Theoretical Foundation and Previous Studies of Motivational Regulation

Motivational regulation has been researched from different perspectives, such as volition, personality, language development, and SRL. Since the study of Wolters (1998), motivational regulation has been studied mostly from the perspective of SRL. In the present study, SRL will be the general theoretical framework in which motivational regulation is anchored and the relations between motivational regulation and other components of SRL are also emphasized in the study. First a definition of SRL is required.

Definition of SRL

SRL theory attempts to illustrate how individuals direct their own learning processes. Emerging in the mid-1980s, SRL has become a current focus for research in educational psychology and attracted researchers from diverse theoretical traditions. A great deal of research about SRL has been conducted and numerous theories and models have tried to identify self-regulation processes and the relationships between these processes and academic performance (e.g., Boekaerts & Niemivirta, 2000; Pintrich, 2000; Zimmerman, 2000a). SRL has also been thought to have a great impact on students’ academic learning (e.g., Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990; Zimmerman, 1989, 1994; Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons, 1986, 1990).

Although the importance of SRL has been established, there has been no consensus on the definition of SRL. According to Zimmerman (1986), SRL is the extent to which the learner is a metacognitively, motivationally, © The Author(s) 2017

K. Li, Motivational Regulation in Foreign Language Learning, DOI 10.1057/978-1-349-93118-7_2

and behaviorally active participant in his or her own learning process. Metacognitively, self-regulated learners can plan, organize, self-instruct, self-monitor, and self-evaluate their learning process. Motivationally, self-regulated learners perceive themselves as competent, self-efficacious, and autonomous learners. Behaviorally, self-regulated learners select and create positive working environments that could promote learning. Zimmerman (2000a, p.14) later broadened his earlier definition: “selfregulation refers to self-generated thoughts, feelings and actions that are planned and cyclically adapted to the adaptive and modifiable nature of self-regulated actions.” According to Winne and Perry (2000), SRL constitutes components of metacognition, motivation, and strategic action. A more comprehensive definition of SRL is given by Pintrich (2000, p.453): “self-regulation is an active, constructive process whereby learners set goals for their learning and then attempt to monitor, regulate, and control their cognition, motivation and behavior, guided and constrained by their goals and the contextual features in the environment.” Similar to Boekaerts’ definition (1999), although with slight difference, there is a common feature in all these definitions of SRL, that is, they all emphasize the importance of cognitive, motivational, and metacognitive processes.

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