Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 17

Accepted Abstracts

Reconceptualising the Portfolio? Enhancing Student Motivation through the Creation of an Autonomous Learning Project

Margaret Gomes, University of Aveiro (Portugal)


Increasingly greater emphasis has been placed on student centred teaching/learning pedagogical practices in order to motivate students and enhance learning. This paper contends that by engaging students in tasks that they have chosen themselves, they can take greater responsibility for their learning and thus increase their language learning and competence in English. According to Keller (2017), motivation is key in order for students to achieve their desired goals and obtain a feeling of accomplishment. Keller’s ARCS model (2010) has been implemented to turn input factors into positive outputs, by increasing Attention, demonstrate the Relevance of the tasks in order to build their Confidence to achieve challenging objectives in order to gain Satisfaction. This paper outlines a process where students were asked to create an autonomous learning project made up of ten tasks of their choosing throughout a semester in higher education as a complement to the programme of the corresponding curricular unit. The premise underpinning this project is that by choosing their own tasks, students will be more motivated to engage in English activities outside the classroom and thus increase their language learning and competence, as well as enhance autonomy and gain a linguistic advantage. The paper also aims to ascertain learner perceptions of the experience and in what way the development of the portfolio has heightened learner motivation, engagement and autonomy through the implementation of a questionnaire about the process of creating the portfolio. Results will demonstrate that an overwhelming number of students not only enjoyed creating the portfolios, but also felt motivated to produce them and that the process helped their English language learning. It is hoped that this paper will provide an insight into how language learners can use their personal interests to make them more engaged, competent and autonomous in their foreign language learning and outline the potential long-term benefits of a process such as this one in the language classroom.

Keywords: higher education, portfolio, motivation, autonomy, language learning.


  • Keller, J. M. (2010) Motivational Design for Learning and Performance: The ARCS model approach. New York: Springer, 2010
  • Keller, J. M. (2017) What are the ARCS Categories? ARCSMODEL.COM Available at accessed 27/07/21

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