Many students experience difficulties transitioning to higher education. Secondary school graduates starting higher education appear to be insufficiently equipped to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning processes independently. However, these so-called 'self-regulation skills' are inherent to higher education. Given that teachers in secondary education stimulate self-regulation in pupils in a wide variety of ways, lecturers in higher education cannot simply assume that all students will manage on their own.

In this ECHO Teaching Tip, we want to demonstrate how you as a lecturer can contribute to the self-regulation of your students in an online learning environment.

How to stimulate students' self-regulation?

    Strengthening students' learning strategies

In order to teach students to study more effectively and efficiently, you can teach them learning strategies. Be sure to provide clear structure in the content of your lectures. After all, this facilitates student learning and sets an important example. Spacing studying sessions over time is another effective learning strategy. This learning strategy is closely linked to good planning. It is better for students to revise the subject matter in several shorter sittings than to try and memorise everything at once.

    Encouraging self-evaluation and self-reflection

In order to make students aware of their learning processes and to ensure that they adjust their learning strategies if necessary, they need to be encouraged to self-evaluate and self-reflect. Self-evaluation and self-reflection skills are especially important in online learning environments. You could encourage students for example to hone these skills by having them keep track of the progress they are making in a journal. By asking students this type of short question, you encourage them to think about their own learning.

    Sending reminders

Especially for weaker students (but really for all students), it is a good idea to send out regular reminders when certain deadlines are approaching. You can also encourage students by sending the occasional motivational reminder.


This educational concept hinges on the importance of challenging individual students at their own levels, offering enough support to enable them to achieve a specific goal. For example, you could consider using a discussion forum. This can be an interesting tool to stimulate self-management in students, allowing them to ask (you or one another) questions as they process the subject matter. You can focus on 'peer-to-peer assistance', with students answering one another's questions.

    Be a role model for your students

To show students that certain skills are indispensable in higher education, it is essential to be a role model for them, for example by setting clear goals that you communicate clearly. Another possible way to be a role model for students is by explicitly stating when you are scheduling something, and why. The ultimate goal is to move from "external guidance" (guidance by the teacher) to "internal guidance" (guidance by the student).