Developmental level of self-regulatory skills in the workplace

Barry Zimmerman in his article Attaining self-regulation: A social congintive perspective argues that most skills (congnitive and motoric) are initially acquired by observing, reading, or hearing about the performance of skilled social models (teachers, experts, experienced peers, etc). He argues that the socially-conveyed skills become self-regulated through a series of levels. These developmental levels of regulatory skills are:

Level 1- Observation-Vicarious induction of a skill from a proficient model

Level 2 – Emulation-Imitative performance of the general pattern/style of a model’s skill with social assistance

Level 3-Self-control-Independent display of the model’s skill under sturctured conditions

Level 4 -Self-regulation-Adaptive use of skill across changing personal and environmental conditions

Zimmerman says that there is evidence that the speed and quality of the development of self-regulatory skills “can be enhanced significantly if learners proceed according to a multilevel developmental hierarchy” (p. 31). He then describes an unpublished study by Kistantas, Zimmerman and Cleary* who compared the development of dart skill by novices who learned initially from modelling (a skilled dart player demonstrated dart throwing strategies and provided feedback on a selective basis) with that of learners who initally learned from enactment.  The study found that learners who had the benefit of modelling “significantly surpassed the dart skill of those who attempted to learn from performance outcomes only” (p. 31). And “learners who received feedback learned better than those who practiced on their own, but the feedback was insufficient to make up for the absence of vicarious experience” (p.31). Learners exposed to strategic modelling “showed higher levels of self-motivation according to an array of measures such as self-efficacy and intrinsic interest than students who realied on discovery and social feedback” (p.32).

It would be interesting to conduct a similar study in the context of self-regulated learning in the workplace (non-instructional, non-formal learning), in addition to extending it to cognitive rather than only motoric skills.  It would also be interesting to study to what extent exerienced peers can facilitate development of self-regulatory skills in the workplace during levels 1-4.

* Kistantas, A., Zimmerman, B., & Cleary, T. (1999). Observation and imitation phases in the development of motoric self-regulation. Unpublished manuscript. Graduate School of the City University of New York.

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