Self-Management of Learning: What It Is, Necessary Characteristics and Examples

The self-management of learning , also called self-regulated, self-managed or self-management learning, is the active and constructive process by which students establish and work towards learning goals through the monitoring, regulation and control of motivation, cognition and behavior.

In other words, it is understood that the student manages all these aspects of himself to achieve the objectives that have been proposed and, in addition, the objectives are also fed back with personal aspects of the student. Therefore, it is a dynamic process in which the different components influence each other.

Self-management of learning

The study of self-management of learning is complex, because it has been a concept built from contributions from various theories of educational psychology and over many years.


    • 0.1 Motivation
    • 0.2 Self-regulatory attributes
    • 0.3 Self-regulating processes
  • 1 Self-managed learning models
  • 2 Phases prior to self-management of learning
    • 2.1 Importance of accompaniment
  • 3 References

What is self-management learning?

The process of self-learning is a dynamic process that implies that the student is active in the cognitive (and metacognitive), motivational and behavioral field in their own learning.

To understand this definition of self-learning, we must first know the subcomponents within it:


It is the central concept of the model and corresponds to the self-generated energy (force, intensity and persistence) that directs the behavior toward an objective.

Self-regulatory attributes

Personal learning characteristics of the student (self-efficacy, self-awareness and recursion).

Self-regulating processes

Student learning processes: attributions, goals and monitoring.

Self-managed learning models

Different models have been proposed to explain self-management of learning. Some of these models are the following:

- Model of processes and underlying skills of McCombs.

- Four-stage model of self-regulated learning of Winne and Hadwin.

- Metacognitive-motivational model.

- Model of the motivational and cognitive components of García and Pintrich.

- Heuristic model of self-regulated learning of Boekaerts.

- Structure of the cyclic phases and subprocesses of the self-regulated learning of Schunck and Zimmerman.

However, there are some points that are key and that share these models on how this type of self-learning should focus.

On the one hand, the protagonism of the student stands out, since it is he who really controls the process of self-management of his learning.

On the other hand, it highlights the dynamism of the process, in which the different components influence each other and feed each other.

Characteristics necessary for self-management of learning

- First, the student must have an interest in learning an information or mastering a skill (goal and self-motivation).

- Must have a perspective of the causes and results of the process (attributions) and the ability to monitor the process (self-monitoring).

- Must have positive beliefs about self (self-efficacy), awareness of their learning process (self-awareness) and control the resources available to them for learning (recursion).

- The student must take a series of choices to reach that goal independently and proactively. For example, choices about how to participate in the process, about your chosen learning strategy and when you think you have achieved the goal.

- If the student finds problems, he can carry out different readjustments. For example, you can adjust the goals, change them for others or even abandon them, and you could also change the study strategy.

Phases prior to self-management of learning

In order to become self-regulated, the student has had to comply with a series of stages or previous phases regarding the development of their cognitive abilities applied to learning.

In the first place, the student will have to observe an expert model, who will show him how to perform that skill or capacity that he seeks to teach.

Next, the student must imitate this model person, who will feed the apprentice.

Third, the student will learn to perform the activity learned by himself, but still in a rigid form and attached to what he learned initially from the expert.

Finally, the student will be able to self-regulate, being able to adapt what he has learned to different contexts and changes in the environment. Also, you can do it more automatically.

Examples of self-management of learning

A student who self-regulates their learning will be one who has a clear vision of their goal, who can determine what they need to learn and how to control their learning environment.

The student must execute his plan and know how to ask for help, follow up on his process and, finally, evaluate if he is progressing towards the established goal.

For example, if a self-regulated student decides to study a topic for a class, there are several things to consider:

- Have a desire to learn the content (motivation).

- Establish a specific objective:"I want to understand these 4 topics well for November". This is the setting of goals.

- Have in mind the previous similar situations in which he was successful:"I can do this if I try, as I did in the previous course". This corresponds to self-efficacy and internal control attributions.

- Be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and know how to adjust their strategy for this:"I am easily distracted when there is noise, so I will study in the library better". This responds to self-awareness and choices regarding the learning strategy.

- Knowing where to look for help if you need it:"I'm not understanding this part, I'm going to ask the professor for a tutor". This would be recursion and also self-awareness of the process.

- Plan how to reach that goal and how to monitor the process:"I will test myself regularly with practice exams to see how I am going with the content of the topics".

- Go track the process:"The practice exams are not giving the results I expected, I'm not going at a good pace. What can I do to improve this? I have noticed that when I study at night I do not concentrate as much as in the afternoon; I could try to change this." This is monitoring.

- If necessary, you should adjust the initial goal:"After seeing my progress, I think it is not realistic to learn this number of topics for November, so I will change the deadline."

Importance of accompaniment

It is important to emphasize that the process not only depends on the student, and the teacher can also influence to maintain or encourage motivation in the student, serve as a model and give constant feedback, among other forms of accompaniment.


  1. Çakir, R., Korkmaz, Ö., Bacanak, A. and Arslan, Ö. (2016). An Exploration of the Relationship between Students' Preferences for Formative Feedback and Self-Regulated Learning Skills. Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 4 (4) pp. 14-30.
  2. Schunk, D. (2005). Self-Regulated Learning: The Educational Legacy of Paul R. Pintrich. Educational Psychologist , 40 (2), pp. 85-94.
  3. Schunk, D.H. and Zimmerman, B.J. (1997). Social origins of self-regulatory competence. Educational Psychologist , 32, pp. 195-208.
  4. Smith, P. (2001). Understanding self-regulated learning and its implications for accounting educators and researchers. Issues in Accounting Education, 16 (4), pp. 663 - 700.
  5. Suárez, R. J. M. and Fernández, S. A. P. (2016). Self-regulated learning: strategic, motivational, evaluation and intervention variables. Madrid: UNED.

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