Posted by: mvanboekel | November 5, 2011

Rumination and the self-regulated learning (SRL) process

Academic success has been linked to the ability to self-regulate your learning.  If you are ruminating your ability to regulate your learning will be undermined.  Research has found that positive emotions related to achievement are correlated with academic performance, and increased motivation.

What is self-regulated learning?

Self-regulated learning can be thought of as an active process involving monitoring, evaluating and regulating your learning (and thinking), motivation and behaviour.  This process can be represented as a recursive cycle comprised of four stages.  The first stage involves becoming familiar with the task.  The better task understanding a person has the better goals and plans the learner can set.  The learner than applies strategies in order to meet those goals.  Students will then examine their progress metacognitively (thinking about their thinking/strategy  use)  keeping in mind future, related tasks.   Throughout the four phases students are constantly monitoring their progress, looking for feedback, and adapting their goals, strategy choice, etc. as needed.

How does rumination impact your ability to regulate your learning?

When an individual is ruminating their thoughts regarding the failure are uncontrollable and persistent.  As discussed on the previous page on rumination; the act of rumination is accompanied by a host of maladaptive responses.   The central component of the SRL cycle is the ability to monitor the learning process.  When an individual is ruminating, their ability to monitor is undermined.  It has been shown that when ruminating, individuals are more likely to focus on and recall negative events.  This bias for the recall of negative events will make it very difficult to monitor progress because ruminators will likely to focus on the negative feedback, dwelling on the consequences of doing poorly rather than using the feedback proactively to help guide them to success on future tasks.


Not only will ruminating effect your ability to monitor your learning, but it will also significantly impact your ability to engage in the SRL cycle.  After receiving negative feedback ruminators often find it very difficult to develop a strategic plan that help them to move on from that failure.  Not only that, when ruminating, even if a plan is created, individuals find it very difficult to put that plan into action.    If an individual’s ability to set and enact goals are inhibited by ruminating, their ability to regulate their learning is also impaired.   One of the phases of the SRL cycle is being able to adapt and regulate their learning within a given task.  When ruminating due to a failure, individuals often become inflexible with their strategy choice, and tend to employ the same strategy repeatedly even if it is not working resulting in continued failure (and likely continued rumination). 

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Therefore, it is essential that one deals with their rumination, in order to overcome the roadblocks that inhibit one’s ability to regulate their learning.   Continue to read through this posting to determine if you have ruminative tendencies, and if you do, how to move forward and by learning how to regulate your emotions effectively.

NEXT PAGE: Do I have ruminative tendencies?

BACK TO: Dealing with negative feedback-overview

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