Regulating approaches to learning: testing learning strategy convergences across a year at university

Luke K. Fryer, Jan D. Vermunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Contemporary models of student learning within higher education are often inclusive of processing and regulation strategies. Considerable research has examined their use over time and their (person-centred) convergence. The longitudinal stability/variability of learning strategy use, however, is poorly understood, but essential to supporting student learning across university experiences. Aims: Develop and test a person-centred longitudinal model of learning strategies across the first-year university experience. Methods: Japanese university students (n = 933) completed surveys (deep and surface approaches to learning; self, external, and lack of regulation) at the beginning and end of their first year. Following invariance and cross-sectional tests, latent profile transition analysis (LPTA) was undertaken. Results: Initial difference testing supported small but significant differences for self-/external regulation. Fit indices supported a four-group model, consistent across both measurement points. These subgroups were labelled Low Quality (low deep approaches and self-regulation), Low Quantity (low strategy use generally), Average (moderate strategy use), and High Quantity (intense use of all strategies) strategies. The stability of these groups ranged from stable to variable: Average (93% stayers), Low Quality (90% stayers), High Quantity (72% stayers), and Low Quantity (40% stayers). The three largest transitions presented joint shifts in processing/regulation strategy preference across the year, from adaptive to maladaptive and vice versa. Conclusions: Person-centred longitudinal findings presented patterns of learning transitions that different students experience during their first year at university. Stability/variability of students’ strategy use was linked to the nature of initial subgroup membership. Findings also indicated strong connections between processing and regulation strategy changes across first-year university experiences. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-41
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • approaches to learning
  • higher education
  • Japan
  • latent profile transition analysis
  • longitudinal
  • person-centered
  • self-regulation
  • Learning/physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self-Control
  • Universities
  • Young Adult
  • Students
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Longitudinal Studies


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