Self-Regulation A Learning Predictor

Research indicates the one most important factor that predicts academic success better than IQ is self-regulation. Self-regulation is a better predictor of homework completion, the potential for grade point gains through a year and standardized test scores.

Self-regulation is the ability to consciously suppress or delay responses in order to work for a higher goal. It is much like a muscle that can be exercised and strengthened.

Raising one’s hand to answer a question then waiting to be called upon by the teacher, controlling one’s urge to get angry or to call someone a name, studying diligently for a test or abiding by the rules are examples of self-regulation in action.

Self-regulation is more than just compliance, inhibiting one’s impulses or ignoring distractions. It covers a full array of processes as outlined in Baumeister & Vohs’ Handbook of Self-Regulation. There are at least five definitions presented in the chapters:

1. "The ability to attain, maintain and change one’s level of arousal appropriately for a task or situation”

2. "The ability to control one’s emotions”

3. "The ability to formulate a goal, monitor goal-progress, adjust one’s behaviours”

4. "The ability to manage social interactions, to co-regulate”

5. "To be aware of one’s academic strengths and weaknesses, and have a repertoire of strategies to tackle day-to-day challenges of academic tasks”

I recently did a quick experiment to test the self-regulation of the students in my grade 1/2 class. Each child was offered 2 mini-marshmallows while they worked at completing an assigned task. They were told that since they were working well they could eat the marshmallow immediately, but if they waited until the assignment was over to eat the marshmallows they would receive 2 additional mini-marshmallows. All but one child was able to delay the instant gratification of eating the marshmallows immediately. I was no doubt pleased with the results of the experiment, but life becomes tougher as the years go by, so how can we help our children improve their self-regulation?

At school, teachers continually challenge the growth of students’ self-regulation through attention training, such as listening for details, observing closely, and solving complex puzzles. Reading aloud is a great way that accomplishes this, especially as teachers increase the amount of time they read aloud and complexity of the texts.

Engaging students in writing exercises across the curriculum is one of the best ways to challenge the growth of self-regulation. Encouraging our students to participate in physical education classes with fitness as the focus helps students gain more self-regulation.

An Individual who "speaks” to oneself is putting self-regulation into action. The messages that are spoken to oneself influence thinking which influence actions. Self-talk can give stick-to-it, wait-for-it and focusing powers.

To quote Kevin Washburn, author of The Architecture of Learning: Designing Instruction for the Learning Brain, "Strengthening students’ self-regulation capacities supports the academic learning we’re seeking through our teaching.”

Check out the link below to find out what you can do at home to build your child’s self-regulation.

Written by Lauralynn Mercer

Lauralynn is our school Principal and Chief Operating Officer. Lauralynn has taught in Christian Schools for over 18 years and desires that children develop a love for God and serving Him at a young age
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