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Celebrating Pride! Why and how pride enhances self-regulated learning

Authors: Lars Jenßen and Jeltsen Peeters

What is pride and why should we care about it as teachers?

Pride is an exhilarating feeling. When we are proud of something:

  • we feel we have done everything right

  • we do it again and again

Pride is understood as an emotion that enhances achievement in educational contexts and has long been neglected in previous research.

For example, when it comes to emotions in mathematics education, anxiety has long been the primary focus (Villavicencio & Bernardo, 2016). People can be so anxious about anxiety that they seem to feel it is more worthwhile to study anxiety than more pleasant emotions.

This is highly unfortunate.

Studies show that we tend to perform better when we experience pleasant emotions (like joy or pride) during or after learning and achievement activities. A finding that does not only apply to mathematics education.

What’s more, these positive effects sometimes go beyond the effects of anxiety (Villavicencio & Bernardo, 2016). Pleasant emotions such as pride are therefore powerful emotions.

What does pride have to do with self-regulated learning?

Pride does not only have important effects on achievement.

Pride also seems to influence the relationship between self-regulated learning (SRL) and achievement (Villavicencio & Bernardo, 2013). Academically speaking, pride acts as a moderator. It means that if students experience a high level of pride, then their SRL will have corresponding positive effects on their achievement. However, if students experience no pride at all or very little pride, then their SRL does not affect their performance as the study by Villavicencio and Bernardo (2013) shows.

Pride is like an indicator that shows students that they were able to solve a very valuable task.

So pride is a very important emotion when it comes to SRL and achievement. Thus, the question arises: How can we foster pride?

How to foster pride

Based on Control-Value Theory (Pekrun, 2006), we can assume that pleasant emotions develop when students place a high value on an achievement domain (e.g. History) and feel that they have control in that domain.

For example:

  • High value: "I think History is important for understanding and classifying current political events." (Note: something we would call ‘task value’ in Zimmerman’s terminology)

  • High control: "I know a lot about History."

For pride to develop, we need one additional ingredient: the learner must have the impression that he or she did the good work.

There are two sorts of pride. One is better for learning than the other. Let’s look at two examples to find out both types of proud.

Example 1 – Lucie Lucie feels confident in her math skills and believes it is important in realizing her dream job: becoming an engineer. She just got her exam scores back and they were great. Lucie comes to believe it was her very own effort that produced these positive exam scores, so she experiences authentic pride.

Example 2 – Jon Jon also feels confident in his math skills and thinks math is important. It helps him better understand the crypto market, something he would like to explore once he gets his very first paycheck this weekend. Jon scored well on his exams. He didn’t expect otherwise. His parents are both mathematical geniuses. If he wouldn’t be talented in math, then who else would? Jon believes that he performed well on his exams simply because he is better than everyone else and because of his special ability. This leads Jon to feel ‘hubristic’ pride or in plain language: arrogant pride.

This important distinction is postulated in the “A/H model of pride” (Tracy & Robins, 2007), for which a large body of evidence exists.

So, in a nutshell…

What does it take to experience authentic pride?

1. Make value visible

For example, showing learners why they should learn a particular subject: Why do I need to know what social developments led to the French Revolution?

2. Communicate control

For example, saying that a test can be challenging, but if you study beforehand, you can pass it.

3. Name own contribution

For example, students say that they are the cause of the good grade and not other factors. The way students explain their performance affects not only their emotions but their motivation too!

4. Emphasize effort rather than stable ability

For example, students say they got a good grade because they learned a lot or worked well in the lessons before, not because they are generally good at the subject.

The best thing for a teacher is to watch students being proud and to accompany them like a cheerleader. Let's celebrate our pride!

Want to deepen your understanding?

We have a short quiz for you.

The four teacher tips above can be traced back to self-regulated learning skills from the Zimmerman model. Do you know which ones?

  • “Make value visible” relates to A: goal setting B: task value C: imagery

  • “Communicate control” relates to A: self-evaluation B: help-seeking C: causal attributions

  • “Name own contribution” relates to A: causal attributions B: task interest C: time management

  • “Emphasize effort over stable ability” relates to A: planning B: self-satisfaction C: causal attributions

Correct answers at the end of the post.

Are you getting to know the Zimmerman model?

Soon you’ll begin to see how experts’ tips and tricks to help students learn are often connected to the 21 self-regulated learning skills.

That’s a great leap forward in your learning journey! It will help you see how all self-regulated learning skills are connected. You’ll soon become your own expert! For now: one step at a time.

Want to read more?

Pekrun, R. (2006). The control-value theory of achievement emotions: Assumptions, corollaries, and implications for educational research and practice. Educational Psychology Review, 18(4), 315–341.

Tracy, J. L., & Robins, R. W. (2007). The psychological structure of pride: A tale of two facets. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(3), 506–525.

Villavicencio, F. T., & Bernardo, A. B. I. (2013). Positive academic emotions moderate the relationship between self-regulation and academic achievement. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(2), 329–340.

Villavicencio, F. T., & Bernardo, A. B. I. (2016). Beyond math anxiety: Positive emotions predict mathematics achievement, self-regulation, and self-efficacy. Asia-Pacific Education Researcher, 25(3), 415–422. https://doi.or g/10.1007/s40299-015-0251-4

Correct answers: B, C, A, C

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