Self-Regulated Learning: Beliefs, Techniques, and Illusions

Robert A. Bjork, John Dunlosky, Nate Kornell, Annual Review of Psychology, Jul 06, 2018
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This 2012 paper (29 page PDF) on self-regulated learning was just listed on today's O'Reilly newsletter. It felt dated even for six years ago, and is much more so today. The approach the authors take to learning is 'study and recall', and the mechanisms they describe - things like reading, self-testing, spacing, interleaving - are things from a purely cognitivist model of learning that involves encoding, storing, and retrieving content from memory (as though one were a computer). Their point is to argue that students need to learn how to learn - not something I would contest, necessarily - but this is based not on what the students do (which seems to be effective enough) but on studies about what they believe about what they do. So overall I wasn't very happy with the paper (notwithstanding that it is a pretty good paper), and felt there was a lot of room for improvement. But here's the point: this is what software developers are being told we are trying to do in education, even though a proper review based on modern sources would make it clear that it is not. This is where the problems in educational technology begin.

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