, Volume 36, Issue 1-2, pp 111-139

Promoting Self-Regulation in Science Education: Metacognition as Part of a Broader Perspective on Learning


The purpose of this article is to review recent research on self-regulated learning and discuss the implications of this research for science education. We draw on examples of self-regulated learning from the science education literature to summarise and illustrate effective instructional methods and the development of metacognitive understanding (Gunstone; 1999a; Rickey & Stacy, 2000; White & Mitchell, 1994). We also focus on the crucial role that metacognition plays in self-regulation (Baird & White, 1996; Nichols, Tippins, & Wieseman, 1997; White, 1998).

We divide our discussion into two main parts. The first focuses on three components of self-regulated learning, including cognition, metacognition, and motivation. We relate these aspects of self-regulation to current practices in science education. The second section focuses on six general instructional strategies for improving self-regulation in the science classroom. We focus on the use of inquiry based learning, the role of collaborative support, strategy and problem solving instruction, the construction of mental models, the use of technology to support learning, and the role of personal beliefs such as self-efficacy and epistemological world views. These instructional strategies are selected because they reflect extensive research agendas over the last decade within the science education literature and are essential to metacognition and self-regulation (Butler & Winne, 1995; Gunstone, 1999b).