Higher education courses are increasingly moving online while educational approaches are concurrently shifting their focus toward student-centered approaches to learning. These approaches promote critical thinking by asking students to solve a range of ill-structured problems that exist in the real world. Researchers have found that student-centered online learning environments require students to have self-regulated learning skills, including metacognitive skills to regulate their own learning processes. Much of the research suggests that externally supporting students while they are learning online, either directly or indirectly, helps them to succeed academically. However, few empirical studies have investigated what levels of support are most effective for promoting students' self-regulated learning behaviors. Additionally, these studies reported conflicting results – some found maximum support to be most effective while others found no significant difference. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of different levels of support for self-regulated learning during a complex learning activity to solve an ill-structured problem-solving situation in an online learning environment. In addition, the role of students' self-efficacy on their academic achievement was examined. A total of 101 undergraduate students from three international studies courses offered at a large urban Southeastern public university in the United States participated in the study. The students were randomly assigned to treatment (minimum support, maximum support) and control groups. Students' academic achievement scores were measured using a conceptual knowledge test created by the professor teaching the courses. O'Neil's (1997) Trait Self-Regulation Questionnaire measured students' self-efficacy. Analysis of Co-Variance (ANCOVA) was conducted to analyze the data. The ANCOVA results indicated significant improvement of the academic achievement of the minimum support group versus both the maximum support and control groups. Additionally, self-efficacy as a co-variable did not significantly impact students' achievement scores in any of the groups. The overall results indicated that it is important to consider the level of self-regulated learning support when designing online learning environments promoting students' critical thinking skills. Promoting students' self-regulated learning skills is vital when designing online higher education courses.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at STARS@ucf.edu

Graduation Date





Hirumi, Atsusi


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Instructional Design and Technology









Release Date

August 2017

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)