Self-Regulated Learning (SRL)

One of the many intriguing concepts I investigated last semester was self-regulation (also known as self directed learning). I love, love, love the idea of helping learners take on the responsibility of their own learning. For so long, I thought it was my job to help my learners self regulate and I now realise that this is so not helpful. The research seems clear that explicitly teaching self regulation is enormously beneficial yet I have wondered how it actually works for specialist subjects, especially those limited to single weekly lessons. If you are incorporating SRL (successfully or unsuccessfully) into language lessons, I would really appreciate your comments (please, please write below)! This post hopes to pull together the learning I have done to date and exploring how it could potentially be adapted into a CBLT classroom.


What is Self-Regulation? 

Zimmerman in his article, Investigating Self-Regulation and Motivation: Historical Background, Methodological Developments, and Future Prospects, says SRL research was initially concerned with discovering how students master their own learning processes. And, probably it still does!!

Here’s a quote from this article to begin unpacking SRL:

SRL is viewed as proactive (my bolding) processes that students use to acquire academic skill, such as setting goals, selecting and deploying strategies, and self-monitoring one’s effectiveness. (Zimmerman, 2008).

Cynthia White in her article, Language Learning Strategies in Independent Language Learning: An Overview (2008), explains that:

“self-directed learners have an understanding of how to deploy self-management strategies, know how they learn best, and have the necessary procedural skills to set up optimal learning conditions.”


Thus SRL is concerned primarily with metacognition (not academic ability), ie, thinking about thinking. For SRL, metacognition has individual students reflecting on how they best learn to pinpoint strategies needed for their successful learning. It then becomes each students’ responsibility to proactively employ these strategies during learning. Sounds like a dream doesn’t it?

 ‘Zones of Regulation’
While googling SRL for an assignment, I found a website called Zones Of Regulation. Leah Kuypers, an American OT, designed this curriculum “to help students identify their feelings and emotional reactions and learn sensory and perspective taking strategies that encourage better self-regulation”. There is so much here that really resonates with me for classroom use. Please note that the materials are copyrighted, but thankfully there are many blogs and images that provide snapshots to explain the main concepts.
I really love the concept of coloured coded zones representing the four main states of mind and that it can include a list of strategy suggestions for students to use to help them move from one zone to another for successful learning.

Apparently several Australian schools are implementing this program and if you teach at one, I’d love to know how it’s working.

The reason I am attracted to ‘Zones of Regulation’, as a possible way in which to embed SRL into CBLT lessons, is largely due to its succinctness and transferability across student ages. Incorporating explicit strategies to help facilitate smooth transitioning from quieter listening activities to active brain breaks (and visa versa) is very appealing.

As you can see in the first Zones image above, strategies that support students transitioning between the zones is negotiable and would thus vary significantly from a general classroom to a language classroom. My overall goal when first establishing the list of strategies would be to ensure students understand the importance of learners remaining in the Indonesian classroom and that all strategies must be silent and unobtrusive to avoid interfering with the learning of others.

Here is a terrific video to watch where Leah Kuypers talks about the Zones framework. She makes many great points.
Note to Australians, I recommend speeding up the speech rate. Go to settings, then playback speed and choosing a faster rate. Makes it so much more appealing.


A huge thank you to Laura Wimsett & Penny Coutas for their contribution to this discussion on the TCI/TPRS Indonesian Facebook page.




5 thoughts on “Self-Regulated Learning (SRL)

  1. Heidi Lindgren says:

    Awesome blog post. Now back casual teaching as a casual, I see this poster everywhere( or versions of it) in every public classroom i go in to. But I am not sure if it is used much by teachers/students…. Some teachers move students names themselves, whereas I thought students were meant to move their own name, to indicate where they were and how they were doing.


  2. Belinda Dello-Iacovo says:

    Great post Cathy. I talk to students a lot about the importance of active listening. By the way dog trainers use the concept of red, yellow and green zones as well. A dog cannot learn when it is in the red zone. It would make sense for people too!


    • bucathy says:

      That’s so interesting because a friend of mine has a young puppy and she said exactly the same thing about her dogs learning!
      How do you explicitly scaffold active listening so that students learn how to listen actively? Really interested in how this looks in a language classroom Belinda! Thanks so much for commenting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s