Does the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme have potential to enhance the self-regulated learning of high-achieving students and students with learning difficulties?

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctorate in Education


This investigation set out to explore how high-achieving IB Diploma Programme students and those with learning difficulties develop self-regulated learning (SRL) in a context in which teachers are learning to be more student-centred and teach Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills. Particular foci were the strategies students in each group implemented, their perspectives with regard to ‘good teaching,’ and the degree to which they regarded explicit instruction of ATL skills important. A situated model of SRL was the ‘umbrella’ theoretical perspective underpinning this investigation, to which social cognitive and information processing theories contributed valuable insights. 
The first phase of the investigation utilised a qualitative multiple case study design. The cases were four IBDP students with diagnosed learning difficulties and six high-achieving IBDP students. Methods included collecting samples of independent work that reflected participants’ approaches to learning in the IBDP; accompanying written reflections; semi-structured interviews utilising a combination of stimulated recall and open-ended questions; and four years of school report teacher comments to mitigate limitations of self-report data and illuminate the development of participants’ SRL over time. The second phase of this investigation involved focus groups guided by open-ended questions aimed at exploring the extent to which participants believed it was important for their teachers to teach them ATL skills. 
The results of this investigation suggest that the constructivist epistemology and student-centred, process-focused pedagogical approach espoused by the IB are wellaligned with what empirical evidence suggests is SRL-promoting practice. Although the IB Diploma Programme is widely considered an appropriate secondary programme for high-achieving students, the DP’s potential to enhance SRL suggests this programme may also be an appropriate option for some university-bound students with learning difficulties. As the literature review for this investigation uncovered only one previous study pertaining to IB Diploma Programme students with learning difficulties, this is a significant contribution to knowledge with implications for admissions as well as teaching and learning in IB schools. This investigation also indicates that epistemic awareness may play a more significant role in SRL than contemporary theories suggest and, further, that adopting a criteria-driven ‘mastery by performance’ goal orientation may be more beneficial to SRL in some contexts than a ‘mastery’ orientation motivated by intrinsic interest in learning. These contributions represent new directions for researchers who wish to investigate SRL in real educational settings.
Date of Award1 Nov 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorViv Ellis (Supervisor) & David Pepper (Supervisor)

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