From self-regulation to learning to learn: observations on the construction of self and learning

Ernst D. Thoutenhoofd, Anne Pirrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this article is to clarify the epistemological basis of self-regulated learning. The authors note that learning to learn, a term that has pervaded education policy at EU and national levels in recent years is often conflated with self-regulated learning. As a result, there has been insufficient attention paid to learning as social performance and to a more nuanced conceptualisation of agency. A review of the literature on self-regulated learning suggests that self-regulated learning is behaviour that is oriented towards the optimal execution of predefined tasks. The authors suggest that the consequences of this are a resolute focus on the individual learner and a striking denial of learning as social performance. They trace the origins of self-regulated learning to ad-hoc combinations of behaviourism and cognitive psychology and explore the consequences of this for the way in which learning to learn is conceptualized. They argue that a reflexive social epistemology is a necessary counterweight to the systematic neglect of learning as a social process that has resulted from the psychological turn in learning theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-84
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number1
Early online date22 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


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