Region of Proximal Learning  

With increasing focus on how people use predictive metacognitions to exert control over their own future learning and memory, the account offered by the discrepancy reduction model no longer appears to be viable. When given free choice, people do not allocate their time selectively to the most difficult items, as that model postulates. Instead they prefer items of easy and medium difficulty. Only as the items of easy and medium difficulty are learned, do they turn to the truly difficult items. This pattern of results suggests that people attempt to selectively allocate their study time to their own Region of Proximal Learning (RPL)—that is, to items that are neither too difficult nor too easy for them to learn. Our research on RPL has been conducted with both children and adults.


  1. Xu, J. & Metcalfe, J.(2016). Studying in the region of proximal learning reduces mind wandering. Memory & Cognition.
  2. Metcalfe, J. & Jacobs, W. J. (2010). People's study time allocation and its relation to animal foraging. Behavioral Processes, 83, 213-221.
  3. Metcalfe, J. (2009). Metacognitive judgments and control of study. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 159-163.
  4. Metcalfe, J. & Finn, B. (2008). Evidence that judgments of learning are causally related to study choice. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 15,174-179.
  5. Kornell, N., & Metcalfe, J. (2006a). Study efficacy and the region of proximal learning framework. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32, 609-622.
  6. Metcalfe, J., & Kornell, N. (2005). A region of proximal learning model of study time allocation. Journal of Memory and Language, 52, 463-477.
  7. Metcalfe, J. & Kornell, N. (2003). The dynamics of learning and allocation of study time to a region of proximal learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 132, 530-542.
  8. Metcalfe, J. (2002). Is study time allocated selectively to a region of proximal learning? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 131, 349-363.
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