Promoting self-regulated learning in preschoolers

Keywords: Self-regulated learning, Self-regulation, Preschool, Intervention


Self-regulated learning (SRL) is important for a person's school career and their later academic success, and it should therefore be fostered as early as possible. Nevertheless, research focusing on the promotion of SRL in preschoolers is limited. The present study aims to examine the efficacy of an SRL intervention based on a longitudinal control-group-design for preschoolers (direct-level intervention) and their kindergarten teachers (indirect-level intervention). The SRL intervention took place in either a) an autonomous learning environment, where SRL learning strategies were practiced with no special focus on the stimulation of communicative abilities or b) in a social-interactive learning environment, where SRL learning strategies were practiced while communicative abilities were stimulated. The sample consisted of 189 preschoolers (49.5% ♀, 50.5% ♂, mean age: 5.6 years, SD = .47 years) and 30 kindergarten teachers. SRL and general self-regulation ability (gSR) served as performance measures. The results of the paired t-tests revealed an increase in SRL and gSR for preschoolers irrespective of the condition, while a group-differential intervention benefit for preschoolers (i.e. direct-autonomous or direct-interactive intervention) could not be confirmed by the applied repeated measures ANOVA and contrast analyses. Further, we did not find any substantial benefit from teacher intervention (i.e. indirect intervention) analysed by non-parametric Wilcoxon test. This unexpected result is discussed in light of methodical considerations. Nevertheless, the study provides important implications for future intervention studies. 


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


An, X., Curby, T. W., & Brock, L. L. (2018). Is the child really what’s being rated? Sources of variance in teacher ratings of socioemotional skills. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 37 (7), 899 – 910.

Armstrong, R. A. (2014). When to use the Bonferroni correction. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt, 34, 502–508. DOI:

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: a social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Barnett, W. S. (2008). Preschool education and its lasting effects: research and policy implications. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved May 19, 2020, from

Barnett, W. S., Jung, K., Yarosz, D. J., Thomas, J., Hornbeck, A., Stechuk, R., & Burns, S. (2008). Educational effects of the Tools of the Mind curriculum: A randomized trial. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23(3), 299–313. DOI:

Blair, C., & Raver, C. C. (2015). School readiness and self-regulation: A developmental psychobiological approach. Annual Review of Psychology, 66(1), 711–731. DOI:

Blair, C., & Razza, R. P. (2007). Relating effortful control, executive function, and false belief understanding to emerging math and literacy ability in kindergarten. Child Development, 78(2), 647–663. DOI:

Blaye, A., & Chevalier, N. (2011). The role of goal representation in preschoolers’ flexibility and inhibition. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108(3), 469–483. DOI:

Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. (2001). Tools of the Mind: A case study of implementing the Vygotskian approach in American early childhood and primary classrooms (UNESCO Innodata Monographs: Educational Innovations in Action No. 7). Geneva: International Bureau of Education, UNESCO.

Bono, K. E., & Bizri, R. (2014). The role of language and private speech in preschoolers’ self-regulation. Early Child Development and Care, 184(5), 658–670. DOI:

Bos, W., Lankes, E. M., Prenzel, M., Schwippert, K., Walther, G., & Valtin, R. (2003). Erste Ergebnisse aus IGLU. Schülerleistungen am Ende der vierten Jahrgangsstufe im internationalen Vergleich. Münster: Waxmann.

Bradley, R. T., Atkinson, M., Tomasino, D., Rees, R. A., & Galvin, P. (2009). Facilitating emotional self-regulation in preschool children: Efficacy of the Early HeartSmarts Program in promoting social, emotional and cognitive development. Institute of HeartMath. Retrieved May 19, 2020, from DOI:

Bronson, M. B. (2000). Self-regulation in early childhood: Nature and nurture. New York: Guilford Press.

Bünger, A., Urfer-Maurer, N., & Grob, A. (2019). Multimethod assessment of attention, executive functions, and motor skills in children with and without ADHD: Children’s performance and parents’ perceptions. Journal of attention disorders, 1087054718824985. Advance online publication. DOI:

Cameron, C. E., Mcclelland, M. M., Jewkes, A. M., Mcdonald, C., Farris, C. L., & Morrison, F. J. (2008). Touch your toes ! Developing a direct measure of behavioral regulation in early childhood. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23(2), 141–158. DOI:

Camp, B. W., Blom, G. E., Hebert, F., & van Doorninck, W. J. (1977). “Think Aloud”: A program for developing self-control in young aggressive boys. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 5(2), 157–169. DOI:

Carlson, S. M. (2005). Developmentally sensitive measures of executive function in preschool children. Developmental Neuropsychology, 28(2), 595–616. DOI:

Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (2011). Self-regulation of action and affect. In K. D. Vohs & R.F. Baumeister (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications (2nd ed.) (pp. 3–21). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.

Castro, S. L. (2002). Data analytic methods for the analysis of multilevel questions. A comparison of intraclass correlation coefficients, rwg(j), hierarchical linear modeling, within- and between-analysis, and random group resampling. Leadership Quarterly, 13 (1), 69–93. DOI:

Chan, W. L. (2012). Expectations for the transition from kindergarten to primary school amongst teachers, parents and children. Early Child Development and Care, 182(5), 639–664. DOI:

Christiansen, M. H. (2019). Implicit statistical learning: A tale of two literatures. Topics in Cognitive Science, 11(3), 468–481. DOI:

Clark, R. E. (1990). When teaching kills learning: Studies of mathematanics. In H. Mandl, E. De Corte, N. S. Bennet, & H. F. Friedrich (Eds.), Learning and Instruction: European research in an international context (pp. 1–22). Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Connor, C. M., Ponitz, C. C., Phillips, B. M., Travis, Q. M., Glasney, S., & Morrison, F. J. (2010). First graders’ literacy and self-regulation gains : The effect of individualizing student instruction. Journal of School Psychology, 48(5), 433–455. DOI:

Desoete, A. (2008). Multi-method assessment of metacognitive skills in elementary school children: How you test is what you get. Metacognition and Learning, 3(3), 189–206. DOI:

Dignath, C., Buettner, G., & Langfeldt, H. P. (2008). How can primary school students learn self-regulated learning strategies most effectively? A meta-analysis on self-regulation training programs. Educational Research Review, 3(2), 101–129. DOI:

Dinsmore, D. L., Alexander, P. A., & Loughlin, S. M. (2008). Focusing the conceptual lens on metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review, 20(4), 391–409. DOI:

Dolean, D., Melby-Lervåg, M., Tincas, I., Damsa, C., & Lervåg, A. (2019). Achievement gap: Socioeconomic status affects reading development beyond language and cognition in children facing poverty. Learning and Instruction, 63, 1–10. DOI:

Dörr, L., & Perels, F. (2019a). Improving metacognitive abilities as an important prerequisite for self-regulated learning in preschool children. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 11(5), 449–459. DOI:

Dörr, L., & Perels, F. (2019b). Improving young children’s self-regulated learning using a combination of direct and indirect interventions. Early Child Development and Care. 1-13. DOI:

Dörrenbächer, L., & Perels, F. (2016). More is more ? Evaluation of interventions to foster self-regulated learning in college. International Journal of Educational Research, 78, 50–65. DOI:

Espinet, S. D., Anderson, J. E., & Zelazo, P. D. (2013). Reflection training improves executive function in preschool-age children: Behavioral and neural effects. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 4, 3–15. DOI:

Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., & Davidson, R. J. (2015). Promoting prosocial behaviour and self-regulatory skills in preschool children through a mindfulness-based kindness curriuculum. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 44–51. DOI:

Ford, R. M., McDougall, S. J. P., & Evans, D. (2009). Parent-delivered compensatory education for children at risk of educational failure: Improving the academic and self-regulatory skills of a sure start preschool sample. British Journal of Psychology, 100(4), 773–797. DOI:

Foroughi, C. K., Monfort, S. S., Paczynski, M., McKnight, P. E., & Greenwood, P. M. (2016). Placebo effects in cognitive training. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(27), 7470–7474. DOI:

Fox, E., & Riconscente, M. (2008). Metacognition and self-regulation in James, Piaget, and Vygotsky. Educational Psychology Review, 20(4), 373–389. DOI:

Furnari, E. C., Whittaker, J., Kinzie, M., & DeCoster, J. (2017). Factors associated with accuracy in prekindergarten teacher ratings of students’ mathematics skills. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 35(4), 410–423. DOI:

Gaskins, I. W., Satlow, E., Pressley, M., & Meltzer, L. (2007). Executive control of reading comprehension in the elementary school. In L. Meltzer (Ed.), Executive function in education: From theory to practice (pp. 194–215). New York: The Guilford Press.

Glaser, C., & Brunstein, J. C. (2007). Förderung von Fertigkeiten zur Überarbeitung narrativer Texte bei Schülern der 6. Klasse. Effekte von Revisionsstrategien und selbstregulatorischen Prozeduren. Zeitschrift Fur Padagogische Psychologie, 21(1), 51–63. DOI:

Goujon, A., Didierjean, A., & Thorpe, S. (2015). Investigating implicit statistical learning mechanisms through contextual cueing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19(9), 524–533. DOI:

Hendry, A., Jones, E. J. H., & Charman, T. (2016). Executive function in the first three years of life: Precursors, predictors and patterns. Developmental Review, 42, 1–33. DOI:

Jacob, L., Dörrenbächer, S., & Perels, F. (2019). A pilot study of the online assessment of self-regulated learning in preschool children: Development of a direct, quantitative measurement tool. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 12(2), 115–126. DOI:

Landmann, M., Perels, F., Otto, B., Schnick-Vollmer, K., & Schmitz, B. (2015). Selbstregulation und selbstreguliertes Lernen. In Pädagogische Psychologie. In Pädagogische Psychologie (pp. 45–65). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.

Leidinger, M. (2014). Förderung von Strategien selbstregulierten Lernens und deren Einfluss auf die schulische Leistung sowie die Selbstwirksamkeitsüberzeugungen von Schülern im Primarbereich: Implementation einer Lernumgebung in den regulären Unterricht der vierten Klassenstufe [Doctoral dissertation, Saarland University].

Leidinger, M., & Perels, F. (2012). Training self-regulated learning in the classroom: Development and evaluation of learning materials to train self-regulated learning during regular mathematics lessons at primary school. Education Research International. 735790, 1-14. DOI:

Leisman, G., Mualem, R., & Mughrabi, S. K. (2018). The neurological development of the child with the educational enrichment in mind. Psicologia Educativa, 21(2), 79–96. DOI:

Lewis, F. C., Reeve, R. A., Kelly, S. P., & Johnson, K. A. (2017). Evidence of substantial development of inhibitory control and sustained attention between 6 and 8 years of age on an unpredictable Go/No-Go task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 157, 66–80. DOI:

Lipsey, M. R. (1990). Design sensitivity: Statistical power for experimental research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Lockl, K., Händel, M., Haberkorn, K., & Weinert, S. (2016). Metacognitive knowledge in young children: Development of a new test procedure for first graders. In H. P. Blossfeld, J. von Maurice, M. Bayer, & J. Skopek (Eds.), Methodological Issues of Longitudinal Surveys: The Example of the National Educational Panel Study (pp. 465–485). Wiesbaden: Springer.

Lyons, K. E., & Ghetti, S. (2010). Metacognitive development in early childhood: New questions about old assumptions. In A. Efklides & P. Misailidi (Eds.), Trends and Prospects in Metacognition Research. Boston, MA: Springer.

Martinez, M. E. (2006). What is metacognition? Phi Delta Kappan, 87(9), 696–699. DOI:

Mashburn, A. J., Hamre, B. K., Downer, J. T., & Pianta, R. C. (2006). Teacher and classroom characteristics associated with teachers’ ratings of prekindergartners’ relationships and behaviors. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 24(4), 367–380. DOI:

Mashburn, A. J., & Henry, G. T. (2004). Assessing school readiness: Validity and bias in preschool and kindergarten teachers’ ratings. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 23(4), 16–30. DOI:

McClelland, M. M., & Cameron, C. E. (2011). Self-regulation and academic achievement in elementary school children. In R. M. Lerner, J. V Lerner, E. P. Bowers, S. Lewin-Bizan, S. Gestsdottir, & J. B. Urban (Eds.), Thriving in childhood and adolescence: The role of self-regulation processes (pp. 29–44). Newyork: John Wiley & Sons Inc DOI:

McClelland, M. M., Cameron, C. E., Duncan, R., Ryan, P., Acock, A. C., Miao, A., & Pratt, M. E. (2014). Predictors of early growth in academic achievement: The head-toes-knees-shoulders task. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 1-14. DOI:

Meichenbaum, D. H., & Goodman, J. (1971). Training impulsive children to talk to themselves: A means of developing self-control. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 77(2), 115 – 126. DOI:

Merget-Kullmann, M., & Wende, M. (2004). Konzeption, Durchführung und Evaluation eines Erzieherinnentrainings zum Thema “Lernen lernen mit Vorschulkindern” (Unpublished doctoral dissertation) Technical University, Darmstadt.

Montroy, J. J., Bowles, R. P., Skibbe, L. E., McClelland, M. M., & Morrison, F. J. (2016). The development of self-regulation across early childhood. Developmental Psychology, 52(11), 1744–1762. DOI:

Nückles, M., Hübner, S., & Renkl, A. (2009). Enhancing self-regulated learning by writing learning protocols. Learning and Instruction, 19(3), 259–271. DOI:

Otto, B. (2007). SELVES: Schüler-, Eltern- und Lehrertraining zur Vermittlung effektiver Selbstregulation Berlin: Logos Verlag Berlin GmbH.

Parent, M. C. (2013). Handling item-level missing data: Simpler is just as good. The Counseling Psychologist, 41(4), 568–600. DOI:

Perels, F., Merget-Kullmann, M., Wende, M., Schmitz, B., & Buchbinder, C. (2009). Improving self-regulated learning of preschool children: Evaluation of training for kindergarten teachers. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 79(2), 311–327. DOI:

Perruchet, P., & Pacton, S. (2006). Implicit learning and statistical learning: One phenomenon, two approaches. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(5), 233–238. DOI:

Perry, N. E., Hutchinson, L. R., Yee, N., & Määttä, E. (2018). Advances in understanding young children’s self-regulation of learning. In D. H. Schunck & J. A. Greene (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (pp. 457–472). New York: Routledge.

Phillips, B. M., & Lonigan, C. J. (2010). Child and informant influences on behavioral ratings of preschool children. Psychology in the Schools, 47(4), 374–390. DOI:

Pramling, I. (1986). The origin of the child’s idea of learning through practice. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 1(3), 31–46. DOI:

Raver, C. C., Jones, S. M., Li-Grining, C., Zhai, F., Bub, K., & Pressler, E. (2011). CSRP’s impact on low-income preschoolers’ preacademic skills: Self-regulation as a mediating mechanism. Child Development, 82(1), 362–378. DOI:

Ricken, G. (2007). HAWIVA-III: Hannover-Wechsler-Intelligenztest für das Vorschulalter - III. Göttingen: Hogrefe.

Rothbart, M. K., & Ahadi, S. A. (1994). Temperament and the development of personality. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 103(1), 55–66. DOI:

Rowley, B. A. (2015). Kindergarten assessment: Analysis of the Child Behavioral Rating Scale (CBRS) (Doctoral dissertation). University of Oregon, Eugene.

Salmon, K., O’Kearney, R., Reese, E., & Fortune, C. A. (2016). The role of language skill in child psychopathology: Implications for intervention in the early years. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 19(4), 352–367. DOI:

Schmitt, S. A., McClelland, M. M., Tominey, S. L., & Acock, A. C. (2015). Strengthening school readiness for Head Start children: Evaluation of a self-regulation intervention. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 30, 20–31. DOI:

Schmitz, B., & Wiese, B. S. (2006). New perspectives for the evaluation of training sessions in self-regulated learning: Time-series analyses of diary data. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 31(1), 64–96. DOI:

Schunk, D. H. (2008). Metacognition, self-regulation, and self-regulated learning: Research recommendations. Educational Psychology Review, 20(4), 463–467. DOI:

Seidler, A. L., & Ritchie, S. J. (2018). The association between socioeconomic status and cognitive development in children is partly mediated by a chaotic home atmosphere. Journal of Cognition and Development, 19(5), 486–508. DOI:

Shi, Y., Frederiksen, C. H., & Muis, K. R. (2013). A cross-cultural study of self-regulated learning in a computer-supported collaborative learning environment. Learning and Instruction, 23(1), 52–59. DOI:

Sitzmann, T., & Ely, K. (2011). A meta-analysis of self-regulated learning in work-related training and educational attainment: What we know and where we need to go. Psychological Bulletin, 137(3), 421–442. DOI:

Snijders, T. A. B. (2011). Multilevel analysis. In L. M (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of statistical science. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.

Souvignier, E., & Moklesgerami, J. (2006). Using self-regulation as a framework for implementing strategy instruction to foster reading comprehension. Learning and Instruction, 16(1), 57–71. DOI:

Torrance, M., Fidalgo, R., & García, J. N. (2007). The teachability and effectiveness of cognitive self-regulation in sixth-grade writers. Learning and Instruction, 17(3), 265–285. DOI:

Ursache, A., & Noble, K. G. (2016). Neurocognitive development in socioeconomic context: Multiple mechanisms and implications for measuring socioeconomic status. Psychophysiology, 53(1), 71–82. DOI:

Venitz, L., & Perels, F. (2018). Promoting self-regulated learning of preschoolers through indirect intervention: a two-level approach. Early Child Development and Care, 189(13), 1–14.

Venitz, L., & Perels, F. (2019). The promotion of self-regulated learning by kindergarten teachers: Differential effects of an indirect intervention. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 11(5), 437–448. DOI:

Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and language. Cambridge: MIT Press. DOI:

Wagner, D., Dörrenbächer, S., & Perels, F. (2014). A framework for designing training programs to foster self-regulated learning and text analysis skills. Education Research International, 510342, 1-15. DOI:

Whitebread, D., Anderson, H., Coltman, P., Page, C., Pasternak, D. P., & Mehta, S. (2005). Developing independent learning in the early years. Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 33(1), 40–50. DOI:

Whitebread, D., Coltman, P., Pasternak, D. P., Sangster, C., Grau, V., Bingham, S., Almeqdad, Q., & Demetriou, D. (2009). The development of two observational tools for assessing metacognition and self-regulated learning in young children. Metacognition and Learning, 4(1), 63–85. DOI:

Wigfield, A., Klauda, S. L., & Cambria, J. (2011). Influences on the development of academic self-regulatory processes. In B. J. Zimmerman & D. H. Schunk (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (pp. 33–48). New York: Routledge.

Williford, A. P., Whittaker, J. E. V., Vitiello, V. E., & Downer, J. T. (2013). Children’s engagement within the preschool classroom and their development of self-regulation. Early Education and Development, 24(2), 162–187. DOI:

Winsler, A., De León, J. R., Wallace, B. A., Carlton, M. P., & Willson-Quayle, A. (2003). Private speech in preschool children: Developmental stability and change, across-task consistency, and relations with classroom behaviour. Journal of Child Language, 30(3), 583–608. DOI:

Winsler, A., Diaz, R. M., & Montero, I. (1997). The role of private speech in the transition from collaborative to independent task performance in young children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12(1), 59–79. DOI:

Zelazo, P. D. (2015). Executive function: Reflection, iterative reprocessing, complexity, and the developing brain. Developmental Review, 38, 55–68. DOI:

Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation: A social cognitive perspective. In M. Boekarts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self regulation (pp. 13–41). San Diego: Acamedic Press.

How to Cite
Jacob, L., Benick, M., Dörrenbächer, S., & Perels, F. (2020). Promoting self-regulated learning in preschoolers. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 1(2), 116-140.

Funding data