Disciplinary differences in self-regulated learning in college students.

The personal attributes of self-regulated learning are often described in terms of knowledge base, adaptive motivational beliefs, and appropriate use of cognitive and metacognitive strategies for learning. These attributes are usually assumed to apply across all disciplines and contexts, but there has been little research that has examined the disciplinary differences in these personal attributes of self-regulated learning. The present study examined college students' knowledge, motivation, and self-regulatory learning strategies in humanities, social science, and natural science college courses. The sample included 380 college students from three different institutions. Students were given a measure of their course knowledge and a self-report measure of their motivational beliefs and use of self-regulatory strategies at the beginning and end of the semester. Three levels of achievement were created from final course grade and ANOVA's were used to examine the differences in knowledge, motivation, and self-regulation by achievement level and discipline. The results suggest that the components of knowledge, motivation, and self-regulation do distinguish high from low achievers in social and natural science courses, but not in the humanities courses. Results are discussed in terms of the generalizability of our models of self-regulated learning across disciplines and implications for measuring self-regulated learning in different disciplines.

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