Hilde Van Keer

Self-regulated learning is a team sport that relies on teachers, learners, and school administrators not to drop the ball. What’s more, researchers like Dr. Hilde Van Keer play on the same team as practitioners: 

“The essence of educational research in our group is to go beyond research about educational practice, and to focus on research with and for educational practice.” (Dr. Van Keer)

It was in a community service learning project launched 15 years ago that Dr. Van Keer first discovered that many teachers are looking for support in their implementation of self-regulated learning. Since then, Dr. Van Keer has spent her time researching in schools and building relationships with teachers that allow for a reciprocal exchange of knowledge about self-regulated learning. The focus of her studies moved from students, to teachers, to schools as a whole, finding ways to merge self-regulated learning into a system that supports each group in their continuous growth. While teachers can often hold misconceptions about self-regulated learning, Dr. Van Keer’s research is motivated by the power they have to transform their classroom in their daily practice. When school-wide commitments to self-regulated learning are in place, the challenges that Dr. Van Keer first observed in schools 15 years ago can be triumphed over.

It’s Not Only About the Individual Teacher: Self-regulated learning in a whole-school context

Dr. Van Keer strives to use her research partnerships to influence transformative change in schools throughout Flanders (Belgium) and beyond. Her work has given her the opportunity to debunk common myths that prevent teachers from implementing self-regulated learning in the classroom. While it is a commonly held belief that elementary school students are too young to begin self-regulated learning, Dr. Van Keer stresses that the development of this complex skill must start early and build gradually throughout the school continuum. Deliberately marrying self-regulated learning activities with authentic, daily classroom tasks helps schools avoid overcrowding their curriculum or overwhelming teachers and students. Dr. Van Keer highlights that when self-regulated learning competencies are brought to the forefront in a whole-school context, it is possible for teachers to continue to focus on consolidating the needs of an increasingly diverse student population. Looking to the future, studies on upscaling professional development in schools where teachers work together as a professional learning community are underway. With pedagogical support and research-practitioner partnerships, schools can focus on developing a vision of self-regulated learning implementation that leads to transformative policy change.

 “We strive for self-regulated, autonomous children who, when they leave here at the end of primary school, are able to take control of their own learning, to manage themselves and who have a positive self-image, who know what they are good at and what their working points are.” (School Leader)

Though research in authentic school contexts can be “messy,” the reciprocity in research-practitioner partnerships is energizing for Dr. Van Keer. First-hand knowledge from classrooms can sometimes be the missing puzzle piece in the world of educational research, and likewise research is seldom implemented in the classroom if it remains inaccessible. The school leaders, teachers, and students involved in Dr. Van Keer’s research play a key role in the shift from more traditional research models to educational partnerships that are complex and rewarding. Dr. Van Keer hopes that partnerships between schools and researchers continue to grow as more schools frame specific goals for self-regulated learning and teachers become communities of self-regulated learners themselves. The virtues of self-reflection and constructive collaboration underlying Dr. Van Keer’s research are reflected in the goals of our educational institutions, and they represent a compass for the future development of self-regulated learning in students and teachers alike.


Hilde Van Keer, PhD
Professor, University of Ghent, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Department of Educational Studies

Head of the Research Group – Language, Learning, Innovation

General Research Interests: 

  • Metacognition, Self-regulated learning and implementation of self-regulated learning in classes and schools 
  • Reading and writing (learning & instruction) 
  • Peer learning