Learning online: Understanding academic success from a self-regulated learning perspective

Date of Completion

January 2008


Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Cognitive




A central challenge for educational psychology today is to better understand the nature of online teaming (Bernard et al., 2004). Using a social cognitive view of self-regulated learning (Pintrich, 2000b; Zimmerman, 2000a), this study examined the relations between students' motivational beliefs (self-efficacy and task value), negative achievement emotions (boredom and frustration), and several measures of academic success in a self-paced online course. Additionally, this study explored the extent to which students' thoughts, feelings, and actions are associated with the nature of the online course and how that course relates to them personally. ^ Service academy undergraduates (N = 481) completed a questionnaire following online learning. Results indicated that students' beliefs and emotions were related to several adaptive outcomes. In particular, findings from several hierarchical multiple regressions revealed that task value beliefs were the strongest and most consistent positive predictors of elaboration, metacognition, and satisfaction; whereas self-efficacy beliefs were moderately strong positive predictors of satisfaction and continuing motivation only. On the other hand, students' boredom and frustration were statistically significant predictors of metacognition, with boredom emerging as a negative predictor and frustration unexpectedly emerging as a positive predictor. Furthermore, both boredom and frustration were negatively related to satisfaction and continuing motivation. Finally, results from a logistic regression analysis indicated that students with career aspirations directly related to the course content were more likely to report greater perceptions of task value and greater use of metacognitive control strategies than students with career aspirations indirectly related to the course. ^ Taken together, results from this study provide some insight into the complex relations between personal, behavioral, and environmental influences on self-regulated learning and overall academic success in an online course. Notwithstanding methodological limitations, these findings largely support the existing literature on self-regulation in traditional, classroom-based contexts (e.g., Pekrun, Goetz, Titz, & Perry, 2002; Pintrich, 1999). Furthermore, these results offer important theoretical and empirical extensions of academic self-regulation by illustrating that several processes and interrelations are equally robust in self-paced online learning situations. Implications for the theory, research, and practice of academic self-regulation and online learning are discussed, as are study limitations and future directions. ^