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Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform.

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Loving Those Pranksters at TCR

By Rick Hess — March 10, 2011 2 min read

After writing more about Wisconsin the past week or two than is probably healthy, I thought it’d be nice to address something a little lighter. Fortunately, the pranksters at the Teachers College Record offer sweet, sweet succor in the form of what seems to be an early April Fool’s joke--something akin to their own version of the Fordham Institute’s annual “Gladfly.” You see, the new TCR online features a “special section” on, yep, you guessed it, “Social Aspects of Self-Regulated Learning: Where Social and Self Meet in the Strategic Regulation of Learning.”

I can picture the TCR editors giggling into their fists, as they ask one another, “Do you think folks will get the joke, or is someone going to take this seriously?” I just want to say, “Guys, thanks--I’m onto you, and I love it.” You definitely need to check this out.

After all, the first article is on, “Self-Regulation, Coregulation, and Socially Shared Regulation: Exploring Perspectives of Social in Self-Regulated Learning Theory.” The article “contrasts: (a) the role of social influence in the regulation of learning, (b) the emerging language for describing regulation of learning (self-regulation, coregulation, or socially shared regulation), and (c) empirical methods for researching social aspects in the regulation of learning.” Right there, you know this is one of those exercises where the TCR editors used a random word generator to see if folks would catch on or not.

But that’s just for starters. For good measure, the TCR editors tossed in, “The Situated Dynamics of Purposes of Engagement and Self-Regulation Strategies: A Mixed-Methods Case Study of Writing.” You see, this piece draws on a case analysis of how engaged some ninth-graders are in “a writing task.”

And then there’s, “Research on Individual Differences Within a Sociocultural Perspective: Co-regulation and Adaptive Learning.” The piece presents research on “teacher-centered instruction and individual differences among students within a sociocultural perspective, specifically, within a co-regulation model.” It features data from classroom observations, student self-monitoring, and classroom-like tasks and standardized tests “to illuminate the dynamics of opportunity, activity, and adaptation in student achievement.”

In closing ruminations, Monique Boekaerts (does that sound like a made-up name or what?) explains “how each author contributes to our understanding of the social context-self-regulation link” and “how the articles collectively enhance our insights into the social embeddedness of regulation strategies in the classroom.” Boekaerts reputedly teaches at the generically named International Academy of Education. Hmmm, if I visited IAS at its Netherlands address, I’m guessing I’d find an empty storefront... or a confectionery store.

I’m glad it’s all a joke, because otherwise it’s tough to discern just what “self-regulated learning,” “co-regulation,” or the “social context-self regulation link” actually mean (unless it’s the pedantic observation that teachers, peers, classroom environments, and students themselves affect learning.) After all, if this stuff were for real, it sure seems like it could be said more simply and clearly, and I’d have to wonder whether creating vast seas of hard-to-follow jargon doesn’t do more to retard than promote terrific teaching and learning.

So, rather than imagine that Boekaerts and her pals are busy working hard to make simple insights unintelligible, I’m presuming that those friendly pranksters at TCR are just having a lark.

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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