Effects of mobile-app learning diaries vs online training on specific self-regulated learning components


Self-regulated learning (SRL) is associated with increased academic achievement and improved learning outcomes for students. Thus, it is import to find ways to improve SRL, such as through training. Face-to-face training, discipline-dependent training, and paper-and-pencil diaries are limited in the number of students they can reach. The current randomised control study implemented discipline-independent online training and novel mobile-app based diaries and tested SRL motivation and perceived strategy use in 73 University students from mixed disciplines and study mode. Results showed that participants in the combined condition (training with diaries) improved more than other conditions. Specifically, they improved on SRL knowledge, metacognitive strategies, cognitive strategies (elaboration, organisation and critical thinking), and resources management strategies (time-management and effort regulation). The present study extends previous findings, showing that positive effects can be found for SRL when a discipline-independent approach is used coupled with online training and a mobile-app based daily diary.

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Thank you to Anukesh Sharma and Michelle Benstead for their help with data collection.


First author received funding from the Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning (CRADLE) at Deakin University, Australia. Second author funded by Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad) through personal grant under Ramón y Cajal framework reference RYC-2013-13469 and by National R+D Call (Excelencia) reference EDU2016-79714-P.

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Correspondence to Jaclyn Broadbent.

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Appendix A: Examples from declarative knowledge test

Example Question 1:

When a student student perceives him or herself to be participating in a task for reasons such as challenge, curiosity, mastery this is known as:

  1. 1.

    Extrinsic motivation

  2. 2.

    Intrinsic motivation

  3. 3.

    Task value

  4. 4.

    Mastery self-efficacy

Example Question 2:

Which of the following is an example of a metacognitive strategy:

  1. 1.

    Matt makes sure he keep up with the weekly readings and assignments in his course.

  2. 2.

    Matt works hard to do well in his class even if he doesn’t like what they are doing.

  3. 3.

    Matt tries to think through a topic and decide what he is supposed to learn from it rather than just reading it over when studying.

  4. 4.

    Matt tries to play around with ideas of his own related to what he is learning in his course.

Example Question 3:

The first step self-regulated learners typically do when faced with a learning task is.

  1. 1.

    They begin by analysing the task, establishing goals, interpreting task requirements in terms of their current knowledge and beliefs and working out strategic plans to reach your goals

  2. 2.

    They monitor their progress toward goals, thereby generating internal feedback about the success of their efforts

  3. 3.

    They set task-specific goals, which they use us a basis for selecting, adapting, and possibly inventing strategies that will help them accomplish their objectives

  4. 4.

    They use motivational strategies to keep themselves on task when they become discouraged or encounter difficulties

Appendix 2: Example questions from mobile-app based diary

Example question BEFORE/AFTER study session about affect:

How do you feel at the moment?

  • Active: 1-very slightly or not at all, 2-a little, 3-moderately, 4-quite a bit, 5-extremely.

  • Determined: 1-very slightly or not at all, 2-a little, 3-moderately, 4-quite a bit, 5-extremely.

  • Distressed: 1-very slightly or not at all, 2-a little, 3-moderately, 4-quite a bit, 5-extremely.

  • Nervous: 1-very slightly or not at all, 2-a little, 3-moderately, 4-quite a bit, 5-extremely.

Example question BEFORE study session about motivation

Today, I am studying because I find the topic very interesting: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree.

Example question BEFORE study session about learning strategies

Today, I have made a time schedule: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree.

Example question AFTER study session about motivation

Today, I said to myself: I am able to do it: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree.

Example question AFTER study session about learning strategies

Today, I put much effort into my work: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree.

Appendix 3: Structure of the online SRL training program

Session Topics Content and activities
Traning session 1 Self-regulated learning SRL overview
Components of SRL
Three Phases of SRL
Goal setting and barriers What is your long-term goal, midterm goal, SMART goal
BEST barriers
Barriers and Strategies
Time management Overview
Skills and planning
Time Management style self-assessment quiz
Time management planner
Traning session 2 Distractions and procrastination Overview
Distraction Apps
Reflect and identify distractors
Learning strategies Critical thinking
Mind palace
Note making
Resource management
Peer learning
Help seeking
Metacognitive strategies
Traning session 3 Dealing with failure Attribution theory
Self-serving bias
Fundamental attribution error
Frame of reference
Motivation Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation
Strategies to increase motivation
Self-efficacy What is self-efficacy
Ways to develop self-efficacy beliefs
Self-reflection Reflection
Revision of SRL

SRL self-regulated learning; SMART specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely; BEST behaviour, emotion, situation, thoughts.

Appendix 4: Examples from online SRL training program

Below are a few examples from the training sessions. The training was split into sessions and then designed as mini-chapters within a session. Chapters contained micro-learnings in the form of written and video content, activities, reflective tasks and quizzes.


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Broadbent, J., Panadero, E. & Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M. Effects of mobile-app learning diaries vs online training on specific self-regulated learning components. Education Tech Research Dev 68, 2351–2372 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-020-09781-6

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  • Self-regulated learning
  • Online training
  • Mobile app-based diaries
  • Experience sampling
  • Online learning