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We present data from a longitudinal study of children developing self-regulated learning (SRL), from kindergarten through Grade 6. We focus on researchers’ and teachers’ collaborative design and implementation of assessments, including self-assessments, to support children’s SRL during classroom writing activities when children were in Grade 3. We ask: what do the assessments reveal about children’s engagements in SRL and, particularly, how children’s self-assessments of motivation, affect, and strategies for coping with challenges vary across classrooms with high and low emphasis on SRL?
Self-regulating learners are metacognitive (e.g., self-aware), motivated for learning, and strategic (Zimmerman, 2008). Classroom practices that support SRL have been linked to the development of adaptive responses to challenging circumstances (Perry & VandeKamp, 2000). Especially, formative assessments are linked to adaptive SRL. These assessments are: embedded in on-going activities; focus on learning processes and personal progress; encourage students to reflect on their learning in relation to goals and criteria; and view errors as opportunities to learn and revise accordingly (Andrade & Valtcheva, 2009; Perry, 2013; Black & William, 1998).
Seventeen Grade 3 teachers from six schools in a culturally and economically diverse suburban school district in Western Canada collaborated with researchers to design formative assessments of SRL in writing. Activities incorporated common elements to support cross-class comparisons, but were flexible to “fit” the unique teaching and learning context within classrooms. Analyses for this proposal focused 10 classrooms (5 with high and 5 with low emphasis on SRL; 101 children in total). Data include: “Learning Logs”, which supported children’s self-assessment (so metacognition) about affect, motivation, and strategic action, as well as traces of children’s SRL during writing (e.g., their planning, writing, and revising process) and writing products. These will expand in the paper to include detailed descriptions of the collaborative design process and characteristics of high and low SRL emphasis classrooms.
Children in the high, versus low, emphasis classrooms demonstrated statistically higher task understanding, even when tasks were complex; more productive engagements in SRL; and higher achievement on writing tasks involving SRL. Also, their self-assessments of interest and task importance were reliably higher. Finally, learners in high emphasis classrooms were more likely to: express both positive and negative emotions, indicating a more nuanced awareness of affect during learning; use more words to describe their emotions (e.g., “I got a little frustrated … because it is hard for me to connect the sentences”); attribute negative affect to insufficient focus on learning or particular aspects of the writing task; and more adaptive strategies for coping (e.g., “asking for help from a friend”) than their peers in the low emphasis classrooms.
Few studies have explicitly linked formative assessments, particularly children’s self-assessments, during regularly occurring classroom activities to particular aspects of SRL. Our study does this. Moreover, our collaborations with teachers resulted in assessments for SRL that both supported teachers promoting SRL and children developing SRL, highlighting a significant role for formative assessment in the promotion of SRL.