Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Few studies have examined whether self-regulation of study time allocation is beneficial for learning. In four experiments, the present dissertation investigated the effectiveness of self-paced study relative to fixed-rate study in which subjects did not regulate their study time. More specifically, the present dissertation examined 1) whether self-paced study enhanced retention and item difficulty compensation (i.e., reduced retention differences between easy and difficult items) relative to fixed-rate study under different levels of monitoring accuracy, and 2) whether improving monitoring accuracy facilitated the effectiveness of self-paced study. In all experiments, subjects studied easy and difficult word pairs either under self-paced study or fixed-rate study. In Experiment 1, subjects studied related and unrelated word pairs that yielded accurate assessments of difficulty, whereas in other experiments, subjects studied forward and backward associated word pairs to impair monitoring accuracy (e.g., forward pair: cheddar – cheese; backward pair: cheese – cheddar). In Experiment 2, half of the subjects received training on metacognitive illusions to improve their monitoring accuracy, whereas others did not. In Experiments 3 and 4, all subjects took a practice test to improve their monitoring accuracy and restudied the same word pairs either under self-paced study or fixed-rate study. In Experiment 3, subjects made JOLs during study phases, whereas in Experiment 4, they did not. The final cued recall tests were immediate in Experiments 1 and 2, and one-week delayed in Experiments 3 and 4. Self-paced study boosted retention relative to fixed-rate study in Experiments 1, 2, and 4 regardless of monitoring accuracy; however, the benefit of self-paced study disappeared when all subjects made JOLs in Experiment 3. Furthermore, improving monitoring accuracy for item difficulty did not influence the efficacy of self-paced study in Experiments 2, 3, and 4. Overall, these findings show that although self-regulation of study time allocation can boost retention, metacognition might not be the main mechanism for effective self-regulation. Improved monitoring accuracy, at least as implemented here, did not facilitate the efficacy of self-paced study.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Henry L. Roediger

Committee Members

Julie Bugg, Andrew Butler, Mark McDaniel, James Wertsch,