Self-regulated learning in an online learning environment
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The past fifteen years witnessed meteoric growth in online learning, opening up numerous educational opportunities for people who otherwise might have little or no access to higher education. Online learning is also changing how people learn through its technological affordances that allow flexibility in place, time, and approaches to learning as well as access to unparalleled resources. However, these characteristics also present challenges for many learners who struggle to understand how to be successful in such environments. It is a common understanding that strategic, self-regulated learners are capable of utilizing both internal and external resources to optimize their learning experiences and maximize learning gains. With the widespread uptake of online learning in higher education, researchers have started to investigate possible connections between students’ self-regulatory learning skills and their online learning experiences. This educational design research study examined how graduate students with diverse professional and cultural backgrounds reported their deployment of self-regulatory processes and strategies under the influences of the unique characteristics of an online E-Learning Evaluation course. The study was guided by research questions on students’ motivation, self-regulatory processes and strategies, environmental influences, and course support. Data from multiple sources, including interviews, surveys, quizzes, online discussions, group projects, and course materials, were collected from sixteen students in two iterations of the course. The online course was redesigned based on the findings from the collected data over these two course iterations while at the same time the aforementioned questions concerning self-regulated learning were investigated. The results indicated that the students had mostly positive motivational beliefs and used a variety of motivational strategies to self-adjust in face of motivation changes during the course; students also applied various self-regulated learning strategies in meeting challenges inherent in the course; the contextual elements in the course impacted the students’ self-regulation in many ways; and revisions to course design appeared to improve the students’ learning experience from one iteration to another. Ten principles to guide online course design emerged from the overall educational design research effort, and implications for future research in online self-regulation were identified.