Agenda-based regulation of study-time allocation: when agendas override item-based monitoring

J Exp Psychol Gen. 2009 Aug;138(3):432-47. doi: 10.1037/a0015928.


Theories of self-regulated study assume that learners monitor item difficulty when making decisions about which items to select for study. To complement such theories, the authors propose an agenda-based regulation (ABR) model in which learners' study decisions are guided by an agenda that learners develop to prioritize items for study, given their goals and task constraints. Across 4 experiments, the authors orthogonally manipulated 1 task constraint-the reward structure of the task-with objective item difficulty, so that learners could use either item difficulty or potential reward in deciding how to allocate their study time. Learners studied items, were tested, and then selected half the items for restudy. As predicted by the ABR model, reward structure drove item selection more than did item difficulty, which demonstrates learners' agendas can override the effects of monitoring item difficulty in the allocation of study time.

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Choice Behavior
  • Culture
  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Mental Recall
  • Motivation*
  • Paired-Associate Learning*
  • Serial Learning
  • Time Perception*