I really enjoyed the readings this week because every aspect of self-regulated learning – self awareness, self motivation, self efficacy – is related to my module and to my job. As an advisor to first year college students, I see the opening scenario a dozen times – a student enters college with no specific learning strategies and vague self-evaluative standards – tries to “cram” the night before a test and fails (Zimmerman, 2002, pg. 1). The outcome is obvious to us, yet I have to treat the individual situation differently every year. I explain all the time to my students that time management is a life skill. You can’t perfect time management skills overnight. By virtue of the name, a skill is a process, not an outcome. I explain to my students that they may have to practice new habits in college that they weren’t exposed to in high school if they want to achieve academic success. In a way, I think self regulated learning is the definition of academic success. Self regulated learning is the social cognitive process of goal setting, self-monitoring, help seeking, and time management. The pinnacle of transformational learning is when a student is in control of their own learning processes.
Self regulated learning is absolutely necessary to online success because of the perceived flexibility and freedom. A major challenge for any new college student is devoting adequate time to do classwork. The challenge becomes even greater when there is no scheduled time to meet to engage in synchronous discussion. Janet Michello from LaGuardia community college writes that “Students need to be prepared to organize their time efficiently in order to comply with online and hybrid course requirements, and be sufficiently interested in the course and motivated to successfully complete it. Students need to be aware that they must contact the instructor if assignments are not clearly laid out or if they do not understand directions, work required, etc.” What Janet describes as a necessary success skill must be taught and does not come naturally to freshmen – this is where my module comes in. If I can get first semester freshmen enrolled in my module, they will not only be familiar with the web-based platforms many VCU professors use, but more importantly they will learn vital self regulated learning techniques through a 90 day academic challenge focused on goal orientation, self-evaluation, and reflection. I want them to get ahead of the game so by the time they enroll in a blended course in their second semester, they will have practiced self-regulated learning techniques.
Breaking down a new goal into small, digestible steps increases success rates. As part of the 90 day challenge, students choose one goal specific to honing their online learning skills (e.g. if they need to work on their time management skills, the goal would be to establish a set schedule for class time to read, write, blog, etc. which would help ensure class participation/preparation and completion of homework assignments). They will then list out the steps to achieve that goal, obstacles, support system, resources, and rewards for meeting weekly to do lists. Students will then be paired into blog buddies and provide feedback on one another’s plan. Students will blog/reflect with one another about their progress throughout the 90 days – perhaps refining their goal or making adjustments to the strategy. Like Monty said, I’m more concerned about the learning process than I am the outcome. When I did this before in a in-class environment, 90% didn’t meet their GPA goal, but they did walk away with great new strategies and resources in place for next semester. That is where the skill set comes in.