self-reflection phase

Lastly, during this phase, individuals may judge their work/goal outcomes and formulate reasons for their results. Depending on their attributional style, people experience positive or negative emotions while rationalising their achievements or losses. These feelings will have an impact on their motivation and regulation in the future.

Boekaerts' Three-layered ModelEdit

Academic self-regulation has emerged significantly as an important construct in education (Boekaerts,1999). A three-layer model has been presented under Boaekaerts' theory, which displays (1) research on learning styles, (2) research on metacognition and regulation styles and (3) theories of the self[Provide more detail]. Within the Three-layered Model, Boekaerts has illustrated that individuals appear capable of pursuing multiple academic goals simultaneously, which fundamentally increases the ability to self-regulate. According to Boekaerts (1997), self-regulated learning involves cognitive, metacognitive, motivational, and behavioural processes that interact in a cyclic manner in which students benefit from feedback mechanisms to alter their learning.

On the other hand, consciousness, according to cognitive processing theories such as Atkinson and Shiffrin's (1968) structural component model, is restricted to a small number of tasks at a time. Given the complexities of learning self-regulation, one would wonder how self-regulated learners can consciously participate in all of the many cognitive, metacognitive, motivational, and behavioural regulation processes. Thus, intervention studies may suggest that training improves self-regulation in learners, particularly when training happens over a long period of time and learners practise repetition and control of learning techniques[factual?].

[for example?]

Winne's Phase ModelEdit

Winne and Hadwin's model has a strong metacognitive perspective, recognising self-regulated students as active and managing their own learning through monitoring and the use of metacognitive strategies, while asserting the goal-driven nature of academic self-regulation and the effects of self-regulatory actions on motivation. According to research in the field of motivation, students who are metacognitively aware of their choices and strategies to sustain learning objectives may pick particular circumstances to invest the required time and effort to govern their learning[factual?]. Winne and Hadwin's (1998) four-phase model highlights the particular cognitive processes that comprise a learner's self-regulation through task definition, goal setting and planning, learning techniques, and metacognitive processes used to adjust learning both within the task and more broadly. Furthermore, Winne and Hadwin's (1998) approach can better illustrate how changes in one stage might lead to changes in other stages of learning which enable the model to precisely explain academic self-regulation. Lastly, one noticeable element is that there is no mention of emotions in the model figure, merely an allusion to motivation. [for example?]

Figure 3. Theoretical perspectives that shape and regulate academic self-regulation

It may be argued that self-regulated learning models should not rely entirely on active and conscious self-regulation. Models of self-regulated learning should incorporate reactive and unconscious self-regulation mechanisms as unconscious self-regulation can occur without causing cognitive load. When we examine the three model figures, it is clear that Zimmerman offers (a) more precise sub-processes than Boekaerts and (b) incorporate motivational and emotional characteristics that Winne and Hadwin do not explicitly portray. The second reason is that Boekaerts' and Winne and Hadwin's models are significantly less intuitive, requiring a better comprehension of the underlying theory for proper application. This is not to mean that these two models are less important than the others; on the contrary, they both address two crucial components of academic self-regulation in depth: emotion control and metacognition.

These models include motivational and emotional components, which are more important for academic achievement throughout elementary school. When it comes to more mature students (i.e., university), interventions that include more metacognitive features benefit them more (Panadero, 2017). This is most likely related to increasing execution of cognitively demanding activities that necessitate the application of more specific strategies. Therefore, it is possible to assume that metacognitive models will have a greater influence at this educational level. Finally, data from higher education and workplace trainees reveal that the four most important indicators discovered: goal level, persistence, effort, and self-efficacy, have a significant motivational value and are all understood in the social cognitive framework (Panadero, 2017)[Provide more detail].

  Case Study: A teacher notices that one of her students is struggling with motivation while doing a task, implementing some of Zimmerman's subprocesses (e.g., self-consequences) at the early stage may have a beneficial impact[grammar?]. Whereas if the teacher were to apply either of the second group of models, may offer more comprehensive solutions of self-regulated learning[grammar?].

Applying strategiesEdit

[Provide more detail]


Education plays an important role in assisting students and individuals to acquire self-regulated skills that help to reach their full potential academically and personally. Students who are defined as self-regulated appear to participate proactively in the learning environment, emotionally, motivationally and cognitively (Sahranavard et al., 2018). Thus, these students are observed to self-activate and self-direct their efforts to acquire knowledge and skills by developing specific strategies and goals of interest. However, academic self-regulation in relation to motivation, [grammar?] indicates that students may control their incentive to study and manages students behaviour by employing tactics affected by motivating ideas (e.g., expectations, goals, and values), further enabling students to motivate themselves and direct their conduct.

Paris and Paris (2003), whose research is based on the direct application of self-regulated learning within the classroom, suggests three primary areas: literacy teaching, cognitive engagement, and self-assessment. Using tactics such as reciprocal teaching, open-ended assignments, and project-based learning enables educators to teach students the skills they need to become self-regulated learners to improve their overall performance[grammar?]. Thus, it may be suggested that academic self-regulation can also be learnt. Additionally, authentic evaluations, autonomy-based assignments, and portfolios are examples of activities that support self-regulated learning[factual?]. These tactics are student-centred and inquiry-based, causing students to gradually become more independent, resulting in a self-regulated learning environment. Students, on the other hand, must not only understand the methods but also understand the significance of employing them to achieve academic success.[grammar?]


Not only can self-regulated learning be applied academically, but can also be promoted within an individual's personal life. As such, a study conducted by López-Íñiguez and McPherson (2020), suggested that the concept of self-regulated learning has assisted classical music performers to make use of various tools that can enhance their learning. Particularly, in terms of what they do and how they feel and think when practising and performing their music (López-Íñiguez & McPherson, 2020)[grammar?].

As a result, the goal of the study is to improve the various self-regulated learning strategies associated with the behaviour, cognitions and feelings that musicians use when practising and performative music, and that promote a proactive engagement with music making and music learning (McPherson and Zimmerman, 2011; McPherson et al., 2019). Thus, it can be concluded that self-regulated learning may benefit all areas of life and learning environments.

Challenges and future considerationsEdit

Figure 4. Students at the University of Nishapur are faced with academic challenges.

Academic self-regulation has numerous benefits including being an important predictor of academic achievement, self-efficacy, and is distinguished by intense emotional and motivational involvement during the phases of learning. However, there may be some barriers faced when achieving self-regulated learning, such as self-assessment levels, time management and lack of motivation and the inability to set goals[for example?]. It is difficult to understand the conceptualisation of academic self-regulation as patterns of interrelationships between self-regulated learning, related individuals' differences and the underlying processes to which they relate, which appear inconclusive. Thus, future research may benefit from developing a matric[say what?] method that maps out areas of future self-regulated learning processes that accommodate all individual differences and learning styles that can function more generally.

Additionally, it is difficult to determine whether students can transfer skills from one content area to another to promote a healthy and strong academic self-regulation process. Therefore, embedding self-regulated learning within the school environments for specific units or subjects that can be transferable, may be more effective. Teaching individuals to be taught different ways to self-regulate in various applied or learnt settings, may increase transferable skills. However, further research is needed to understand when students believe self-regulated learning skills are useful and how they can be linked to particular contexts.


1 Academic self-regulation is the same concept as Self-regulated learning?


2 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is most effective during academic self-regulation when _________

The higher-order needs have been met
When the lower-order needs are met
When only one need is met

3 Intrinsic motivation is when goals arise from the outside expectations of your surroundings and environment.



Academic self-regulation, which is characterised by strong emotional and motivational involvement during the phases of learning, is an important predictor of academic accomplishment and self-efficacy, and improved well-being. This book chapter explored the means of academic self-regulation, how it can be learnt, maintained and fostered. Improving academic self-regulation may improve an individual's motivational level and strive for reaching their potential as a student and as a human being. Whilst, on the other hand, individuals who are motivated and persistent in their pursuit of intrinsic and extrinsic goals, can achieve academic self-regulation[grammar?]. Furthermore, motivational beliefs are students' attitudes, values, and judgements that they employ to attach significance to learning events. Motivational beliefs may relate to the importance students place on a domain, their perception of the effectiveness of learning, instructional tactics, or self-efficacy views. Such beliefs serve as a foundation for students' ideas, feelings, and behaviours in a certain subject. Self-regulated learners take on difficult activities, practise their learning, get a thorough comprehension of the subject matter, and strive for academic success. These features may assist to explain why self-regulated learners typically have a strong sense of self-efficacy which can be further explored within the realm of educational psychology[add link to Wikipedia article so the reader can learn more], where researchers have associated these characteristics with success and achievement in and beyond educational environments.

See alsoEdit


Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In K. Spence (Ed.). The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 2, 89–195. Academic Press.

Boekaerts, M. (1997). Self-regulated learning: A new concept embraced by researchers, policy makers, educators, teachers, and students. Learning and Instruction, 7(2), 161-186.

Boekaerts, M. (1999). Self-regulated learning: Where we are today. International Journal of Educational Research, 31(6), 445-457.

Greene, J. A., & Azevedo, R. (2007). A theoretical review of Winne and Hadwin’s model of self-regulated learning: New perspectives and directions. Review of Educational Research, 77(3), 334-372.

Gutman, L., & Schoon, I. (2013). The Impact of non-cognitive skills on outcomes for young people (PDF). Education Endowment Foundation.

Friedman, B. A., & Mandel, R. G. (2012). Motivation Predictors of College Student Academic Performance and Retention. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 13(1), 1–15.

Lee, W., Lee, M. J., & Bong, M. (2014). Testing interest and self-efficacy as predictors of academic self-regulation and achievement. Journal of Contemporary Educational Psychology, 39(2), 86-99.

López-Íñiguez, G., & McPherson, G. E. (2020). Applying self-regulated learning and self-determination theory to optimize the performance of a concert cellist. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 385.

McClelland, M. M., John Geldhof, G., Cameron, C.E. and Wanless, S.B. (2015). Development and Self-Regulation. Journal of Child Psychology and Developmental Science, 1.

McPherson, G. E., Osborne, M. S., Evans, P., & Miksza, P. (2019). Applying self-regulated learning microanalysis to study musicians’ practice. Psychology of Music, 47(1), 18-32.

McPherson, G. E., & Zimmerman, B. J. (2011). Self-regulation of musical learning: A social cognitive perspective on developing performance skills. MENC Handbook of Research on Music Learning. Oxford University Press.

Panadero, E., & Alonso-Tapia, J. (2014). How do students self-regulate? Review of Zimmerman's cyclical model of self-regulated learning. Journal of Psychology, 30(2), 450-462.

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

Paris, S. G., & Paris, A. H. (2001). Classroom Applications of Research on Self-Regulated Learning. Educational Psychologist, 36(2), 89–101

Pintrich, P. R. (2000). Multiple goals, multiple pathways: The role of goal orientation in learning and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(3), 544–555.

Sahranavard, S., Miri, M. R., & Salehiniya, H. (2018). The relationship between self-regulation and educational performance in students. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 7, 154.

Winne, P. H., & Hadwin, A. F. (1998). Studying as self-regulated engagement in learning. In D. Hacker, J. Dunlosky & A. Graesser (Eds.). Metacognition in Educational Theory and Practice. 277-304. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum

Wolters, C. A. (1998). Self-regulated learning and college students' regulation of motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(2), 224.

Zimmerman, B. J. (1990). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: An overview. Educational Psychologist, 25(1), 3-17.

External linksEdit