Self-regulation in a web-based course: A case study

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Abstract

Little is known about how successful students in Web-based courses self-regulate their learning. This descriptive case study used a social cognitive model of self-regulated learning (SRL) to investigate how six graduate students used and adapted traditional SRL strategies to complete tasks and cope with challenges in a Web-based technology course; it also explored motivational and environmental influences on strategy use. Primary data sources were three transcribed interviews with each of the students over the course of the semester, a transcribed interview with the course instructor, and the students' reflective journals. Archived course documents, including transcripts of threaded discussions and student Web pages, were secondary data sources. Content analysis of the data indicated that these students used many traditional SRL strategies, but they also adapted planning, organization, environmental structuring, help seeking, monitoring, record keeping, and self-reflection strategies in ways that were unique to the Web-based learning environment. The data also suggested that important motivational influences on SRL strategy use—self-efficacy, goal orientation, interest, and attributions—were shaped largely by student successes in managing the technical and social environment of the course. Important environmental influences on SRL strategy use included instructor support, peer support, and course design. Implications for online course instructors and designers, and suggestions for future research are offered.