Constructing a Novel Instrument to Measure Social-Emotional Self-Regulation in Students Aged 8-18

The Open Psychology Journal 19 Apr 2024 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/0118743501284736240327051824



The authors identified a need for instruments that measure a task model of self-regulation as opposed to an emotion model of self-regulation. Such instruments are particularly applicable to student populations.


This paper explains the construction of one such instrument, Steer Tracking. A four-factor bi-polar conceptual model of four necessary self-regulatory tasks is presented: Trust of Self, Trust of Others, Self-Disclosure and Seeking Change.


A novel assessment method was developed, requiring a participant to imagine a mental space in which they perform the four self-regulatory tasks. The instrument was deployed in populations of students aged 8-18 attending UK primary and secondary schools. Principal Component Analyses evaluated the proposed four-factor structure across two age groups: 8 to 12 years olds (n = 2171) and 13 to 18 years old (n = 658). A Support Vector Machine (SVM) model in a separate sample (n = 2518) evaluated the assessment’s utility in identifying students who display risk on three wellbeing measures: experiencing bullying, thinking about or engaging in self-harm, and struggling to cope with pressure at school.

Results & Discussion

Analyses provided initial support for the validity of the conceptual model and its ability to identify at-risk students. Key instrument features such as non-standardisation and generalised versus in-school comparison are explained.


Application, relevance and potential benefits of the Steer Tracking instrument for educators and school managers are explored.

Keywords: Self-regulation, Social-emotional, School, Student, Assessment, Trust, Self-disclosure, Seeking change.
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