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  • Writer's pictureTom Economou

Self-regulated learning in Flanders - How SLIDEshow directly impacts about 1000 Flemish schools

by Jeltsen Peeters,


With the SLIDEshow project soon coming to an end, it is a great time to look back and reflect on the impact the project had on school practice. We'd like to do so by presenting how self-regulated learning - under the impulse of the SLIDEshow project - succeeded in becoming one of the major strategic objectives of GO! - Education of the Flemish Community.

As an official partner in the tMAIL project, GO! has been involved in the work on self-regulated learning since the very beginning of the SLIDEshow partnership. Hence, self-regulated learning has been on our radar for quite some time. Self-regulated learning was most pronounced in our innovative schools who started to experiment with more personalised formats of education and were faced with challenges when providing students with higher levels of autonomy.

A crucial element in our strategic plan for 2030

In 2018-2019 and after a profound consultation round involving all levels of our educational network, GO! designed and presented GO!2030, our new policy plan outlining the priorities for the next 10 years. Together with stakeholders representing all of our approximately 1000 schools, we came to the following ambition:By 2030, GO! wants to be everybody's favourite personalized learning community, reflecting and building society. In order to reach such an ambition, we studied the concept of personalized learning and combined insights from both research and practice. Insights from both domains pointed to one very important building block: self-regulated learning. Immediately, self-regulated learning became one of the main topics on policy agendas and in discussions between school leaders and policy makers at various levels.How does self-regulated learning relate to personalised learning?If we look back at the way in which education has formulated an answer to the growing diversity of (learning) needs in the classroom over the past decades, we can roughly distinguish three trends. You can place them on a continuum.

Firstly, you have individualised learning in which the learner is given an individually mapped out path. This approach departs entirely from the teacher and often leads to individual learning. It is thus considered to be teacher-centered.

Secondly, you have differentiated learning in which the teacher groups learners in order to be able to work more tailor-made. Compared to individualised learning, differentiated learning is characterised by social learning. Differentiated learning can be seen as a learner-centred approach.

Thirdly, you have personalized learning in which the learner is not only central, but above all gradually gains ownership of the own learning process. Compared to differentiated learning, personalised learning adds the support of students' self-regulated learning skills while still including the social learning component. Therefore, if GO! schools opt for a transformation towards personalised learning, it means that they will explicitly support their students' self- and co-regulated learning skills.For the implementation of personalized learning within GO! we explicitly push the support of students' self-regulated skills, as well as their social alternatives (co- and socially shared regulation of learning). We provide some insights into our arguments.First, the attention to learners' self-regulated learning skills is the discriminating factor between personalized learning at the one hand, and differentiated and individualized learning on the other hand (Jones & McLean, 2018). Second, meta-studies and school effectiveness research show that self-regulated learning skills (including metacognition) are very strong predictors of academic performance (Hattie, 2012). In addition, the support of self-regulated learning is one of the most scientifically underpinned interventions to increase learning gains (Education Endownment Foundation, 2019). Third, strengthening the learning competences of learners can be seen as one of the core tasks of good education (Simons & Masschelein, 2019). Self-regulated learning skills are the competences par excellence to teach learners to learn. Moreover, these skills are generic, which implies that self-regulated learning skills can equally be used to achieve goals related to academic performance, well-being, social-emotional purposes, etc. The skill to engage in lifelong learning is therefore a crucial 21st century skill. Fourth,the model of self-regulated learning - through its focus on both behavior, (meta)cognition, emotion and motivation - makes it possible to approach learning in its complexity and comprehensiveness. Finally, focusing on self-regulated learning skills enables us to transcend tensions between (radical) cognitivist and (radical) social-constructivist approaches.

After all, self-regulated learning skills are crucial in both acquiring and (co-)constructing knowledge.What's next?

In the aftermath of the first covid-19 lockdown the importance of developing strong self-regulated learners became even clearer, especially to teachers and parents. The differences between students are big, as are the differences in parents and teachers in how they support studens' self-regulated learning skills.Based on the insights gained and products produced in the tMAIL and SLIDEshow projects, the in-service teacher training department of GO! is now studying how to further support schools in implementing practices and policies that support students' self-regulated learning. It will combine both professional development initiatives as well as the sharing and co-designing of self-regulated learning practices. Co- and socially shared regulated learning skills will be equally important in GO!s self-regulated learning strategy.

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