Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

Academic Engagement in Self-Regulated, Cooperative Foreign Language Learning

Carmen M. Amerstorfer, University of Klagenfurt (Austria)


The academic engagement of learners is not a clear-cut, rigid construct. Instead, it depends on a multitude of factors that can relate to the individuals involved in the learning processes, their relationships with each other, the applied teaching methodology, and fluctuating contextual influences. The overlapping, interacting components that shape engagement in foreign language learning can be cognitive, metacognitive, affective, social, task-related, communicative, and foreign language-related (Amerstorfer & Münster-Kistner, forthcoming). These components feature with varying magnitude in the relationships learners maintain with others, which creates opportunities for teachers to enhance the academic engagement of their students and increase their enthusiasm for learning (Mercer & Dörnyei, 2020). In this talk, we present an inspirational example of two passionate teachers – firm believers in self-regulated cooperative learning – who advocate a combination of meaningful, enjoyable learning experiences and caring, supportive teacher guidance. After defining the concept of academic engagement and its essential components, we explore how the individual components of learner engagement intertwine and what other potential influences there are. The second part of the talk focuses on teacher actions to benefit learner engagement and draws on practical experiences with coaching and learner self-study in the context of cooperative learning. The presented empirical information, which is part of a larger-scale study (Amerstorfer & Shedd, forthcoming), was collected in semi-structured interviews with teachers who apply a modern adaptation of the Dalton pedagogy (Parkhurst, 1922) and integrate other engagement-enhancing measures in their teaching. Rather than instructors, they view themselves as coaches whose job it is to support their students according to individual abilities, needs, and contextual circumstances.

Keywords: Academic engagement, self-regulation, cooperative learning.


  • Amerstorfer, Carmen M., and Clara Freiin von Münster-Kistner. Forthcoming. “Academic Engagement and Student-teacher Relationships in Problem-based Learning.” Frontiers in Psychology.
  • Amerstorfer, Carmen M., and Christopher Blake Shedd. Forthcoming. “Positive Relationships and Teacher Well-being in Cooperative Learning: Contentment, Confidence, and Motivation.” In Activating and Engaging Learners and Teachers: Perspectives for English Language Education, Edited by Carmen M. Amerstorfer, Max von Blanckenburg, and Christopher Blake Shedd. Tübingen: Narr Francke Attempto.
  • Mercer, Sarah, and Dörnyei, Zoltán. 2020. Engaging Language Learners in Contemporary Classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Parkhurst, Helen. 1922. Education on the Dalton Plan. New York: E.P. Dutton & Company.

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