Developing self-regulated learning skills with school-based mentoring

organizeNunez, J., Rosario, P., Vallejo, G., & Gonzalez-Pienda, J. A. (2013). A longitudinal assessment of the effectiveness of a school-based mentoring program in middle school. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 38, 11-21.


A growing number of studies have highlighted the need for middle school students to develop self-regulated learning (SRL) skills (i.e., OECD, 2010). Students who are trained in SRL strategies, such as goal-setting, note-taking, and self-monitoring, have been shown to have higher motivation, more school engagement, and overall better academic grades (i.e., Baker, Chard, Ketterlin-Getter, Apichataburra, & Doabler, 2009; Boekaerts & Corno, 2005; Dignath, Buettner,& Langfeldt, 2008;  Guthrie, McRae, & Klauda, 2007; Rosario, Gonzlex- Pienda, et al., 2010; Wood, bandura, & Bailey, 1990; Zimmerman, 2008). Mentoring interventions offer a way to help youth develop these skills, however, there has been little research that has looked at the effectiveness of school-based mentoring (SBM) programs in promoting these skills over time. Therefore, the current study examines the effect of school-based mentoring on the development of SRL skills and overall academic performance.


  • The study consisted of ninety-four, 7th grade (aged 11-14) students from a Portuguese middle school. Four classrooms participated and two of the classrooms were randomly selected to be assigned mentors; mentoring took place in groups of 4 students to one mentor/teacher.
  •  The mentors were volunteers (aged 31-42) who had at last 5 years of middle school teaching experience, and were able to participate in 3 training workshops and biweekly supervision
  • The mentoring program was designed to promote the following SRL techniques:
    • goal-setting
    • self-monitoring
    • self-reflection
    • strategic planning
    • organizational strategies
    • The intervention helped promote these techniques by including declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge about SRL as a central part of the intervention. Thus, the mentors would help their mentees reflect on the different aspects of knowledge across various learning settings (i.e., classroom, studying at home, writing assignments, math assignments, exam preparation, and completing homework).
      • Declarative – “What does use a self-strategy mean? Explain.”
      • Procedural –  “How do you usually  evaluate yourself? What do you do if you have difficulties?”
      •  Conditional – “When is it appropriate to evaluate yourself? And when is it inappropriate> What can be performed in case of difficulties?”
      • Comparison Condition: attended a study skills class for 1 hour/wk, the class also focused on a set of learning strategies and SRL processes (those youth in the mentoring group went to the library during this time)
    • The study examined the following outcomes at baseline, 3, 6, and 9 months:
      • SRL strategies (i.e., planning, execution, evaluation)
      • Self-efficacy for SRL – student’s belief in their capabilities to regulate their own learning by using a variety of learning strategies
      • perceived usefulness of SRL
      • academic achievement – language and math
        • study time  (hours/week) was controlled for


  • there were significant differences between the mentoring and comparison groups on all outcomes  (see above) when averaged across time
  • thus, over time the youth in the mentoring group had significantly higher scores on SRL strategies, self-efficacy for SRL, perceived usefulness of SRL, and achievement in both math and language


                The findings suggest that the school-based mentoring program focusing on SRL skills was effective, as students in the mentoring program increased their SRL skills to meet school demands better than students in the comparison group.  The longitudinal nature of the study, moves beyond the limits of many cross-sectional or short-term SBM evaluations and demonstrates that the effectiveness of academic mentoring depends on the measurement time after the intervention is implemented, as skills like SRL techniques are expected to have gradual effects over time, not instant fixes.


summarized by UMB graduate student, Laura Yoviene