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E. González Gascón1, M. De Juan Vigaray2, N. Mendoza3

1Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche (SPAIN)
2Universidad de Alicante (SPAIN)
3University of Texas at El Paso (UNITED STATES)
The inminent introduction of the new university system based on The European Higher Education Area requires changes to the current teaching-learning dynamic. One of the most important shifts needs to occur within students, who must now acquire an active role and assume responsibility for their own learning, and abandon the passive role they have taken over the years. These changes must occur so students can better confront a changing society and new professional challenges. A university degree must now mark the beginning, not the end, of a lifelong learning process; that process begins with students "learning to learn."

Self Regulating Learning (SRL) theories explain how cognitive, motivational and contextual factors influence the learning process. SRL refers to a student’s active process of learning, and is defined as the deliberate planning and monitoring of cognitive and affective processes involved in the successful completion of academic tasks. The perceived usefulness of the course subject matter and achievement goal orientation are two constructs with potential to facilitate learning within the SRL framework. Specifically, the former refers to the students’ expectations regarding the extent to which the course subject matter will be useful in their professional future. The latter, is the students approach to the subject, and is defined as an internalized tendency to strive for a standard of excellence.

The current study tests a model where these constructs are hypothesized as antecedent factors to students’ SRL strategies. The study was carried out with students in marketing courses in five different universities: three in Spain, one in France, and one in the United States. Students answered a two-page, self-report questionnaire. The questionnaire included scales from the learning literature, some of which were slightly modified in order to achieve consistency in wording and response options across items, and to reflect the specific marketing course being taken.

Results show that achievement goal orientation and perceived usefulness of the course subject matter significantly increase the use of SRL strategies. This is an important finding that contributes to understanding how SRL can improve marketing education. For instance, marketing instructors can improve their students’ performance by emphasizing the application of course concepts to real-life problems students will face throughout their careers. As students’ perceive the course content to be directly tied to their professional success, SRL strategies will be triggered, and learning will be enhanced. More importantly, life-long learning skills can be solidified, better equipping students to face an ever changing, competitive, and complex business environment.