Learner Self-Regulation in Distance Education: A Cross Cultural Study

Open Access
Al-Harthi, Aisha Salim
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
July 17, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Michael Grahame Moore, Committee Chair
  • Gary Kuhne, Committee Chair
  • David Post, Committee Member
  • Pui Wa Lei, Committee Member
  • self-regulation
  • culture
  • distance education
  • time-perspective
  • Arab
The overarching purpose of this study was to explore the underlying relationship between learner self-regulation, cultural orientation and learner preference towards course interaction and flexibility. Cultural orientation was measured through variables in relation to time (future time orientation), structure (uncertainty avoidance), authority (power distance), and relation (interdependence). Learner self-regulation was measured through six variables representing metacognitive and motivational aspects of self-regulation. These variables were planning, self-checking, effort, self-efficacy, help-seeking, and time and environment management. The validity of cross-cultural comparisons was established using back-translation and multiple group confirmatory factor analysis. Construct, method and item equivalence were established for all research constructs. Results suggest significant differences between Arab and American distance learners in the way they regulate their learning, in their cultural orientation towards time and group interdependence, and in their preferences towards course structure and interaction with instructors. American students scored significantly higher than the Arabs on interdependence and future orientation. They also scored significantly higher than Arab students on planning, monitoring, effort, time and environment management and self-efficacy, while Arab students scored significantly higher than American students on help. Arab students preferred significantly higher structure and more interaction with their instructors than American students. Using structural equation modeling, the relationship between cultural and self-regulation variables was investigated. In the best fitting model, only future orientation explained variances in self-regulation. Help was not found to be measurement invariant across the two groups. American students did not conceptualize help as part of their self-regulation whereas Arab students did. Results were inconclusive when adding variables of course structure and interaction, years and gender to the model. Some fit indices indicated unacceptable fit and some of the components of the model were insignificant. However, these results suggested group by gender interaction on metacognition: Arab males and American females scored significantly higher on metacognition than Arab females and American males.