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Self-regulated learning and treatment effect heterogeneity in educational interventions: a formal model and simulation study


Research has shown that many field experiments in education result in effects that are either non-significant or conventionally considered small. It appears that few, if any, educational interventions have uniformly large effects across student populations. We propose a new formal model of intervention effectiveness grounded in self-regulated learning theories. This model allows for evaluating the joint effects of motivational, cognitive, and metacognitive interventions on populations of learners differing in terms of baseline motivation, learning speed, metacognitive accuracy, and prior knowledge. Given this model, we simulate different intervention-student combinations, answering questions such as: "which groups of learners would benefit from motivational interventions?" and "why might large effects of study strategies in laboratory studies fail to translate to self-regulated learning contexts?" This model advances our understanding of different classes of educational interventions, why they work, who they benefit, and how to best combine interventions to help both at-risk and high-achieving student populations.


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