What are the effects of self-regulation phases and strategies for Chinese students? A meta-analysis of two decades research of the association between self-regulation and academic performance


Background: Self-regulated learning refers to the monitoring and controlling of one's own cognitive performance before, during, and after a learning episode. Previous literature suggested that self-regulated learning had a significant relationship with academic achievement, but not all self-regulated learning strategies exerted the same influences. Using an invalid strategy may waste the limited psychological resources, which will cause the ego depletion effect. The present meta-analysis study intended to search for the best self-regulated learning strategies and inefficient strategies for Chinese students in elementary and secondary school, and analyzed the critical phases of self-regulated learning according to Zimmerman's theory. The moderating effects of gender, grade, and publication year were also analyzed. Methods: Empirical studies which conducted in real teaching situations of elementary and secondary education were systematically searched using Chinese academic databases. Studies focused on undergraduate students, students of special education, or online learning environments were excluded. Fifty-five cross-sectional studies and four intervention studies (which generated 264 independent samples) were included with a total sample size of 23,497 participants. Random effects model was chosen in the current meta-analysis, and publication bias was also examined. Results: The results indicated that the overall effect size of self-regulated learning on academic achievement was small for primary and secondary school students in China. The effect sizes of self-efficacy, task strategies, and self-evaluation were relatively higher than other strategies. Self-regulated learning strategies have the largest effect size on science disciplines (including mathematics and physics). Performance phase and self-reflection phase are key phases of self-regulated learning. From 1998 to 2016, the effect size between self-regulated learning and academic achievement was gradually decreasing. Conclusions: The main findings of the current study showed that self-efficacy, task strategies, and self-evaluation were key self-regulated learning strategies for Chinese students. Performance phase and self-reflection phase played significant roles in the process of self-regulated learning. Future studies need to include more intervention studies with rigorous treatment fidelity control and provide more empirical evidence from online learning, so as to compare the different effects of self-regulated learning between traditional education and online education.

Publication Title

Frontiers in Psychology