Self-Regulated Learning in Undergraduate Science


  • Nathan Higgins The University of Melbourne
  • Sarah Frankland The University of Melbourne
  • Joseph Rathner The University of Melbourne



Undergraduate science courses are particularly challenging for students transitioning into university. The departure from supportive high school environments can be difficult for students lacking self-directed and self-motivated learning skills. Many high-achieving school graduates entering higher education are surprised to discover they are ill-prepared to be accountable for their learning (Stanton et al., 2015). Over the past two decades, there has been a mounting interest in the pedagogical approaches aimed at equipping students with the capabilities of a lifelong learner (Australian Qualifications Framework, 2013; Oliver & Jorre de St Jorre, 2018; Boud & Dochy, 2010). Consequently, research efforts in higher education have attempted to identify the behavioural strategies and motivational states associated with academic success. Self-regulated learning (SRL) is an umbrella term encompassing the independent and self-directed strategies that allow students to recognise and regulate their learning (Dinsmore et al., 2008). In brief, self-regulation is what a lifelong learner does. In science disciplines, much attention has been directed towards curricula that facilitate the development of SRL in students, such that they become aware of, and maintain control over their learning of complex scientific concepts. This study reviews the current theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, and emerging trends from research on SRL in higher education science.

Author Biographies

Nathan Higgins, The University of Melbourne

Nathan Higgins is an Honours student in the Department of Physiology, School of Biomedical Sciences, He completed his Bachelor of Science in 2019, majoring in Neuroscience

Sarah Frankland, The University of Melbourne

Dr Sarah Frankland is a Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Science. She has bachelor’s degrees in Archaeology and Biochemistry, has researched coral symbioses and the workings of malaria parasites. Her current research interests are in how students learn and their misconceptions about science.

Joseph Rathner, The University of Melbourne

Joseph (Yossi) Rathner is a Senior Lecturer in Physiology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. Yossi completed his PhD at the Howard Florey Institute for Experimental Physiology and Medicine (now Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health). Yossi’s previous teaching experience includes Portland Community College, Lewis and Clark College (both Oregon, USA), La Trobe University (Bendigo, Victoria, Australia). Yossi has published extensively in the field of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. His research interest includes understanding student motivation and engagement in learning. In physiology, Yossi is interested in the neural control of metabolism.






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