Agency and Motivation to Achieve Language-learning Objectives among Learners in an Academic Environment in France
David N Brown
agency, culture, Motivation, Learning behaviour, Learning tasks
Personal agency within the area of learning may be construed as a process wherein learning objectives are achieved through volitional direction and tacit involvement in learning. Within the present study, perceived agency is the degree to which learners believe that the efforts they are putting into the language-learning process is sufficient with respect to the learning objective. Some learners assume that attending classes assiduously generates an entitlement to pass the course, thereby believing that the learning goal has been achieved. In other words, their perception is that they have displayed a high degree of agency in spite of what may sometimes prove to be a very low degree of personal involvement. Behaviours of this type are observed regularly among French learners of English in university language courses. This article reports on a study that investigated agency and motivation among second language university learners in a large research university in eastern France. The learners (n=134) were attending mandatory language classes that form a part of their academic curriculum and were majoring in either engineering, architecture or digital landscape design. The instruments used for data-collection were (i) a questionnaire (the Behaviour Identification Form) (ii) a pre-test / post-test procedure and (iii), as a second source of insight, a candid appraisal, by an independent examiner, of work produced by the learners. Findings suggest that goal achievement, as expressed by quality of work produced and scores attained on the post-test, tend to be a function of whether or not the learners were supervised rather than a result of inherent agency or motivation.
Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies