An Interactive Layers Model of Self-Regulated Learning and Cognitive Load

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenÜbersichtsarbeitenForschung


  • Joachim Wirth
  • Ferdinand Stebner
  • Melanie Trypke
  • Corinna Schuster
  • Detlev Leutner

Models of self-regulated learning emphasize the active and intentional role of learners and, thereby, focus mainly on conscious processes in working memory and long-term memory. Cognitive load theory supports this view on learning. As a result, both fields of research ignore the potential role of unconscious processes for learning. In this review paper, we propose an interactive layers model on self-regulated learning and cognitive load that considers sensory memory, working memory, and long-term memory. The model distinguishes between (a) unconscious self-regulated learning initiated by so-called resonant states in sensory memory and (b) conscious self-regulated learning of scheme construction in working memory. In contrast with conscious self-regulation, unconscious self-regulation induces no cognitive load. The model describes conscious and unconscious self-regulation in three different layers: a content layer, a learning strategy layer, and a metacognitive layer. Interactions of the three layers reflect processes of monitoring and control. We first substantiate the model based on a narrative review. Afterwards, we illustrate how the model contributes to re-interpretation of inconsistent empirical findings reported in the existing literature.

ZeitschriftEducational Psychology Review
Seiten (von - bis)1127-1149
Anzahl der Seiten23
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.12.2020