Deborah Butler



Not accepting any additional graduate students (MEd, MA, or PhD)


Office: Scarfe Office Block 2315

Scholarly Interests:

Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning; Collaborative, Inquiry-Based Approaches to Professional Learning; Inclusive Education; Case Study Methodology; Learning Disabilities; Strategic Performance Across Contexts In and Out of Schools; Teacher On-Going Professional Education; Professional Education

Community Engagement

Simon Fraser University

Research Projects

Understanding and Fostering Effective, Strategic, and Self-Regulated Learning. This research characterizes the kinds of difficulties learners experience when self-regulating approaches to academic work and the qualities of learning environments (e.g., mediation, collaboration, tasks, formative assessments for learning) that promote successful self-regulated learning. I am particularly interested in characterizing qualities of individuals’ engagement in academic work as situated in context, and how learning is co-regulated/mediated within situated learning communities. (SSHRC funded research).

Educational Practices that Support Adolescents and Adults with Learning Disabilities. This research examines theoretical and practical issues related to the development of strategic approaches to learning by adolescents and adults with learning disabilities in secondary and post-secondary settings. I focus particular attention on students who struggle with reading and writing at the intermediate, secondary, and post-secondary levels. (Research funded by SSHRC and through my work as the Chris Spencer Professor in Dyslexia 1998-2005).

The Strategic Content Approach to Fostering Strategic Learning and Inquiry. “Strategic Content Learning” (SCL) is a theoretically-grounded instructional approach designed to support the needs of adolescents and adults with learning disabilities. SCL promotes academic success by assisting students to learn how to develop personalized strategies for completing important academic tasks (e.g., reading, writing, math problem-solving). I have conducted a series of studies investigating SCL when used to support students with learning disabilities in secondary and postsecondary settings.

Collaboration and Co-Regulation in Teachers’ Professional Development. I am working with teachers to develop and document collaborative, inquiry-based models of professional development that promote meaningful shifts in teachers’ understandings about teaching and learning and, correspondingly, their decision making in practice. My most recent project focuses on how working with teachers to co-construct situated literacy assessments provides profiles of students’ engagement in “learning through reading” that extend understanding about important instructional targets, support teachers’ planning, enacting, and monitoring of targeted instructional practices, and fuel teachers’ participation in on-going cycles of professional learning (SSHRC funded research).

Selected Publications

Butler, D. L. and Cartier, S. C. (2018). Case studies as a methodological framework for studying and assessing self-regulated learning. In D. Schunk & J. Greene (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance (2nd ed.), pp. 352-369. NY: Routledge.

Roll, I., Butler, D. L., Yee, N., Welsh, A., Perez, S., Briseno, A., & Perkins, K., & Bonn, D. (2018). Understanding the impact of guiding inquiry: The relationship between directive support, student attributes, and transfer of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours in inquiry learning. Instructional Science: An International Journal of the Learning Sciences, 1-28. Springer Netherlands.

Butler, D. L., Schnellert, L., & Perry, N. E. (2017). Developing self-regulating learners. Don Mills, ON: Pearson. [Winner of the 2017 Book Award from Exceptionality Education International]

Cartier, S. C., & Butler, D. L. (2016). Comprendre et évaluer l’apprentissage autorégulé dans des activités complexes [Understanding and assessing self-regulated learning in complex activities]. In  B. Noël & S.C. Cartier (Eds). De la métacognition à l’apprentissage autorégulé [From metacognition to self-regulated learning] (pp. 41-54). Brussels: DeBoeck.

Voyer, S., Cuncic, C., Butler, D. L., MacNeil, K., Watling, C., &  Hatala, R. (2016). Investigating conditions for meaningful feedback in the context of an evidence-based feedback programme. Medical Education, 50, 943-954.

Butler, D. L. (2015). Metacognition and self-regulation in learning. In D. Scott & E. Hargreaves (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook on Learning (pp. 291-309). London, UK: Sage.

Butler, D. L., & Schnellert, L. (2015). Success for students with learning disabilities: What does self-regulation have to do with it ? In T. Cleary (Ed.), Self-regulated learning interventions with at-risk youth: Enhancing adaptability, performance, and well-being (pp. 89-111). Washington DC: APA Press.

Martel, V., Cartier, S. C., & Butler, D. L. (2015). Apprendre en lisant en histoire en recourant au manuel scolaire ou à un corpus d’oervres documentaires et de fiction. Revue de Recherches en Littératie Médiatique Multimodale, vol. 2 (2015). Available at:

Butler, D. L., Schnellert, L., & MacNeil, K. (2014, on-line; 2015, in print). Collaborative inquiry and distributed agency in educational change: A case study of a multi-level community of inquiry. Journal of Educational Change16(1), 1-26. DOI: 10.1007/s10833-014-9227-z

Martel, V., Cartier, S. C., & Butler, D. L. (2014, August). Pratiques pédagogiques visant l’apprentissage par la lecture en sciences humaines au primaire. In M. C. Larouche and A. Araujo-Oliveira (Eds,), Les sciences humaines à l’école primaire québécoise, Regards croisés sur un domaine de recherche et d’intervention (Chapter 3). Presses de l’Université du Québec.

Butler, D. L., & Brydges, R. (2013). Learning in the health professions: What does self-regulation have to do with it? Medical Education, 46(1), 71-79.

Lawanto, O., Butler, D. L., Cartier, S., Santoso, H. B., & Goodridge, W. (2013). Task interpretation, cognitive, and metacognitive strategies of higher and lower performers in an engineering design project: An exploratory study of college freshmen. International Journal of Engineering Education, 29(2), 459-475.

Butler, D. L., Schnellert, L., & Cartier, S. C. (2013). Layers of self- and co-regulation: Teachers’ co-regulating learning and practice to foster students’ self-regulated learning through reading. Education Research International, vol. 2013, Article ID 845694, 19 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/845694. Available at:

Lawanto, O., Butler, D. L., Cartier, S., Santoso, H. B., Lawanto, K. N., & Clark, D. (2013, in-print). An Exploratory Study of Self-Regulated Learning Strategies in a Design Project by Students in Grades 9-12. Design & Technology Education: an International Journal, 18(1), 44-57.

Butler, D. L., & Schnellert, L. (2012). Collaborative inquiry in teacher professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28, 1206-1220.
Brydges, R. & Butler, D. L. (2012). A reflective analysis of medical education research on self-regulation in learning and practice. Medical Education, 46, 71-79.

Butler, D. L., Cartier, S. C., Schnellert, L., Gagnon, F, & Giammarino, M. (2011). Secondary students’ self-regulated engagement in reading: Researching self-regulation as situated in context. Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling, 53(1), 73-105.

Butler, D. L. (2011). Investigating self-regulated learning using in-depth case studies. In B. J. Zimmerman, & D. H. Schunk (Eds.), Handbook of Self-Regulation of Learning and Performance (pp. 346-360). NY: Rutledge.

Cartier, S. C., Butler, D. L., & Bouchard, N. (2010). Teachers working together to foster self-regulated learning through reading by students in an elementary school located in a disadvantaged area. Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling, 52(4), 382-418.

Butler, D. L., Pollock, C., Nomme, K., & Nakonechny, J. (2008). Promoting authentic inquiry in the sciences: Challenges faced in redefining first-year university students’ scientific epistemology. In B. M. Shore, M. W. Aulls & M. A. B. Delcourt (Eds.), Inquiry in education: Overcoming barriers to successful implementation (pp. 301-324). NY, NY: Erlbaum: Taylor & Francis Group.

Schnellert, L., Butler, D. L., & Higginson, S. (2008). Co-constructors of data, co-constructors of meaning: Teacher professional development in an age of accountability. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24 (3), 725-750.

Cartier, S. C., Butler, D. L., & Janosz, M. (2008). Autorégulation des élèves fréquentant des écoles secondaires de milieux défavorisés dans une activité d’apprentissage par la lecture. (Self-regulated learning of students within disadvantaged schools in a reading to learn activity). Revue des Sciences de l’Education, 33(3), 601-622.

Butler, D. L. (2006). Frames of inquiry in Educational Psychology: Beyond the Quantitative-Qualitative Divide. In P. A. Alexander & P. H. Winne (eds.), Handbook of Educational Psychology, 2nd ed (pp. 903-929). Washington, DC: APA.

Butler, D. L. (2005). L’autorégulation de l’apprentissage et la collaboration dans le développement professional des enseignants (Self-regulated learning and collaboration in the professional development of teachers). Revue des Sciences de l’Education, 31, 55-78.

Butler, D. L., Novak Lauscher, H. J., & Beckingham, B. (2005). Promoting strategic learning by eight-grade students struggling in mathematics: A report of three case studies. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 20, 156-174.

Butler, D. L., & Cartier, S. (2004). Promoting students’ active and productive interpretation of academic work: A Key to successful teaching and learning. Teachers College Record, 106, 1729-1758.

Butler, D. L., Novak Lauscher, H. J., Jarvis-Selinger, S., & Beckingham, B. (2004). Collaboration and self-regulation in teachers’ professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 435-455.

Butler, D. L. (2004). Adults with Learning Disabilities. In B. Y. L. Wong (Ed.), Learning about Learning Disabilities (3rd ed.) (pp. 565-598). Toronto: Academic Press.

Butler, D. L. (2003). Structuring instruction to promote self-regulated learning by adolescents and adults with learning disabilities. Exceptionality, 11(1), 39-60.

Butler, D. L. (2002). Individualizing instruction in self-regulated learning. Theory into Practice, 41, 81-92.

Butler, D. L. (2002). Qualitative approaches to investigating self-regulated learning: Contributions and challenges. Educational Psychologist, 37(1), 59-63.

Butler, D. L., Elaschuk, C. L., & Poole, S. (2000). Promoting strategic writing by postsecondary students with learning disabilities: A report of three case studies. Learning Disability Quarterly, 23, 196-213.

Butler, D. L. (1998). The Strategic Content Learning approach to promoting self-regulated learning: A summary of three studies. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 682-697.

Butler, D. L. (1998). Metacognition and learning disabilities. In B. Y. L. Wong (ed.), Learning about learning disabilities (2nd ed.) (pp. 277-307). Toronto: Academic Press.

Butler, D. L. (1998). The Strategic Content Learning approach to promoting self-regulated learning. In B. J. Zimmerman & D. Schunk (eds.), Developing self-regulated learning: From teaching to self-reflective practice (pp. 160-183). New York: Guildford Publications, Inc.

Butler, D. L. (1998). In search of the architect of learning: A commentary on scaffolding as a metaphor for instructional interactions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 31 (4), 374-385.

Butler, D. L. (1995). Promoting strategic learning by postsecondary students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28, 170-190.

Butler, D. L., & Winne, P. H. (1995). Feedback and self-regulated learning: A theoretical synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 65, 245-281.

Butler, D. L. (1994). From learning strategies to strategic learning: Promoting self-regulation by postsecondary students with learning disabilities. Canadian Journal of Special Education, 4, 69-101.