By Dr Helena Pacitti, Associate Lecturer (EF), UNSW School of Psychology
Published 26 September 2023
It was an honour to host the Inaugural Visiting Teaching Fellow for UNSW Science, Associate Professor Jason Lodge (University of Queensland). His visit, which was supported by the Education Focussed program, included student seminars, staff workshops and presentations of his research. Importantly, it also offered a valuable opportunity to discuss the evidence supporting Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) strategies, disseminate effective SRL study techniques to students, and workshop how teachers can best support students to become self-regulated learners.
During the staff workshops, A/Prof. Lodge walked through research evidence highlighting the importance of developing SRL and identified areas where students often need support. He discussed how he applies this research evidence to his learning activities, assessment, and course design. As a group, we engaged in collaborative discussions and generated novel ideas for how we can best support students in common areas of concern and effectively intervene when they are struggling. As I reflect on the workshops, three interrelated concepts stand out:
1. Negative emotions:
We know from research (and firsthand experience) that students experience negative emotions (Lodge, Sheppard, & McGrath, 2022; Larcombe et al., 2016; Lodge et al., 2022) and need support to manage these so they don’t affect the learning process (Lodge et al., 2018; Arguel et al., 2019; Lodge et al., 2022). For example, if a student is confused about a concept covered in a lecture, the confusion can become distressing if it remains unresolved (Lodge et al., 2018), and, driven by the fear of failure, can lead to a spiral of negative emotions. However, as teachers we know that confusion is an important, natural, and necessary part of the learning process. By removing the stigma associated with confusion and encouraging students to see it as a cue to switch strategies (for example, seeking help or consulting different resources or scaffolding material) we can support their learning by helping them manage negative emotions and use these moments for their benefit.
The shift to online and blended learning provides students with more flexibility. However, more flexibility means more choice. Students need to be guided to make informed choices about how to use their study time effectively (Lodge et al., 2022) so they can switch strategies when needed. When students understand what quality learning looks like, they can track their activity and calibrate their approach throughout the learning process (Nelson & Narens, 1990; Dunlosky & Bjork, 2008).
Evaluation does not just occur at the end of a project or learning process. It is crucial to encourage self-evaluation during the process of learning so students can adjust what they’re doing (Nelson & Narens, 1990). One simple way to encourage self-evaluation is by asking students how confident they are in their answer to a formative assessment or concept knowledge check before they receive the mark and feedback from their teacher.
This prompts students to reflect on the discrepancy between their perceived knowledge and their actual understanding. Another approach is to ask students to evaluate the effort they put into their work and how they believe they performed. Identifying significant discrepancies between perceived and actual performance early on opens a door of opportunity for effective intervention. Encouraging students to think about their thinking and compare their current status to where they need to be provides a safeguard against the Dunning Kruger effect (Kruger & Dunning, 1999) and the second-year slump (Larmar & Lodge, 2014).
Higher education is truly transformative, and becoming a metacognitively aware, autonomous, self-regulated learner is crucial for students embarking on this transformational journey.
They rely on our support, particularly early on, to establish good habits that will benefit them throughout their journey. These strategies are transferrable across courses, disciplines, and areas of employment. Encouraging students to become self-regulated learners reduces attrition, supports efficiencies, and facilitates lifelong learning (Larmar & Lodge, 2014).
Since the fellowship, we have witnessed the emergence of generative AI, and our sector is navigating its way through a rapidly evolving environment. The importance of teaching our students how to use this technology in an ethical, critical, and discipline-appropriate way requires them to build their metacognitive capital. I will continue to incorporate SRL principles, particularly metacognition, into my teaching practice, assessment, and course design, so the potential of generative AI can be embraced and its pitfalls avoided.
The increasing emphasis on SRL is a paradigm shift in our sector and an exciting time to be working in higher education. Collaborations like A/Prof. Lodge’s visit and the interactions among the seminar and workshop participants are a vital part of using that shift to help our students succeed.
Learn more from Professor Lodge
Upcoming Scientia Education Lecture: From hype to despair and back again: Where to next with Generative AI and assessment
Wednesday 11 October | 12-1pm | Online
Blog's editorial support by Laura E. Goodin
- Arguel, A., Lockyer, L., Kennedy, G., Lodge, J. M., & Pachman, M. (2019). Seeking optimal confusion: a review on epistemic emotion management in interactive digital learning environments. Interactive Learning Environments, 27(2), 200–210. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2018.1457544
- Dunlosky, J. & Bjork, R.A. (2008). The integrated nature of metamemory and memory. In Dunlosky, J. & Bjork, R.A. (Eds.). Handbook of Metamemory and Memory (pp. 11-28). Psychology Press.
- Kruger, J., & Dunning, D. (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one's own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. J Pers Soc Psychol, 77(6), 1121-1134. https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-35126.96.36.1991
- Larcombe, W., Finch, S., Sore, R., Murray, C. M., Kentish, S., Mulder, R. A., . . . Williams, D. A. (2016). Prevalence and socio-demographic correlates of psychological distress among students at an Australian university. Studies in Higher Education, 41(6), 1074-1091. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2014.966072
- Larmar, S., & Lodge, J. M. (2014). Making sense of how I learn: Metacognitive capital and the first year university student. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.5204/intjfyhe.v5i1.193
- Lodge, J. M., Kennedy, G., Lockyer, L., Arguel, A., & Pachman, M. (2018). Understanding Difficulties and Resulting Confusion in Learning: An Integrative Review. Frontiers in Education, 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2018.00049
- Lodge, J.M., de Barba, P., & Broadbent, J. (2022, August 16). Online learning is still challenging for students – they need our support. Times Higher Education. https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/online-learning-still-challenging-students-they-need-our-support
- Lodge, J. M. Sheppard, K., McGrath, D. (2022, June 30). A longitudinal study of the lived experience of first year students. Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia (HERDSA) Conference, Melbourne, Australia.
- Nelson, T. O. & Narens, L. (1990). Metamemory: A Theoretical Framework and New Findings. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 26, 125-173. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0079-7421(08)60053-5.
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