Pupils are expected to use effective self-regulation skills to take responsibility for their learning success. Since the 1990s this has been the guiding principle in the Norwegian school system. Yet a new doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that this idea falls flat on its face in real life since relatively few pupils are up for the task.
Since the 1990s, policy documents and visions in the Norwegian school system have largely been based on the idea of pupils and students at all levels taking responsibility for their own learning and skills. This guiding principle has even affected Norwegian architecture, since new and newly renovated schools have been designed like shopping malls or open office landscapes with a strong emphasis on visibility and transparency.
One-third do well
The author of the thesis Aud Torill Meland studied how students and teachers handle the task of self-regulated learning at the upper-secondary level, and found that only one-third of the students manage to successfully take responsibility for their own learning. A majority are partly successful and one student in seven is not unsuccessful at all.
'The results show that not all teachers are able to sufficiently support the students in this process. The teacher's support, expectations and engagement are crucial for the students' attitudes and motivation.'
Lack of tools
The teachers on the other hand feel that their hands are tied.
'They feel they are too busy trying to meet the national learning targets - there is not enough room for letting the students help plan the learning content as the policy documents say they should. Instead the teachers stick to the more traditional way of teaching.'
'The teachers emphasise that they haven't received the proper training or tools they need to successfully carry out their new task. Nobody seems to have explained how to facilitate student self-regulation,' says Aud Torill Meland.