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 He then describes an unpublished study by Kistantas, Zimmerman and Cleary* who compared the development of dart skill by novices who learned initially from modelling (a skilled dart player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.

Book on work-based learning published

My book “Work-based learning: A blend of pedagogy and technology” has been published by VDM Verlag.  It is based on my PhD research at Shell EP in the Netherlands in 2002-2005.

Global socio-economic changes are transforming workplaces. Organisations require employees skilled in strategic problem-solving; learning quickly in response to rapidly changing environment; working in distributed, culturally-diverse teams; building knowledge from different sources and applying it in a flexible way. The new workplace demands are in sharp contrast with the traditional ways of learning and teaching. The assumption that these highly complex skills can be learned in traditional formal learning settings focused on transferring content from experts to novices is no longer tenable. It is equally untenable that the knowledge and skills for effective performance in the workplace can be picked up from experienced peers or coaches in informal learning settings alone. New learning approaches enabling integration of the worlds of learning and work are needed. This book describes a new model for technology-enhanced work-based learning.The model aims to support managers, instructors and learning designers in organisations in devising strategy and curriculum for learning; in developing course design, evaluation and assessment processes; and in capturing and sharing good practice in learning within organisation.  The model was implemented at Shell EP Netherlands. The book is addressed to researchers and practitioners in work-related and technology-enhanced learning.

Table of Contents (high level)

List of Figures

List of Tables


Introduction: Work and Learning.

1. Work-Based Learning in Organisations.

1.1. Current challenges faced by organisations

1.2. Characteristics of work-based learning.

1.3. Work-based learning: Link between formal and informal learning.

1.4. Work-based activities as vehicles for integration of work and learning.

1.5. Technology affordances

2. Activity Theory: A Holistic Framework for Work-Based Learning.

2.1. Socio-cultural perspectives of learning.

2.2. Activity systems

2.3. Technology-enhanced work-based learning as an activity system.

3. Reference Model for Work-Based Learning.

3.1. Concretising work-based learning activity system instruments for implementation in practice.

3.2. First Principles of Instruction.

3.3. First Principles of Instruction extended.

4 Context of the Study: Shell Exploration and Production.

4.1. Shell Exploration and Production Learning and Leadership Development

4.2. Organisational needs for new forms of learning: The EP Learning Strategy.

4.3. Work-based blended learning in Shell EP LLD.

4.4. Technology for learning support at Shell EP LLD.

4.5. Work-based learning in Shell EP LLD as an activity system. 59

5. Investigation and Applications of the First Principles Plus Reference Model at Shell EP LLD

5.1. Methodology for investigating and applying the Reference Model

5.2. Investigations of the local elements of the Reference Model

5.3. Course scan: An instrument to measure the elements of the Reference Model

5.4. Application 1: Support for organisational learning strategy and across-course consistency.

5.5. Application 2: Support for after-action reviews and reflection within a faculty.

5.6. Application 3: Support for course evaluation procedures

5.7. Synthesis and guidelines

5.8. Conceptual reflections

5.9. Next steps: Capturing and sharing good practices in implementation of Reference Model

6. Design and Development of the “Work-based Learning Practices Worth Replication” Digital Repository.

6.1. Design methodology and procedures

6.2. Design, development, and evaluation of the repository: First cycle.

6.3. Design, development, and evaluation of the repository: Second cycle.

6.4. Design, development, and evaluation of the repository: Third cycle.

7. Conclusions.

7.1. Research questions revisited.

7.2. Conceptual contributions

7.3. Contributions to practice.

7.4. Future research.



Appendix 1. Course Analysis Spreadsheet

Appendix 2. Course Scan Instrument

Appendix 3. P-310 course evaluation data.

Appendix 4. Guidelines for implementation of the Reference Model

Appendix 5. WBL-PWR repository, Prototype 3, July 18, 2005.

Appendix 6. Evaluation of the third prototype: Questionnaire.