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Learner autonomy, self-regulation skills and self-efficacy beliefs – How can students’ academic writing skills be supported?

Åsa Mickwitz and Marja Suojala

Abstract

High self-efficacy beliefs and effective self-regulatory strategies are increasingly important in academic settings, and especially in developing academic writing skills. This article deals with how students develop academic writing skills in two different pedagogical settings (as autonomous learners and in a traditional learning environment), and how this is associated with the students’ self-regulatory strategies and self-efficacy beliefs. In the study, self-regulatory skills referred to the ability to take charge of, manage and organize the learning process, while self-efficacy beliefs were defined as the strength of students’ confidence to accomplish an extensive task and sense of succeeding. The method was quantitative, including some qualitative elements, and data was elicited through a survey answered by 150 students, after they had attended courses in academic writing. The survey consisted of 1 open-ended question and 16 multiple-choice questions (a five-point Likert scale). The data was analyzed using SPSS. The results show that self-regulatory skills and self-efficacy beliefs have a greater impact on learning academic writing skills in traditional learning settings than in learning settings where the students are supposed to work more independently, and where teacher support is not available to the same extent.


Corresponding author: Åsa Mickwitz, Language Center, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, E-mail:

Appendix A Questionnaire

Background information

1 For how many years have you been studying at the university?

2 Major field of study

3 I have written a BA thesis in previous studies. Yes/No

4 Which of the courses in academic writing did you attend?

The traditional course

The ALMS-course

5 Mother tongue: Swedish/Finnish/Both Swedish and Finnish/Something else

6 How did you develop as a writer during the course?

7 Consider the following statements on the scale 1–5.

(1) After I attended the course, it’s easier for me to find linguistic errors and other problems in my own texts.

(2) I know now what kind of literature I can use as references, when I write texts in my own academic genre.

(3) I know how to structure an academic text.

(4) I know how to use arguments in an academic text.

(5) I know how to use references in texts of my own academic genre.

(6) I know how to search for information, for example on the web, if I encounter problems in my writing.

(7) I rewrote my text several times before I submitted it.

(8) I started the writing process in time.

(9) I have learned to improve my texts with the support of the teacher and peers.

(10) I achieved my learning objectives that I created in the beginning of the course.

(11) I asked the teacher or my peers for help if something in the writing process felt difficult.

(12) I easily give up if writing feels hard.

(13) I often feel that I am a useless writer and that it is a personal trait.

(14) I am a good enough writer to be able to write a Bachelor thesis.

(15) I often feel that I fail in my writing.

(16) I usually like writing.

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Published Online: 2021-02-03
Published in Print: 2020-12-16

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