THIRD GRADERS’ SELF-REGULATION AND SELF EFFICACY IN A CONCEPT FORMATION TASK:
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LOW AND HIGH ACHIEVERS
UNIVERSITE DU QUEBEC A MONTREAL
SIR MORTIMER DAVIS—JEWISH GENERAL HOSPITAL
HELENE POISSANT AND MARIE-ODILE DADE
UNIVERSITE DU QUEBEC A MONTREAL
First, this study assesses the relationship between self-efficacy measurements (prediction of success and confidence in the result) and self-regulation measurements (monitoring of time, planning, and persistence) in relation with school achievement (low, high) of third graders. Second, it analyzes the allocation of different activities of self-regulation accross school achievement (low, high) of third graders. The 20 participants consisted of third grade students who were allocated to two groups (High Grade and Low Grade). No difference were found in the self-regulation and self-efficacy measurements. However, notable difference were noted in the completion of task and the different self-regulation activities as the High Grade group completed more tasks and the Low Grade group did more self-regulation activities. It is concluded that high achievers are more able to appreciate in a realistic manner their cognitive abilities in contrary to the low achievers who presented unrealistic appreciation of their own cognitive abilities. Moreover, the high achievers are also seen as more efficient as they are more sparing of activities of self-regulation.
Many researchers are now trying to link two traditionnaly different psychological domains (and sometimes opposite views and theories): Cognition and emotion. The former refers to concepts such as metacognition and cognitive monitoring or self-regulation, while the latter usually refers to motivation, affective needs, belief, attribution (internal or external), and self-efficacy feeling. An example of the link between cognition and emotion may be found in the following case. Children must first be motivated and willing to do a task (affective factors) before they decide to spend the necessary time and effort to exercise an adequate control over this task (cognitive factors).
This study focuses on two important aspects of cognition and emotion: self-regulation and self-efficacy. Self-regulation, which is often
associated with cognitive monitoring, relates to different types of mental activities that an individual may trigger to control and manage his/her own thinking process. It is considered to be more or less stable, possibly verbalizable, and task or situation dependant (Lafortune & St-Pierre, 1996). Self-regulation is divided into three sub-components or strategies: planification, control, and regulation. Planification refers to the way
individuals organize the incoming information after a previous task analysis. According to this definition, Schoenfeld (1987) found that novices spend less time than experts in planification strategies elaboration when asked to solve a mathematical problem. Control strategies allow
individuals to examine and collect information about their ongoing cognitive activity. Thus, it permits to check what they are doing, to verify their progress, and to assess the relevance of their strategies as well as the results attained with these strategies (Kluwe, 1987). Finally, regulation refers to decisions individuals take after having made a control over their cognitive activities. More precisely, regulation relates to: (1) the sum of effort individuals decide to invest in a given task and to the way they decide to portion out this effort (regulation of capacity of processing), (2) the way to address a given content depending on its difficulty level or its importance (regulation about the content of information) or both, (3) the
persistence (in duration) individuals are willing to give for a task (regulation in the intensity of processing), and (4) the speed at which individuals decide to process information (regulation in the speed of processing).
On the other hand, self-efficacy is described as the judgment individuals have about themselves concerning their own abilities to deal with an intellectual, social, affective or even physical situation (Bandura, 1977). Another definition of self-regulation is that it is the result of a
global assessment process made by individuals. This global assessment by individuals contains three main aspects: (1) the evaluation about the requirements of a given task, (2) the evaluation of their own resources, and (3) the evaluation of their own capacity to use adequately their resources for the specific task. Self-efficacy feeling is not always rational but its
impact on learning may be important (Bouffard-Bouchard, Parent, & Larivée, 1993; Bouffard-Bouchard & Pinard, 1988). The question that arises here is why some students spontaneously do have adequate study behaviors and do self-regulation while others fail to do so. A part of the answer seems to lie in the affective elements that surround the cognitive activity. For example, Bouffard-Bouchard and Pinard (1988) found that the way college students perceive themselves as learners (good learners or bad learners) has an impact on self-regulation, namely persistence, and planification activities, and so eventually on their performance. According to Bouffard-Bouchard and Pinard (1988), affective factors are a prerequisite for an efficient (meta-)cognitive activity. This means that affective factors determine if an individual or a child will use or not his/her metacognitive knowledge and self-regulation strategies.
First, this study assesses the relationship between self-efficacy measurements (prediction of success and confidence in the result) and self-regulation measurements (monitoring of time, planning, and persistence) in relation with school achievement (low, high) of third graders. Second, it analyzes the allocation of different activities of self-regulation accross school achievement (low, high) of third graders.
Twenty third grade children participated in this study. The children
were allocated to a High Grades Group (N = 10) or a Low Grades Group
(N = 10) in function of their school marks.
The participants were confronted to four similar concept-formation tasks (adapted from Bouffard-Bouchard et al., 1993). Each concept-formation task consisted to discover a specific target concept in order to replace an imaginary word (e.g., INALU) that appears seven times in a short paragraph. The sentences in the paragraph were always placed in the same order and the paragraphs were presented in the same order to the participants who had to read them. Prior to the experimental concept-formation tasks, each participant had two familiarization tasks that were similar to the other four experimental tasks. Before the reading of the first sentence in each task (familiarization and experimental), the experimenter asked the child to predict his success or failure (yes or no answer) as well as to predict the level of certainty in his/her own success on a 5-point scale. During each of the tasks, the experimenter took note of the following self-regulation measurements: (1) monitoring of time, i.e., the child is checking the time by glancing at a watch or is asking about the time remaining; (2) planning, i.e., the child is reading all seven sentences of the paragraph before attempting to solve the task (find a concept); and (3) persistence, i.e., the child is using all of the allocated time and/or accept additional time offered. After the completion of each of the tasks, the experimenter asked the child to rate its level of certainty in the success of the task on a 5-point scale (confidence in response). In addition, the whole procedure
was recorded on audiotape for later codification of the activities of self-
regulation by two trained research assistants.
The Grid of Activities of Self-Regulation (GASR) adapted from
Bouffard-Bouchard (1987) is an evaluative grid composed of 12 differents mutually exclusive activities of self-regulation used to codify the verbatim of the participants. The categories that encompass those elements are: (1) cognitive strategies of problem-solving that pertain to words (association, characterization, exploration); (2) cognitive strategies of problem-solving that pertain to sentences (conceptualization, normalization, reasonning, signification); and (3) supervision of the problem solving process by using planning activities (work organization), control of progress toward the objective (provisional evaluation), end-task decisions (provisional withdrawal), final verification (final verification), and persistence (acceptance of overtime). The aggreement for the different GASR activities between two raters is satisfactory, percentage of aggreement = 92.2% and ； = .89.
GROUP DIFFERENCES IN SELF-REGULATION MEASUREMENTS
The participants from the High Grades Group (M = 1.80, SD = 0.42)
employed more monitoring of time during their tasks, F(1, 18) = 7.58, p
= .01, than their counterparts of the Low Grades Groups (M = 1.00, SD =
0.82). The planning activity during the execution of the tasks was not
statistically different, F(1, 18) = 1.00, p = .33, between the High Grades Group (M = 1.00, SD = 0.47) and the Low Grades Group (M = 0.70, SD =
0.82). As for the persistence for using all of the allocated time during the
execution of the tasks, no significant statistical difference, F(1, 18) = 1.80,
p = .20, is noted between the High Grades Group (M = 0.70, SD = 0.82)
and the Low Grades Group (M = 1.10, SD = 0.74). In addition, there was no statistical difference, F(1, 18) = 0.45, p = .51, between the participants of the High Grades Group (M = 0.60, SD = 0.52) and those of the Low Grades Group (M = 0.80, SD = 0.79) in acceptance of additional time offered.