Proposing a Model of Co-Regulated Learning for Graduate Medical Education

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Abstract

Primarily grounded in Zimmerman’s social cognitive model of self-regulation, graduate medical education is guided by principles that self-regulated learning takes place within social context and influence, and that the social context and physical environment reciprocally influence persons and their cognition, behavior, and development. However, contemporary perspectives on self-regulation are moving beyond Zimmerman’s triadic reciprocal orientation to models that consider social transactions as the central core of regulated learning. Such co-regulated learning models emphasize shared control of learning and the role more advanced others play in scaffolding novices’ metacognitive engagement.

Models of co-regulated learning describe social transactions as periods of distributed regulation among individuals, which instrumentally promote or inhibit the capacity for individuals to independently self-regulate. Social transactions with other regulators, including attending physicians, more experienced residents, and allied health care professionals, are known to mediate residents’ learning and to support or hamper the development of their self-regulated learning competence. Given that social transactions are at the heart of learning-oriented assessment and entrustment decisions, an appreciation for co-regulated learning is likely important for advancing medical education research and practice—especially given the momentum of new innovations such as entrustable professional activities.

In this article, the author explains why graduate medical educators should consider adopting a model of co-regulated learning to complement and extend Zimmerman’s models of self-regulated learning. In doing so, the author suggests a model of co-regulated learning and provides practical examples of how the model is relevant to graduate medical education research and practice.

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