Literacy 7-12

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Literacy 7-12 > Factors > Self-regulation


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Self-regulation skills help students concentrate on learning. Self-regulation is the ability to alter and regulate our thoughts, behavioral responses, and emotions.

Main Ideas

Self-regulation includes altering behavioral responses and aligning them with standards, such as social expectations. Students who can successfully self-regulate their behaviors accomplish this by monitoring and inhibiting actions or impulses. It is important to note that the perception of appropriate behavior in schools may be dictated by dominant social norms in a culture and may not match students' own cultural norms, attitudes, and beliefs.

Self-regulation can be broken down into three main components:

  • Cognitive regulation involves using Attention and executive functions (i.e., Working Memory, Inhibition, Cognitive Flexibility) to inhibit impulses and attend to tasks.
  • Behavioral regulation refers to the ability to adjust one's behavior in order to meet the norms of a given context.
  • Emotion regulation (part of the Emotion factor) refers to the ability to manage emotional arousal. It also allows for cognitive reappraisal such as re-framing events and thoughts to change one's emotional reaction to them.

This type of self-discipline is one of the strongest predictors of academic outcomes in adolescents who typically face greater expectations for academic success and more intense, often self-directed, instruction types than in elementary school. Students with weaker Self-regulation skills are at greater risk for low academic achievement and emotional and conduct problems, which can lead to higher dropout rates in adolescence. Students of color and those with disabilities are also at greater risk of disciplinary actions such as suspension for what is perceived as disruptive behavior. As a result, educators and students may benefit from culturally-responsive and inclusive training addressing self-regulation.

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