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The secret of success

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

The key role of self-regulation in learning.


What do the following people have in common: Simon Cowell, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg?

They were all highly successful but, each person either failed at school, or dropped out of school or university. They didn’t have the greatest time in formal educational settings.

So what’s their secret for success?

Whether they knew it or not, each of these individuals were self-regulating in their learning pursuits, propelling them towards success in their respective fields.

Did you know?

Your ability to self-regulate your learning will predict your performance over and above your level of intelligence (IQ). That means that you can outperform someone who is smarter than you by learning to self-regulate your learning environment.

Why is Self-Regulated Learning a powerful ingredient for success?

  • Learners who develop skills of self-regulation including; self-control, self-discipline, perseverance and determination performed better post secondary school, compared to IQ as predictors of postsecondary academic success (Nilson, 2013).

  • Learners taught to self-regulate have a higher propensity to grow and change, and are less likely to buy into the notion of fixed intelligence (Dweck, 2007).

  • The ability to self-regulate predicted SAT scores more strongly than IQ, parental education, or parental economic status (Goleman, 1996).

  • Self-regulated learning can be developed through deliberate practices, and any learner can understand and develop this skill. Furthermore, it does not require any particular level of ability or intelligence (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1998).

Self-awareness (an ability of self-regulating learners), is an essential component of meaningful learning and knowledge transfer (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000).

  • Bandura (1997) discovered that children with greater self-regulation were able to learn more.

  • Schools serving high concentrations of low SES students recognised that, to enable students' to achieve academic success, they had to pay explicit attention to developing their ability to self-regulate (Le & Wolfe, 2013).

The solution

A core component of all of lifelong learning is developing the ability of student’s to self-regulate within their learning environment. Technology-based solutions provide tools and resources that make self-directed learning environments more accessible (Moyle, 2010). Technology solutions can assist in further supporting and nurturing the development of self-regulation through live and immediate feedback.

Using technology in this way places a higher emphasis on the perspective of the learner (Ferguson, 2012), as well as their autonomy within the learning environment. The focus enables the learner taking control of their learning context, and reflect on how they engage in a subject (Johnson, 2015). It encourages the development of learner-based reflection and the development of self-management, a core competency of the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum (Moyle, 2010).

To support the development of self-regulation in learning I Learn for Life collects data on the following core areas based on an iterative model of self-regulation (Winnie & Hadwin, 2008).

  • How a learner is managing their learning environment

  • Evaluating a learners mindset towards learning

  • Identifying a learners preferences for learning

  • Measuring and identifying successes and challenges in learning contexts.

Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different reflection make a different choice.


Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W. H. Freeman.

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, A. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Research Council, National Academy Press.

Chatti, M. A., Dyckhoff, A. L., Schroeder, U., & Thüs, H. (2012). A reference model for learning analytics. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 4(5), 318-331.

Dweck, C. S. (2007). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

Ferguson, R. (2012). Learning analytics: Drivers, developments and challenges. International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, 4(5/6), 304-317.

Goleman, D. (1996). Working with emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. London: Bloomsbury.

Le, C., & Wolfe, R. E. (2013). How can schools boost students' self-regulation? Teaching students how to take responsibility for their own effort can enable them to become more persistent and focused about learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 95(2), 33.

Moyle, K. (2010). Building innovation: Learning with technologies. Australian Education Review, 56.

Nilson, L. B. (2013). Creating self-regulated learners: Strategies to strengthen students' self-awareness and learning skills (First ed.). Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

Schunk, D. H., & Zimmerman, B. J. (Eds.). (1998). Self-regulated learning: From teaching to self-reflective practice. New York: Guilford Press.

Winne & Hadwin (2008). The weave of motivation and self-regulated learning in Schunk, D. H., & Zimmerman, B. J. (Eds). Motivation and self-regulated learning: Theory, research, and applications. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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