Implementing Self-Regulation and Self-Monitoring in the Classroom

What is Self-Regulation?

“Teachers, and particularly teachers of students with emotional/behavioral disorders, are increasingly faced with challenges, regarding the instruction and management of their students" Sutherland, 2002, p. 110).  Singer and Bashir (1999) state in their article that self-regulation is considered a “meta” construct that is specifically defined as “a set of behaviors that are used flexibly to guide, monitor, and direct the success of one’s performance" Singer & Bashir, 1999, p.265).  They support that self-regulation is co-constructed with social interactions.  Therefore, self-regulation occurs within settings in which a student is engaged in task performance.  It is also a result of personal process, the environment, and one’s own behaviors.  The process of self-regulation includes three sub-processes:  self-monitoring, self-evaluation, and behavioral adjustment.  Self-regulation can be seen in how students prepare for learning, stay engaged in tasks, and differ their problem solving approaches. 

What is Self-Monitoring?

            “Self-Monitoring is the process of having individuals record data regarding their own behavior for the purpose of changing its rate” (Coleman& Webber, 2002, p.103).  Self-Monitoring can contribute to the success of staying on task and task completion during reading, writing, and math.  Students are taught the skills necessary to observe their own behavior and record if a targeted behavior occurred.  There are a number of ways students can record their data.  Some ways include:  1) check marks  2)  hash marks  3)  answering yes and no questions  4)  circling numbers and 5)  coloring boxes in on a grid.  Direct instruction, modeling, and practice and feedback are generally used to teach students self-monitoring procedures.  “Research indicates that self-monitoring has consistently produced outcomes of improved academic performance and classroom behavior”  (Coleman& Webber, 2002, p.106).   The purpose of the information given in this paper is to:  1) give teachers some evidence and examples of how and why these self-monitoring and self-regulation interventions work. 2)  give teachers information about what interventions should include 3)  how to train students in these skills and 4)  teacher implications. 

Comparing self-monitoring and group monitoring    

The ability to interact with peers is a basic skill (Gumpel and Golan, 2000).  According to Gumpel and Golan, social skills are shaped by ones environment.  They examined an alternative model to social skills and social competence.  They compared the use of two behavioral monitoring systems:  1) self-monitoring and 2) group monitoring while playing board games.  Self-monitoring skills fall under the general rubric of self-management.  They assessed whether socially inappropriate behaviors were absent do to the fact that they were lacking the social skills or whether training in the behavioral monitoring skills would bring out the skills from the person’s repertoire.  They came to the conclusion that using methods that would increase self-regulation, the social skills training could be conducted successfully.  The two types of training that they used were self-recording and group monitoring.  They found that self-recording increased appropriate behaviors and decreased inappropriate behaviors.  Gumpel and Golan believed that once students were trained to attend to their behavior that the skills would maintain.  They also accept that the researchers in the field of emotional behavioral disorders and learning disabilities have focused on these metacognitive skills to improved academic achievement. 

Self-Monitoring Plus Encouragement

            Hutchinson, Murdock , Williamson, and Cronin (2000), found the effects of using encouragement and self-monitoring together as an intervention as within the study of a six -year old African American boy named George, who was identified as emotionally disturbed and behavior disordered and was having problems in his classroom.  The problems occurred during the boy’s advanced reading group, which took place an hour each day.  The teacher described the boy as being too hyper and wanted to take him out of the group.  The teacher described his disruptive behaviors as: 1) taking 2-3 minutes to start an activity after she already asked him, 2) generally being off task, 3) hitting and kicking his peers, and 4) talking and singing aloud out of his seat.  The intervention required teaching George the use of the self-management technique of self-monitoring, and combining this with encouragement by using points and praise.  Teacher praise was defined as, the teacher’s verbal approval of his behaviors.  For example the teacher may say, “I am proud of you.  You are a great kid, George!”  George was given one point for each of his non-disruptive behavior during reading hour.  George’s grandmother redeemed his points.  George filled out a self-recording form that was established as a letter to his grandmother.  He checked off each of the tasks that he successfully completed that day during reading hour.  For each box that he checked per day, he received a point.  The researcher’s data showed that George’s off task behaviors were better during the intervention of using self-monitoring and encouragement from the teacher.  A factor that affects the academic development of students with emotional/behavioral disorders is the interactions between the students and their teachers (Sutherland, 2000).  It is unfortunate that studies show that although teacher encouragement is effective for increasing academic and social outcomes, teachers rarely use it in their classrooms.  By using self-monitoring plus encouragement as a direct intervention, teachers will increase the number of desired outcomes. 

Using Self-regulation As An Intervention in Communication Skills

            Singer and Bashir (1999) designed a more self-regulated approach in dealing with oral and written communication.  They implemented the intervention on George, a sixteen year old, Junior in high school with some speech-language evaluation.  Singer and Bashir feel that strategies for speaking and writing are correlated with the three sub-processes of self-regulation.  George could learn to recognize the feelings that he experienced when dealing with ineffective verbal expression such as anxiety, louder volume, and pitch.  George employed self-reflection and self-evaluation strategies.  Singer and Bashir encouraged him to apply his flexibility.  This meant that George could select a strategy based on the demands of the situation and his experiences at the time, as a speaker.  George’s ability to become more self-regulated progressed rapidly.  By the end of the school year he was experiencing success with his oral and written expression in both English and History.  George’s expression was relaxed, fluent, organized, coherent, and intelligent. 

The Good Student Game

              “The Good Student Game is an effective classroom management tool appropriate for meeting the diverse needs of today’s classroom teachers”(Babyak, Luze, & Kamps, 2000, p.216).   The Good Student game allows the students to self- monitor.  Teachers who are already feel the classroom pressures may prefer student self-monitoring instead of teacher self-monitoring.  The Good Student Game provides opportunities for student to assess their own behavior.  This game is designed for elementary classrooms during independent work time.  Teachers should play this game at least once per day.  The classroom is divided into teams, when a student breaks a rule the teacher puts a mark under the team’s name.  Any team with fewer marks than was established at the beginning receives rein forcers.  Teachers can make this game more successful by:  making sure that target behaviors are stated, reasonable goals are set, there are clear start and finish times, appropriate intervals are used, and the teacher provides feedback to the students. 

Training Students To Use These Skills

            Training children in self-monitoring can be done in Middle School as part of their regular curriculum leading to improvements in their use of these processes (Zimmerman, 1996).  Students can regulate greater control over how learning situations turn out.  A study done by Nicaise and Gettinger (1994 sited in Zimmerman 1996) involved how a psychologist’s intervention involving four social cognitive phases of self-regulation could be used as a tool to teach reading strategies to four students experiencing comprehension problems.  Students met with an instructor who modeled four comprehension strategies:  predicting what is likely to happen next in the text, clarifying difficulties occurring during reading, summarizing, and setting reading goals.  All four participants gained from the intervention.  The students found the intervention to be effective.  The results show that when goals are set and strategies are taught through modeling and then monitored under the student’s perceptions and conditions, their enjoyment regarding the task was enhanced. 

Benefits of Using Self-monitoring and Self-regulation

            Research has documented improved outcomes for self-management components including:  self-instruction, self-reinforcement, and self-monitoring (McDougall, 1998).   Individual studies have varied improved outcomes in:  time-on-task, on-task behavior, classroom disruptions, and independent performance.  Researchers observed and cited benefits for teaching students self-management processes in general and special education settings, these included:  increase in students self-reliance, decreasing students reliance on parents, teachers, and care takers and, allowing teachers to spend less time on classroom management and more on instructional tasks. 

Before Implementing These Iterventions

There are things that teachers need to know before implementing an intervention.  The most important issue is that they must understand the student’s abilities.  A student interview should be conducted to gain information about problems that the student has with communication and academic performance.  Present these problems with the student.  Use the information that is obtained by the assessments to help the student acknowledge the influence of different settings.  Discuss the student’s strengths.  Assist the student in recognizing how the intervention will enhance his or her daily performance.  Have the student commit to achieving the goals set for the intervention (Singer and Bashir, 1999). 

Components of an Intervention

            There are five components to an intervention (Singer & Bashir, 1999).  1) the goals need to be designed to address self-regulatory and strategic needs of the student  2) goals should not be isolated from the day-to-day demands for communication and learning that the students encounter  3) help the students understand where, when, why, and how to use the strategies and teach the students to recognize which tasks require self-regulatory behaviors 4) support the students to find strategies that help fit their own style and needs 5) set up conferences with them in order to appraise their growth and set goals according to these growths.  

SPIN- A teacher implication

            With any intervention, teachers need to monitor the impact on the behaviors that were targeted.  Curriculum based assessment (CBA) is one way of monitoring the students performance (King-Sears & Bonfils, 1999)..  CBA consists of frequently collected data graphically displayed providing a visual decision, allowing the teacher to indicate whether the intervention is working or not.  SPIN was a sequence that was described by King-Sears and Bonfils used as a self-management instruction sequence.  

The steps in SPIN include:  selecting the student’s behavior that is targeted for self-management, prepare materials and lesson plans for self-management, then instruct the student using a 10-step process, and note the effectiveness.

Step one in the 10 step process involves identifying examples of the targeted behavior.  In step two the benefits of using self-management are described.  Step three requires students to participate in practicing the target behavior.  In step four the self-management device is shown to the student for the first time.  Step five involves the teacher modeling how to use the self-management device.  Step six provides guided practice within role-playing situations.  In step seven the student’s mastery of the use of the self-management device is assessed.  In step eight students are reminded of both the specific class period in which they would begin using the device and the date when they would begin using the device.  Step nine involves the independent use of the device in the actual setting. And in step ten the teacher assesses if the students are using the device accurately. 

Conclusion-Final Note For Teachers

            It is important for teachers to realize what self-regulation and self-monitoring are.  It is also important for them to realize how they can use these in their classrooms as interventions.  Teachers should know about training their students in these skills.  It is important for teachers to be able to collect data on whether or not their chosen interventions are producing successful outcomes.


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