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Turning On, Tuning In, And Dropping Out

Self-Regulation In Online Learning

Participating in an online education boasts several benefits. Online learning presents chances for high-quality learning when it is properly designed and delivered. Online education is economical once the infrastructure is in place, adding students at little or no marginal cost. Online education is practical because it gives students the freedom to advance their knowledge and abilities at their own speed, wherever they are and at any time.

Tuning In And Dropping Out

Each of these defenses for online learning is smashed by attrition, or quitting and failing a course of study or class. Attrition rates in online learning can be twice as high as those in conventional face-to-face learning methods, however specific numbers are not known (Levy, 2007). In fact, some data indicates that online course turnover rates range from 40 to 60 percent. Attrition rates in self-paced Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) can (and frequently do) reach 90%. (Burns, 2016). The quality, effectiveness, validity, and cost-efficiency of online education are all compromised by this high attrition rate. In fact, it “undermines the basic foundation of online learning and raises the question of whether it is really cost-effective.

The various elements and motivations that contribute to attrition are frequently the subject of research on online learning. But why do a majority of online students, while facing internal and external obstacles that could appear in a given course or situation, continue to work toward their goals? “Self-regulation” is a significant factor.

What Is Self-Regulation?

Self-regulation, in its broadest sense, is the capacity to plan one’s emotions, actions, and ideas in the service of achieving a long-term objective. It comprises self-control (the famous and sometimes contentious marshmallow test which is referenced in images 1, 2, and 4) and self-efficacy (the faith that one can succeed if one tries). Three “phases” are commonly involved in self-regulation: planning, performance-oriented focus, and reflection.

How Do We “Self-Regulate”?

Metacognitive processes

These procedures entail the learner actively considering and assessing the efficacy of the cognitive techniques they employ to perform a learning task, tracking these procedures and their development, and then self-evaluating and modifying techniques as appropriate.

Motivational processes

The online learner is able to “start and maintain focused goal-directed tasks while disregarding distractions or failures” because to these procedures. Setting goals and employing tactics to reach them are involved in this.

Behavioral processes

“Positive” actions that are often linked to successful or desired task completion are self-regulatory behavioral processes. Additional tutoring, creating a schedule to better manage time, eliminating distractions and temptations (like marshmallows), maintaining a study log, and, most importantly, “help-seeking”—reaching out to the teacher or other online students for support—all fall under this category.

From Goals To Attainment: Self-Regulation In Online Learning

Undoubtedly, an online course or program cannot alter the inherent traits of an online student, but it can help with two tasks connected to self-regulation by paying close attention to lecture design, instruction, and learner preparation. First, thoughtful course design and delivery can offer supports to assist students with limited self-regulation in completing the course. Additionally, teachers can assist students in creating their own “self-regulated learning systems”. The remaining section of this article suggests three different sets of tactics to help with these two jobs.

Strategy 1: Design Cohort-Based Courses

While creating asynchronous, self-paced courses for our students is simpler, attrition is significantly greater in these types of courses. The students are working alone; nobody may notice or care if they stop working; and the student is by himself or herself as he or she pursues his or her educational goals.

We should therefore create instructor-led, cohort-based, and synchronous courses that provide numerous chances for meaningful and continuous learner interaction with the course material, with the instructor, and with other students in order to lower attrition. Create high interaction courses that place a strong emphasis on learner-instructor and learner-learner interaction in particular. Why? It makes sense quite easily. Making meaning is simpler when done in a group. When dealing with challenging ideas, interpreting information, and doing it collaboratively, there is less temptation to give up and greater emotional and cognitive power. Furthermore, there is less temptation to give up because there are lots of individuals who count on you and you are a memeber of a group. According to research, these programs are highly related to an online course’s completion, satisfaction, higher performance, and stronger learning outcomes.

Strategy 2: Invest In The Preparation Of Online Instructors

The value of the online instructor in aiding students in creating self-regulation methods cannot be overstated. Student satisfaction with the online instructor is the single most important factor in their performance in an online course. For knowledge construction, participating in online conversations, and providing scaffolding, instructor engagement with students is crucial.

Online teachers need to be aware of the difficulties with self-regulation that many online learners encounter in order to develop the kinds of high-interaction courses indicated above. Successful student academic achievements in online courses are associated with the training and support provided to teachers for encouraging suitable self-regulation skills for students.

The motivation of online learners can be increased by creating high-touch, high-interaction, engaging, caring, and collaborative learning environments. It can also develop a feeling of belonging, community, and create an atmosphere that cultivates both self-confidence and self-efficacy. In turn, students with high self-efficacy think that exerting more effort will result in positive outcomes, which is a crucial aspect of self-regulation.

Students can monitor their performance, stay motivated, and avoid negative behaviors like procrastination with the help of active facilitation or scaffolds (such as weekly check-ins, reminders, reaching out to individual students, office hours); detailed, constructive feedback that encourages reflective and actionable revision; and, publicly praising a student’s good work.

Strategy 3: Help Learners Develop Self-Regulation Skills

Finally, teachers can support students’ growth in self-control. They can first introduce self-regulation and self-efficacy to online students, offer tools and checklists, and assist students in creating a custom set of motivational, metacognitive, and behavioral processes that will enable them to successfully complete their online course. These may consist of:

  • Encouraging students to collaborate with partners
  • Establishing a contract or agreement between the instructor and the pupil that calls for support when the latter is perplexed or lost
  • Helping students create a schedule and study plan to improve time management abilities
  • Encouraging students to rearrange their learning space in order to reduce interruptions or procrastination (For example, going to the library instead of staying home and studying on the couch or getting away from certain friends.)
  • Changing undesirable habits without relying on willpower
  • According to research (Groopman, 2019), reorganizing our environments in ways that encourage positive actions is the key to breaking negative habits. Learners can exert more control over their learning if they have more control over their environment (see the bullet point above) and their learning circumstances (having time to create or learn).

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