The Complexity of Learner Agency
Mercer, S. (2012). The Complexity of Learner Agency. Apples – Journal of Applied Language Studies Vol. 6, 2, p. 41-59. Retrieved from http://apples.jyu.fi/
Published inApples - Journal of Applied Language Studies
© 2012: The author
Successful language learning depends crucially on the activity and initiative of the learner (van Lier 2008: 163). However, before a learner engages their agentic resources and chooses to exercise their agency in a particular learning context, they have to hold a personal sense of agency – a belief that their behaviour can make a difference to their learning in that setting. In this article, I examine the construct of learner agency through the lens of complexity theory. I attempt to show how a learner’s sense of agency emerges from the complex dynamic interaction of a range of components in multiple levels of context. Considering longitudinal data from a single case study of a tertiary-level EFL learner, the first stage of analysis shows how learner agency needs to be understand as being situated contextually, interpersonally, temporally and intrapersonally. The findings highlight the importance of considering agency from a holistic perspective. The second stage of analysis focuses on one fragment of the agentic system, namely learners’ belief systems. It examines the complex and dynamic interaction of a learner’s self-beliefs, beliefs about language learning including their ‘mindsets’, and beliefs about contexts. Together both sets of findings suggest the potential merits of viewing agency as a complex dynamic system and raise important questions about its nature and development. The article concludes by discussing the challenges facing research employing a complexity perspective and the need to consider the practical benefits of such a view for pedagogy. ...
PublisherCentre for Applied Language Studies at the University of Jyväskylä
ISSN Search the Publication Forum1457-9863
MetadataShow full item record
Showing items with similar title or keywords.
Revisiting Research on L2 Learner Beliefs : Looking Back and Looking Forward Kalaja, Paula; Barcelos, Ana Maria F.; Aro, Mari (Routledge, 2018)
Book review: Kalaja, P., F. Barcelos, A. M., Aro, M., & Ruohotie-Lyhty, M. (2016). Beliefs, Agency and Identity in Foreign Language Learning and Teaching. Pappa, Sotiria (University of Jyväskylä Centre for Applied Language Studies, 2016)This publication is comprised of seven empirical studies on beliefs, agency and identity as a response to the need for contextual, longitudinal and interconnected studies in foreign language learning and teaching. The ...
Towards multilingual competence : examining beliefs and agency in first year university students’ language learner biographies Pirhonen, Hillamaria (Routledge, 2022)As working life across the world is increasingly multilingual, multicultural and multidisciplinary, higher education language teaching is faced with a challenge of how to prepare students for it. Many universities have ...
The Problem of the First Belief : Group Agents and Responsibility Hirvonen, Onni (Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2020)Attributing moral responsibility to an agent requires that the agent is a capable member of a moral community. Capable members of a moral community are often thought of as moral reasoners (or moral persons) and, thus, to ...
Teacher beliefs about student agency in whole-class playing Stolp, Eveliina; Moate, Josephine; Saarikallio, Suvi; Pakarinen, Eija; Lerkkanen, Marja-Kristiina (Taylor & Francis, 2022)This study explores music teachers’ beliefs of student agency in whole-class playing and investigates what characterises student agency through teachers’ values, actions and observations within this unique multimodal and ...