Self-management of learning: what it is and what are its elements and phases

There are many different teaching methods, but the learning self-management It has some characteristics that make it unique.

Next we will delve into the details of this model in order to understand it in depth and thus be able to know the peculiarities that make this system so important. Likewise, we will explore the different factors that must be included as well as the phases of this process.

What is self-management of learning?

Self-management of learning is a training process based on the student being the one who takes control of the procedure and therefore being the one who establishes the objectives you want to achieve and manage your own work on the content to integrate them as knowledge. This model is also known as self-managed learning or self-regulated learning.

Therefore, the main key to this process is the weight it places on the figure of the student, becoming at the same time their own teacher, since they must act in an active way, managing themselves throughout the learning process and achieving that way the fulfillment of the objectives that had been marked, that is to say, the acquisition of the knowledge proposed in the beginning.

Self-management of learning would encompass all cognitive processes in addition to the behaviors that the individual carries out throughout the entire process. But the key factor to explain this phenomenon is undoubtedly motivation, because without it it is practically impossible for a person to carry out a correct self-management of learning, since he needs a reason to force himself to put all his mental services at the service of this process.

Elements of learning self-management

Self-management of learning implies the appearance of a series of elements so that we can consider it as such. They are the ones we are going to see below.

1. Interest

We already anticipated that motivation is the backbone of this procedure. This motivation implies in one way or another an interest, which may be the utility that the knowledge or skill that you are learning will bring youPerhaps a promising job prospect as a result of this change, the qualification to carry out a certain activity or simply the desire to know more about a specific subject or field of knowledge.

The reasons why the object of learning is of interest are very personal and will depend on each individual, but they must always exist, as they are needed to achieve a self-motivating effect.

On the contrary, if there is absolutely no reason for a person to embark on the mission of acquiring a certain knowledge or skill, it is unlikely that they will do so and therefore the phenomenon of self-management of learning cannot occur.

2. Attribution

The second element that we find when we talk about self-management of learning is attribution, that is, what the person initiating this process hopes to achieve with the same. It can be learning a new skill or knowledge or being able to get a promotion. It is not the interest itself, but the perspective itself that you hope to achieve.

3. Self-monitoring

Another element that is needed to be able to walk the path of self-management of learning is self-monitoring. What does it mean? What the individual must be able to look at himself with perspective during the process to realize where he isWhat possible problems are you finding and what is the way to solve them or in general if the process is being effective or if, on the contrary, you must adopt new strategies to achieve the end you are pursuing.

4. Self-efficacy

In order to carry out self-management of learning, it is essential to believe that we are capable of doing it because we have the right tools, whether they are manuals to use, enough time, motivation, etc. Thanks to that we generate a perception of self-efficacy without which we would hardly see the proposed goal as a feasible scenario and therefore we would not start the process, or we would abandon it, due to the expectations of failure that we would have.

5. Self-awareness

If we have all the above elements and we are within a learning self-management process, we will be able to review the new knowledge or skills that we are incorporating into ourselves, we are aware of this. Hence, self-awareness is another element that appears when we talk about this procedure.

6. Recursion

Finally, the last factor that is involved in self-management of learning is that of recursion. It is about the ability that people have to use the resources that we have in very different ways to achieve different ends. In this case it would be direct our resources and capacities to get closer and closer to the learning goal that we have proposed and thus integrate the skill or knowledge that we initially wanted.

Phases according to the Winne and Hadwin model

Self-management of learning has different models that try to explain it in the most correct way possible. One of them is by authors Philip H. Winne and Allyson Fiona Hadwin. These researchers speak of a process that takes place through four phases, which are the ones we will see below.

1. Approach to the task

The first thing a person willing to learn will do is get an approach to the task. In this way assess your motivation and the resources available to you to start the challenge. The perception that the subject will have about the task is a totally individual matter, so it will be different for each person.

2. Goal setting

Once the student has evaluated the task in front of him, he will be in a position to set the goals in this regard that he deems appropriate and also draw up a plan that allows you to manage your resources in order to achieve these objectives. Likewise, the goals are a decision that depends on each one.

3. Implementation of the plan

Once you are task-oriented and with a defined plan in mind, it is time to take action and carry it out. This would be the third step of self-management of learning. For this they will have to apply their skills and resources so that the strategies they choose to achieve the established goals are as efficient as possible.

4. Reorientation

Obviously, many times the objectives set are not achieved in the first attempt, but that is part of the self-management learning process. That is why the fourth phase refers to the reorientation of the plan, learning from the failures and errors that we have been finding and thus being able to get closer and closer to a satisfactory strategy That ultimately leads us to the fulfillment of the goals and therefore to the acquisition of the new skill or knowledge.

During this phase, goals can be reoriented, the entire plan changed, the use of resources varied, and the task can even be completely abandoned if the person discovers that they had misjudged feasibility, if they are no longer interested for the reason that Either or if you decide to spend your time on a different task that at that moment motivates you more or with which you seem to be more successful.

Self-management of learning in practice

There are several mechanisms that allow self-management of learning to be brought into a practical setting, especially in the teaching context. We are going to see the most used strategies.

1. Self-assessment

Through self-assessment, the student can approach the task, realize where they are, what are the resources they have and thus be able to draw up a plan that leads him to achieve learning.

2. Pre-post comparison

Pre-post comparison exercises are usually used, that is, before going through the teaching process and afterwards. In this way the student can introspect about your own learning and become aware of the changes that have happened within you and what knowledge has been integrated or what should it try to strengthen.

3. Thinking aloud

Another strategy used for self-management of learning is the try to actively verbalize the entire thought process What happens in the mind of the student when he is trying to solve a specific task.

4. Battery of questions

It is also possible to propose to the student that, when faced with a new lesson material, he himself should prepare a series of questions to be solved. Being able to answer them correctly will imply that an integration of knowledge has been carried out.

5. Mutual teaching

Another tactic some teachers employ is propose to their students that they themselves try to teach their classmates certain questions on the subject they are dealing with. Thanks to this, they will go through a self-management of learning that will allow them to later become teachers for the rest of the students.

Bibliographic references:

  • Boekaerts, M. (1999). Self-regulated learning: Where we are today. International journal of educational research. Elsevier.
  • Pintrich, PR (1995). Understanding self-regulated learning. New directions for teaching and learning. Wiley Online Library.
  • Winne, PH, Perry, NE (2000). Measuring self-regulated learning. Handbook of self-regulation. Elsevier.
  • Zimmerman, BJ (1990). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: An overview. Educational psychologist. Taylor & Francis.


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