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Measuring L2 Engagement: A Review of Issues and Applications



In this chapter, our objective is to explore the past, present and future of measuring the construct of engagement. We first introduce some of the more prominent approaches to measuring student engagement from general education, including student self-report, experience sampling, teacher ratings of students, interviews and observations (Hofkens & Ruzek, 2019). We describe how each approach has been applied to measuring engagement, examine their validity and reliability and discuss the strengths and weakness of each measurement approach for L2 researchers. We also examine several widely used self-report measures in student engagement research with reference to their operational definitions, use, samples and psychometric properties. We elaborate on considerations related to the measurement of engagement in L2 learning, such as the differentiation between L2 engagement and related constructs, the variety of purposes for measuring L2 engagement, and measuring general versus domain-specific L2 engagement (e.g. task- and skill-specific engagement). Finally, we summarize the limitations of currently available instruments for eliciting engagement data and discuss directions for future development in the field.
Engagement in the
Edited by
Phil Hiver, Ali H. Al-Hoorie and
Sarah Mercer
Bristol • Blue Ridge Summit
4836.indb 3 26-10-2020 12:01:02
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Names: Hiver, Phil, 1984 - editor. | Al-Hoorie, Ali H., 1982- editor. |
Mercer, Sarah, editor.
Title: Student Engagement in the Language Classroom/Edited by Phil Hiver,
Ali H. Al-Hoorie and Sarah Mercer.
Description: Bristol, UK; Blue Ridge Summit, PA : Multilingual Matters,
2021. | Series: Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching: 11 |
Includes bibliographical references and index. | Summary: “Through a mix of
conceptual and empirical chapters, this book defines engagement for the field of
language learning. It serves as an authoritative guide for anyone wishing to
understand the unique insights engagement can give into language learning and
teaching, or anyone conducting their own research on engagement within and
beyond the classroom”—Provided by publisher.
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Subjects: LCSH: Language and languages—Study and teaching—Psychological
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Motivation in education.
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4836.indb 4 26-10-2020 12:01:02
Measuring L2 Engagement:
A Review of Issues and
Shiyao (Ashlee) Zhou, Phil Hiver and
Engagement is considered a ‘new kid on the block’ (Reschly &
Christenson, 2012: 4), particularly compared with other more mature and
established constructs such as motivation. Yet, despite the relatively short
history of engagement research, it has received an exponential increase in
popularity (Sinatra etal., 2015). Many stakeholders would agree that
engagement is a leading indicator of performance and ultimate attain-
ment, and thus a key contribution classroom instruction can make to stu-
dents’ ultimate learning is enhancing their engagement (Mercer, 2019;
Philp & Duchesne, 2016).
Engagement has achieved this popularity with researchers, policy-
makers and practitioners for several reasons. First, engagement plays a
critical role in educational outcomes and in learning success (Hattie,
2009). Second, the nature of engagement as a ‘meta-construct’ combining
observable behaviors, internal cognitions, emotions and sociocultural
interactions (Fredricks etal., 2016) makes it appealing to many scholars.
Third, practitioners seem to both recognize and readily grasp the phe-
nomenological manifestations of engagement and disengagement, given
their clear behavioral dimensions (although see Chapter 8 by Mercer
et al., this volume). Finally, its potential as a target for interventions
remains strong. The idea that engagement may be malleable and respon-
sive to intervention draws attention from all sides as evidence builds for
promoting engagement across social and academic contexts (Appleton
etal., 20 08).
In educational psychology, studies on engagement have centered
around four broad contexts: community, school, classrooms and learning
activity (Skinner & Pitzer, 2012). In the community, engagement concerns
4836.indb 75 26-10-2020 12:01:07
learners’ degree of participation and active membership in school and
other community organizations. At the school level, outcomes of engage-
ment are routinely measured through attendance, dropout or retention
rates (Finn, 1989). In foreign and second language (L2) classroom set-
tings, relevant indicators of engagement are associated with interaction,
involvement or participation in class and with outcomes related to lan-
guage use and development (Philp & Duchesne, 2016). Within a learning
activity, engagement refers to the quality and intensity of learners’ contri-
bution to completing a specific task during class time. Because engage-
ment can occur in these and other settings, a point further illustrated by
the various empirical chapters of this volume, definitions and operation-
alizations of engagement are rich and varied (Reschly & Christenson,
2012). Consensus in the academic literature is that student engagement is
a multifaceted construct with multiple, at times interwoven, dimensions
(see also Chapter 2 by Sang & Hiver, this volume). Empirical studies of
engagement might focus on the cognitive, emotional, social or behavioral
facets that lead to effective learning (Philp & Duchesne, 2016).
Additionally, because of the important role engagement appears to play in
the student learning process across contexts and within numerous learn-
ing subdomains, the need for reliable, valid and domain-specific measures
of student engagement is imperative (Anderson, 2017).
In this chapter, our objective is to explore the past, present and future
of measuring the construct of engagement. We first introduce some of the
more prominent approaches to measuring student engagement from gen-
eral education, including student self-report, experience sampling, teacher
ratings of students, interviews and observations (Hofkens & Ruzek,
2019). We describe how each approach has been applied to measuring
engagement, examine their validity and reliability and discuss the
strengths and weakness of each measurement approach for L2 research-
ers. We also examine several widely used self-report measures in student
engagement research with reference to their operational definitions, use,
samples and psychometric properties. We elaborate on considerations
related to the measurement of engagement in L2 learning, such as the dif-
ferentiation between L2 engagement and related constructs, the variety of
purposes for measuring L2 engagement, and measuring general versus
domain-specific L2 engagement (e.g. task- and skill-specific engagement).
Finally, we summarize the limitations of currently available instruments
for eliciting engagement data and discuss directions for future develop-
ment in the field.
Defining the Meta-construct of Engagement
Engagement is action (‘energy in action’ according to Lawson &
Lawson, 2013: 435). Previous work has posited that engagement is mani-
fested not only in its behavioral facet (e.g. active participation), but also
76 Part 1: Conceptual Chapters
4836.indb 76 26-10-2020 12:01:07
in demonstrations of action through the cognitive (e.g. tracking a speaker
for attention) and social dimensions (e.g. back channeling in interaction),
as well as in students’ emotional responses to learning activities and sub-
jective perceptions (Baralt etal., 2016; Henry & Thorsen, 2018; Lambert
etal., 2 017).
Cognitive engagement refers to mental processes such as the deliberate
allocation and maintenance of attention and intellectual eort (Helme &
Clarke, 2001). This cognitive dimension also implicates the active use of
relevant self-regulated strategies that facilitate these mental processes
(Philp & Duchesne, 2016). In L2 classroom settings, research on cognitive
engagement has focused primarily on verbal manifestations, including
peer interactions, asking questions, volunteering answers, exchanging
ideas, oering feedback, providing direction, informing and explaining
(Helme & Clarke, 2001). Non-verbal communication, private speech and
exploratory talk (i.e. learner discourse that occurs as they attempt to
make sense of learning) are also seen by some as further indicators of this
dimension (see e.g. Mercer & Hodgkinson, 2008).
Behavioral engagement corresponds with the amount and quality of
learners’ in-class participation and time spent on task (Reschly &
Christenson, 2012). For their part, Philp and Duchesne (2016) propose
that learners’ degree of eort, persistence and active involvement are lead-
ing indicators of behavioral engagement. Action is key, and the degree and
quality of time students spend in active participation repeatedly appears
as a positive predictor of academic achievement (Gettinger & Walter,
2012). Of course, even with this clear link between behavioral engagement
and desired learning outcomes, the true potential of engagement lies in the
interaction of its dierent facets not on any one dimension in isolation (see
also Chapter 6 by Sulis & Philp, this volume; Chapter 7 by Carver etal.,
this volume).
Definitions of emotional engagement vary with the focus of research,
from school level to specific learning activity (Skinner & Pitzer, 2012). In
most instances, emotional engagement refers to the aective character of
learners’ involvement (see also Chapter 9 by Phung et al., this volume).
Enthusiasm, interest and enjoyment – essentially markers of one’s aective
involvement during class time – have been identified as critical indicators
of emotional engagement in the classroom (Skinner etal., 2009). Perhaps
unsurprisingly, these emotions – both positive (e.g. enthusiasm, interest)
and negative (e.g. anxiety, hopelessness) – that are elicited by the learning
context, by peers and by instructional tasks and activities are assumed to
play a key role in learners’ eort (Pekrun & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2012).
Although the social dimension is not included in all models of engage-
ment, an increasing number of scholars agree that social interactions play
an essential role in the types of engagement that foster student learning
(Fredricks etal., 2016). This aspect of engagement is defined in light of the
social forms of activity and involvement that are prevalent in communities
Measuring L2 Engag ement: A Review of Is sues and Applications 77
4836.indb 77 26-10-2020 12:01:07
of language learning and use (see also Chapter 10 by Fukuda etal., this
volume), including participation and interaction with interlocutors, and
the quality of such social interactions (Linnenbrink-Garcia etal., 2011).
The social dimension is clearly prominent both within and outside of lan-
guage classrooms (Philp & Duchesne, 2016), and this dimension may be
distinguished from other forms of engagement when considering that it is
explicitly relational in nature and its purpose is interaction with and sup-
port of others.
One domain-specific type of engagement has been prominent in the
work of Agneta Svalberg (see Chapter 3). Svalberg (2009) has described
engagement with language (EWL) as the process through which Language
Awareness is developed. In her work on the topic, she oers the following
In the context of language learning and use, Engagement with Language
is a cognitive, aective, and/or social process in which the learner is the
agent and language is the object (and sometimes vehicle). The learner is
Cognitively: the engaged individual is alert, pays focused attention
and constructs their own knowledge.
Aectively: the engaged individual has a positive, purposeful, willing
and autonomous disposition towards the language and/or what it
Socially: the engaged individual is interactive and initiating. (Svalberg,
2009: 247; see also Svalberg, 2012)
Related to this, but developed in separate lines of research is the notion of
engagement in task-based interaction (Dao, 2019; Lambert etal., 2017).
Within language learning research, the level of granularity is at times nar-
rower even than the classroom and often focused more precisely on mean-
ing- or language-focused classroom tasks. Task engagement, within these
settings, has been described as the degree to which language learners iden-
tify with the objectives of the task, relate to its content, and make eective
use of the sources available to carry out it (e.g. Bygate & Samuda, 2009).
Put dierently, task engagement is learners’ energy in action observable
during the course of exchanging ideas and information with an interlocu-
tor or while completing a language-related task.
Given these multiple dimensions and the diverse topical areas of con-
cern that engagement touches on (Philp & Duchesne, 2016; Svalberg,
2009), engagement can be positioned as a meta-construct that unites
many separate lines of research within the field.
Researching Engagement
Let us now segue to considerations regarding how these definitions are
used for engagement research. The educational research community has
78 Part 1: Conceptual Chapters
4836.indb 78 26-10-2020 12:01:08
witnessed a burst of interest and activity around the construct of engage-
ment over the last two decades. This points to a clear desire to probe the
nature of engagement, capture the necessary conditions for engagement,
explore the development of engagement over time, maintain and sustain
learners’ engagement as well as re-engage disaected students. However,
several unsettled issues that would facilitate this program of research have
yet to be resolved. The first and foremost of these is related to the fuzzi-
ness surrounding how engagement is operationalized. Reschly and
Christenson (2012) caution that engagement still suers from a jingle (i.e.
dierent terms being used to refer to identical notions or constructs) and
jangle (i.e. the same terminology being used to describe distinct notions
and constructs) in the way it is defined and operationalized. This state of
aairs is no dierent in our field (Hiver etal., in preparation). Given the
variety of operational definitions used across studies it is not uncommon
to discover, for instance, that one researcher’s conceptualization of cogni-
tive engagement is used as another’s measurement of behavioral engage-
ment (Christenson etal., 2012). Some see engagement as an outcome that
predicts learning, while others see it as a resource progressively built
during the process of learning (e.g. Janosz, 2012). This state of aairs is
puzzling to an observer and may be due to the broad conceptual defini-
tions of engagement, the overlap of its dimensions and the theoretical
starting point and perspectives of various scholars. The consequence of
this lack of clarity is that the unique contribution of engagement to stu-
dent learning and development has yet to reach its full potential (Eccles &
Wang, 2012).
In addition to these operational issues, a number of methodological
challenges related to eliciting, measuring and analyzing this multidimen-
sional construct remain. As experts have argued, ‘one of the challenges
with research on student engagement is the large variation in the measure-
ment of this construct, which has made it challenging to compare findings
across studies’ (Fredricks & McColskey, 2012: 763). To date, the most
frequently used approach in evaluating engagement is self-reports.
However, as some reviews of designs and measurement techniques for
engagement show, very few valid and psychometrically sound measures of
student engagement exist with which to assess the multidimensional
nature of engagement (Hofkens & Ruzek, 2019). Exacerbating matters,
similarly worded items (e.g. I work hard and contribute to class) in some
of the most widely used instruments are featured inconsistently or included
throughout behavioral, emotional, cognitive and social engagement
scales. To assess engagement across these dimensions as accurately as pos-
sible, it is essential to take stock of existing tools for measuring engage-
ment and to evaluate the most commonly used data collection methods.
This may be the first step to developing more systematic and better inte-
grated quantitative and qualitative methods (Glanville & Wildhagen,
2007) that can also accommodate scholars who wish to assess longer-term
Measuring L2 Engag ement: A Review of Is sues and Applications 79
4836.indb 79 26-10-2020 12:01:08
engagement and variations across learning tasks and conditions, as well
as engagement in both individual and group settings (see e.g. Hiver &
Al-Hoorie, 2020, for an extended discussion on such designs).
Data Collection Methods in Engagement Research
Various approaches to measuring student engagement are found
throughout education and the learning sciences more broadly. These
include surveys and questionnaires, direct observations, expert (e.g.
teacher, caretaker) ratings, interviews and experience sampling methods.
Each of these approaches to measuring student engagement comes with its
own strengths and limitations. In this section, we examine each approach
in turn. Table 5.1 provides a helpful summary of these.
Engagement surveys and questionnaires
Self-report surveys and questionnaires are the most frequently used
methods for measuring student engagement. In this type of measurement,
students are presented with items describing dierent facets of engage-
ment and are directed to choose the response from a range of possibilities
that best describes them. Anchors might include the degree of agreement
(i.e. ‘strongly agree/disagree’), or the extent to which an item describes the
respondent (i.e. ‘very much/not at all like me) or is true of them (i.e. ‘very
true/untrue of me’). Surveys and questionnaires can be used to assess vari-
ous domains of engagement. To date there is no single instrument that is
accepted for use across contexts – just as there is none that is accepted as
a field-specific measure of engagement. Yet, the state of aairs in educa-
tional psychology and the learning sciences is striking when considering
that surveys and questionnaires (some administered to over 350,00 0 stu-
dents!) continue to be used as a main source of data. Fredricks and
McColskey’s (2012) review provides a comprehensive introduction to such
Although there are a small number of such instruments that are con-
tent- or domain-specific, such as math engagement (Kong etal., 2003),
science (Sinatra etal., 2015) or reading engagement (Wigfield etal., 2008),
the majority of these surveys assess learning engagement in a domain-
general way. In second language acquisition (SLA) specifically, recently,
Hiver etal. (2020) developed and piloted a set of survey scales to assess
learners’ engagement in the language classroom across the cognitive,
aective, behavioral and social domains (see Appendix 5.1). More recently,
this questionnaire has been used in a sequence of studies investigating the
role of learners’ (N > 400, from both China and Colombia) engagement
and persistence on their task performance (i.e. their syntactic and lexical
complexity, rate and amount of language production, accuracy, time on
task) under various task conditions.
80 Part 1: Conceptual Chapters
4836.indb 80 26-10-2020 12:01:08
Measuring L2 Engag ement: A Review of Is sues and Applications 81
Table 5.1 Commonly employed approaches to eliciting engagement data
Student engagement
Advantages Disadvantages Sample studies
surveys and
Suitable for psychometric testing
and validation (e.g. item analysis,
factor analysis and item response
Simple and straightforward
Measures can be standardized
Limited to self-report;
Lack of real-time data collection;
Participant bias and other
drawbacks of self-report
Wang etal. (2016): 4-scale survey of students’ math and science
engagement and its psychometric properties
Wang etal. (2019): domain-general survey of secondary school
learners’ (N = 3632) engagement and disengagement
Hiver etal. (2020): 3-scale survey (adapted from Wang etal.,
2016) of learners’ language learning engagement. Translated
into multiple languages
observations and
expert ratings
Spans quantitative or qualitative
Results are detailed and descriptive;
Able to capture real-time data;
Can link contextual factors to
student engagement levels;
Measures can be standardized
Results in individual or small
samples at a time;
Time-consuming to assess;
Not easily generalizable without
Lacks ability to clearly measure
aective and/or cognitive
aspects of engagement
Järvelä etal. (2016): Classroom observations (84 hours) of
collaborative engagement and self-regulated learning in
dierent task conditions
Baralt etal. (2016): Expert ratings of L2 learners’ (N = 40)
engagement in face to face and online task-based interaction
Lambert etal. (2017): Expert ratings of L2 students’ (N = 32)
cognitive, behavioral and social engagement on learner-
generated vs teacher-generated tasks
4836.indb 81 26-10-2020 12:01:08
82 Part 1: Conceptual Chapters
Table 5.1 Continued.
Student engagement
Advantages Disadvantages Sample studies
interviews Good for collecting cognitive
processing data;
Identifies contextual and
background factors of student
Able to collect in-depth information
on student engagement
One interview at a time;
Time-consuming to assess;
Socially desirable responses;
Interviewer training dependent;
Dicult to generalize
idiosyncratic findings to a
Fredricks etal. (2016): In-depth interviews with math and
science students (N = 106) to explore multiple dimensions of
their engagement
Han and Hyland (2015): Interviews (one of multiple data
sources) examining L2 students’ (N = 4) cognitive, behavioral
and aective engagement with teacher written corrective
feedback (WCF)
Hiver etal., 2019: Longitudinal life-story interviews of whether,
how and why L2 learners (N = 8) engaged in opportunities for
language learning and use
experience sampling Real-time engagement
Tracks length and
intensity of engagement;
Observations recorded without
interference from an observer;
Multiple students’ data
collected simultaneously;
Many data points over time able to
trace changes in development
Time-consuming and resource-
Quality of data depends on
participation of student
Struggle to include range
of items that represent
multidimensional nature of
constructs in each sampling
Not suitable for younger
children, student participants
Salmela-Aro et al. (2016): Signal-contingent study of situational
demands and resources associations with students’ (N = 487)
emotional engagement
Sherno et al. (2016): Signal-contingent study of associations
between quality of the learning environment and student
(N=108) engagement in six subject areas
Schmidt et al. (2018): Signal-contingent study of relations
between students’ (N = 244) momentary engagement and
science learning activities/choices
Source: Adapted from Anderson, 2017: 23–24
4836.indb 82 26-10-2020 12:01:08
The strengths of these self-report designs for measuring engagement
relate to the practicality of administering them and the modest investment
of resources needed for data elicitation purposes. First, multi-item
response scales present far fewer practical challenges than other methods
when administering such instruments in classroom settings (Dörnyei &
Taguchi, 2010). Such surveys can be administered to large and diverse
samples of students simultaneously, particularly using online distribution
methods, with a relatively low expenditure of time and eort. This makes
it possible to collect data across various levels, at multiple time points, and
compare results from dierent institutions with broad geographic repre-
sentations. In addition, the quantitative feature of surveys and question-
naires readily lend themselves to necessary psychometric testing and
validation through, for example, reliability and validity testing
Another reason why self-report instruments may highlight important
information is that, in contrast to the purely objective data on behavioral
indicators such as tardiness, instances of active participation, or percent-
age of assignment completion that are features of measurement at the
school engagement level, self-report can be useful to elicit data from stu-
dents’ viewpoint and acknowledge the inherent subjectivity of engage-
ment (Appleton eta l., 2006; Garcia & Pintrich, 1996). Self-report methods
are especially useful for measuring emotional and cognitive engagement,
which tend to be elusive and less easily observable or inferred from exter-
nal behaviors.
Despite the advantages of surveys and questionnaires highlighted in
the literature, there are still some concerns about this approach to measur-
ing engagement. These include, among other things, the very nature of
self-report that risks participant bias and may skew results by drawing a
less accurate picture of student engagement than desired, and the lack of
real-time data given that such response-scales are typically retrospective
in their time reference and are situation-general in their context/domain
specificity (Fredricks & McColskey, 2012).
Observations and expert ratings of engagement
Observations and teacher or caretaker ratings of engagement are
useful for eliciting data at both the individual and whole classroom levels.
The data elicited from such observations and expert ratings can be quan-
titative, qualitative or a mixture of the two. For instance, some observa-
tional measures evaluate individual students’ on- and o-task behavior
(e.g. attentiveness, note-taking, body-language) as an individual-level
indicator of behavioral engagement (Volpe etal., 2005). These data might
result in dichotomous ratings (i.e. whether a learner is on task or not),
percentages (i.e. time spent on-task), ordinal scales (i.e. the extent to
which a learner is on task) or descriptively detailed summaries (i.e. details
Measuring L2 Engag ement: A Review of Is sues and Applications 83
4836.indb 83 26-10-2020 12:01:08
of how a learner exhibited on-task behavior). The point of entry for many
scholars who have adopted observations and expert ratings to examine
student engagement is some form of predetermined categories of behav-
iors that encompass either engagement or disengagement (Fredricks &
McColskey, 2012). A more interpretivist tradition of engagement research
drawing on observations tends to employ chiefly qualitative methods to
collect descriptive and narrative data that assess student engagement
(Anderson, 2017). When compared with data elicited exclusively from
observations, expert rating methods are used primarily to measure behav-
ioral and emotional engagement (Finn etal., 1991; Wigfield etal., 2008).
Observations and expert ratings of language learners’ on-task perfor-
mance or qualitative aspects of classroom discourse (e.g. language-related
episodes (LREs)) have been the primary source of L2-specific measurements
of engagement. This is particularly the case in research adopting Svalberg’s
(2009, 2012) EWL model as a framework for engagement in the classroom.
For example, Baralt etal. (2016) draw on expert ratings of L2 learners’
engagement in face-to-face and online task-based interaction in various task
conditions. Lambert etal. (2017) also use expert ratings of L2 students’
cognitive, behavioral and social engagement to examine dierences in task
performance on learner-generated versus teacher-generated tasks.
The principal strength of observations and expert ratings is its ability
to capture contextual factors that are intertwined with indicators of stu-
dent engagement (Fredricks & McColskey, 2012). For instance, it would
be important to know if learner engagement wanes toward the end of a
learning task, how distractions can interfere with maintaining engage-
ment, or whether engagement peaks during certain interactional events in
a classroom – observation allows the researcher to record such aspects.
Observation and expert ratings can also be used to triangulate and verify
data collected from self-report methods such as surveys and interviews.
Although observations and expert ratings work well when linking
contextual factors or specific instructional events with student engage-
ment levels, neither observations nor ratings can capture a complete pic-
ture of student engagement. The limitations of both methods for data
elicitation is that they are subject to observer or rater biases, and are often
dependent on applying clear observation schemes or rater codes – an issue
particularly when such data collection is done by third-party observers or
raters. In addition, participant bias may be a concern in instances when
students are aware of being observed (Fredricks & McColskey, 2012).
There is also the question of whether observations and ratings are capable
of documenting engagement levels and behaviors for more than one spe-
cific student or classroom at a time (see also Chapter 8 by Mercer etal.,
this volume) even with very recent advances in video recording technol-
ogy. These drawbacks, while minor in nature, make this data elicitation
method time-consuming and the data that results from it not easily
84 Part 1: Conceptual Chapters
4836.indb 84 26-10-2020 12:01:08
Engagement interviews
Interviews are another common data collection technique used to
assess student engagement. As with most interviewing techniques, inter-
views that examine student engagement vary, from tightly structured
questions to more open-ended question types. These serve as a flexible
tool with the capability to collect in-depth information regarding both
emotional and cognitive engagement. In the field of language learning,
such interviews have been used to examine learners’ engagement with
WCF (e.g. Han & Hyland, 2015). They have also been used to examine
which contextual factors appear to connect to student engagement, how
these factors are situated in time and place, and to elicit meaningful epi-
sodes or instances pertaining to how engagement relates to student learn-
ing experiences (Hiver et al., 2019). Another strength of examining
engagement through interviews, particularly stimulated recall interviews,
is that this data can provide a window into learners’ cognitive processing
and thus shed light on the cognitive component of engagement (Reschly &
Christenson, 2012).
As a way of tapping into engagement, interviews have some limitations
as well. The interviewing technique of the interviewer has a major influence
on the data elicited and the outcome of interviews. For example, if the inter-
viewer appears to be an authority figure interrogating the participants, there
may be a tendency for interviewees to respond in socially desirable ways
when confronted with the interview questions rather than with more factual
and transparent answers about their engagement. Existing concerns about
the objectivity of what people say about themselves all apply to this data
elicitation method. After all, how individuals portray and speak about
themselves and their engagement to others is susceptible to social desirabil-
ity and selective self-censoring (Al-Hoorie, 2016a, 2016b). In addition,
interviews as a data collection technique seem to work best when conducted
with a small population of respondents, and even so, are likely to result in
large amounts of textual data that require judicious and systematic analysis
in order for any meaningful conclusions about engagement to be drawn.
This obviously decreases the generalizability of the results.
Real-time sampling methods for engagement
The experience sampling method (ESM) originates in studies of flow,
which could itself be seen as a special, intense instance of engagement that
occurs while an individual is so immersed in an activity that they lose
consciousness of time and space (Hektner etal., 2007). When used as a
data elicitation tool, ESM treats the tangible experience of engagement as
complex, emerging through interconnections between the individual and
the learning environment, and as structurally dynamic, undergoing adap-
tive change (for a more detailed overview, see Hiver & Al-Hoorie, 2020).
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The characteristic feature of using ESM to assess engagement is that
individuals are prompted to respond to data elicitation stimuli at regular
intervals (e.g. to indicate their aective state, expenditure of eort or level
of alertness throughout a learning episode each time they are signaled to
do so) (Reis & Gable, 200 0). ESM data are elicited by asking individuals
to provide systematic self-reports either at regular intervals (e.g. interval-
contingent sampling), when they are signaled (i.e. signal-contingent sam-
pling), or following a particular event of interest such as after every task
ends (i.e. event-contingent sampling) (Goetz et al., 2016). In the most
commonly used technique, individuals provide a response to these stimuli
whenever a signaling device prompts them to respond. In previous
decades, this was done through electronic beepers or pagers; however,
such signals can now be fully automated and sent to any one of the latest
smart devices or wearables (see Kubiak & Krog, 2012, for one review).
The signal is a cue to complete the data elicitation measures at that precise
moment, and intervals can be scheduled as regularly or infrequently as
desired. Some variations include every 5 or 10 minutes in an hour-long
class, between every stand-alone activity in a group meeting or project,
every two hours over a day-long period, or three times a day over a week.
While no L2-specific study has investigated engagement using an ESM
template, owing perhaps to the time- and resource-intensive nature of this
method, a new wave of studies in educational psychology use ESM as a
primary method for examining the association between qualities of the
learning environment and student engagement and learning behavior (e.g.
Salmela-Aro etal., 2016; Schmidt etal., 2018; Sherno etal., 2016).
One advantage of employing ESM in studies of learner engagement is
that ESM frees the researcher from the need to be directly involved or
physically present during any data elicitation. It also addresses a limita-
tion of observational methods that rely on data from single individuals or
single classrooms. ESM allows the tracking of many individuals’ engage-
ment levels simultaneously, over time, and across situations (Sherno
etal., 2003; Sherno & Schmidt, 2008). Compared to other self-report
methods that are retrospective, ESM taps into the ways in which individu-
als actually experience those activities and contexts in real time. Unlike
most traditional self-report techniques, it does not rely on a single assess-
ment moment but gathers repeated measurements across many occasions.
By doing this, ESM combines the ecological validity of naturalistic behav-
ioral observation with the nonintrusive nature of diaries and the rigor and
precision of psychometric techniques (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014: 23).
Of course, ESM studies of engagement must also grapple with practi-
cal implementation issues (Goetz etal., 2016). One major drawback is the
question of obtrusiveness, that is whether the repeated measurement pro-
cedure has an excessively disruptive influence on learners’ engagement in
the moment (Shiman etal., 2008). Perhaps the biggest challenge is the
heavy demand that such regular responses to the data elicitation stimuli
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4836.indb 86 26-10-2020 12:01:08
(i.e. the questions or items) impose on respondents. This can be a factor
that discourages potential participants, lowers overall completion rates
and causes data quality to deteriorate as time passes.
Measuring Engagement in Language Learning
Research measuring language-specific engagement in instructional
settings has existed for at least two decades (e.g. Dörnyei & Kormos,
2000; Platt & Brooks, 2002). This early work relied heavily on observa-
tion as a tool for data collection. These measures included, for instance,
total counts (i.e. the quantity) of talk or interaction among language
learners (Bygate & Samuda, 20 09; Dörnyei & Kormos, 2000). This type
of ‘instance’ measurement, like measures of on-task versus o-task behav-
ior, has, of course, been limited to capturing episodes of behavioral
engagement and is silent on the quality of that engagement. In more recent
literature (e.g. Baralt etal., 2016; Dobao, 2016; García Mayo & Azkarai,
2016; Svalberg, 2012), LREs (Kowal & Swain, 1994) have been employed
as the major unit of analysis for engagement in the language class as they
show the appropriateness and quality of eort in completing a classroom
task. Storch (2008), for instance, proposes that the dialogue and peer cor-
rection that occur during LREs demonstrate the degree to which language
learners are addressing the features of interest in the given task, and,
therefore, serve as a measure of cognitive engagement in the language
classroom. Others have focused more on the quality of involvement in
task-related behavior (e.g. Henry & Thorsen, 2018; Lambert etal., 2017).
Here we examine these more closely in relation to the multiple dimensions
of engagement.
The cognitive dimension
In language classrooms, both verbal interaction and nonverbal mark-
ers of interactional involvement (e.g. facial gestures) have been considered
appropriate indicators of cognitive engagement. For example, Philp and
Duchesne (2016) propose that private speech and exploratory talk –
expressions such as ‘I believe’, causal sequencing phrases such as ‘because’,
references to previous sentences through questioning or agreement, or
argument that includes reasoning and exemplification – are markers of
such deliberate, selective and sustained attention. In addition to such
negotiating of meaning, or ‘any part of the dialogue in which students talk
about the language they are producing, question their language use, or
other- or self-correct’ (Swain, 1998: 70), others see LREs as fitting indica-
tors of cognitive engagement (e.g. Baralt etal., 2016; Svalberg, 20 09).
One illustrative example of this is a study by Lambert etal. (2017)
comparing student engagement in learner-generated content as opposed
to teacher-generated content. In their study, Lambert et al. (2017)
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4836.indb 87 26-10-2020 12:01:08
operationalized learners’ attention and mental eort while they repeated
a sequence of tasks as being (a) invested in task content, measured by the
number of clauses which served to expand on the semantic content of the
narrative (i.e. suggestions, propositions, elaborations, reasons and opin-
ions); and (b) devoted to clarifying meaning (whether receptive or produc-
tive), measured by the number of moves connected with the negotiation of
meaning (i.e. corrective feedback, modified output, co-constructions, con-
firmation checks, clarification requests and metalinguistic exchanges).
Results demonstrated that students engaged more with all aspects of L2
use during class time when involved in learner-generated activities than
for teacher-generated activities.
The behavioral dimension
In language learning research, much like domain-general studies, indi-
cators of behavioral engagement include students’ active participation,
persistence and expenditure of eort in the instructional setting (Philp &
Duchesne, 2016). As with classroom studies outside our field, behavioral
engagement is commonly measured by time on task (Gettinger & Walter,
2012) and word counts or turn-taking instances (Bygate & Samuda, 2009;
Dörnyei & Kormos, 200 0). Lambert et al. (2017) measured another
dimension of engagement in their study. This was one of the more meticu-
lous operationalizations of the behavioral dimension of language learner
engagement through actual language use as measured by (a) how much
semantic content learners produced while on task (i.e. the number of
words produced in pruned discourse1); and (b) persistence or how long
learners sustained the task without the need for support or direction (i.e.
the amount of time invested in performance). In this regard, these scholars
found that when students worked on tasks with learner-generated content
(as opposed to teacher-generated tasks), their behavioral engagement
increased in terms of the contributions they made to the task, the time
they spent on tasks, the degree to which task content was embellished and
discussed, and overall responsiveness when performing a task.
The emotional dimension
In classroom settings, emotional involvement is often manifested in
learners’ personal aective reactions as they participate in target lan-
guage-related activities or tasks. Emotionally engaged learners are char-
acterized as having a ‘positive, purposeful, willing, and autonomous
disposition’ toward language and associated learning tasks (Svalberg,
2009: 247). Emotional engagement is considered to have a key impact on
other dimensions of engagement because the subjective attitudes or per-
ceptions learners carry with them in a class or through language-related
tasks are fundamental to the other dimensions of engagement (Henry &
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4836.indb 88 26-10-2020 12:01:08
Thorsen, 2018; Swain, 2013). On close scrutiny, however, it is not clear
how Svalberg’s (2009) description qualifies as exclusively emotional.
Additionally, when cross-referenced with definitions from mainstream
education, it is apparent that very little work has been done on aective
engagement in SLA. The commonly used method to measure emotional
or aective engagement in L2 includes questionnaires or surveys including
items pertaining to student attitudes or feelings in classroom settings or
in particular tasks, and interviews with stimulated recalls. As with the
other dimensions, self-report measures such as journals, interviews, ques-
tionnaires and experience sampling can be used to tap into aective
engagement through attitudes and feelings toward learning contexts, indi-
viduals in that context, learning tasks, and their own participation in
those settings (Baralt etal., 2016; Fredricks & McColskey, 2012). One
study in particular (Dao, 2019) explores quite explicitly how emotional
engagement during peer interaction predicted low-proficiency learners’
question development. He operationalized emotional engagement as
laugh episodes and post-task questionnaire ratings and comments. Given
these measures, his results showed that although there was a positive asso-
ciation between emotional engagement and L2 question development,
emotional engagement could not significantly predict L2 question devel-
opment for low-proficiency learners. Only cognitive engagement was
found to significantly predict L2 question development in this study.
The social dimension
Because much of language learning and use is relational and serves
important social functions, social engagement occupies a central place in
language learning (Philp & Duchesne, 2008). Social engagement underlies
the connections among learners in terms of the learner’s aliation with
peers in the language classroom or community, and the extent of his/her
willingness to take part in interactional episodes and learning activities
with others. This dimension of engagement is linked also to phenomena
such as reciprocity and mutuality (Storch, 2008) as manifested in learners’
willingness to listen to one another or pay attention to the teacher’s talk.
For instance, a useful metric for social engagement may be the number of
backchannels2 produced in language learning tasks (Lambert etal., 2017).
Besides backchannels, turn taking with an interlocutor, and developing
topics in interaction, other prosocial expressions of aliation such as
empathetic discourse moves and responsive laughter are also considered
to be indicators worth investigating in social engagement. With the help
of data such as stimulated recalls or videos and interviews, it is possible to
examine the extent to which such actions contribute to language-related
task completion.
What is also clear from the above is that none of the dimensions of
engagement are fully coherent when separated and should instead be
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4836.indb 89 26-10-2020 12:01:08
considered together. In essence, examining the interacting and overlap-
ping processes of the combined components of engagement, and their con-
nections to learning, must be the default instead of focusing on one or two
dimensions separately. One way of doing this may be to integrate quanti-
tative analyses that can deal with high-dimensional aggregated data on
engagement at a larger level of granularity or temporal window with
qualitative analyses of specific dimension of engagement at a smaller
The Future of Engagement Measures
In this final section, we turn to measurement issues that seem to hold
potential in advancing the measurement of engagement and depth of
insights obtained from learning activities. More specifically, we focus on
indirect measures of engagement, but we also see value in the use of skill-
specific measures and in ways that the dynamics of engagement (e.g. how
it is sustained and how it deteriorates) could be made more prominent. We
highlight the role technology could play, the potential contribution of
implicit measures and the relevance of biological markers.
Starting with technology, there currently seems to be an exponential
increase in interest in investigating the role of technology in learning in
general and in L2 learning in particular (Al-Hoorie, 2017). This is under-
standable considering the easy access and ubiquity of technology in many
language educational settings and the potential it has in facilitating learn-
ing. A substantial amount of research has looked at the value of flipped
learning, an instructional design in which students study the material out-
side of class (a task which is made more feasible with technology) and then
come to class not to learn the material but to practice it, ask question and
help struggling peers.
A number of platforms can be utilized by the teacher to prepare activi-
ties and tasks for learners. Examples include Coursera, Khan Academy,
EdX, Udemy and other MOOC providers. When used for research pur-
poses, such platforms usually oer the investigator a useful function,
namely, the ability to follow the progress of each individual learner. The
investigator can obtain detailed engagement-related statistics such as:
which videos or lectures are watched and for how long;
which readings are done and for how long;
which exercises and tasks are attempted (un)successfully;
which parts of the material attract the more/less attention from
which tasks seem more easy/dicult with more (in)correct attempts
which learners seem to be particularly struggling and thus need spe-
cial attention from the teacher;
90 Part 1: Conceptual Chapters
4836.indb 90 26-10-2020 12:01:08
which learners seem to be doing particularly well and thus may benefit
from more advanced material.
With the use of technology, engagement researchers can easily obtain a
large (perhaps overwhelming) amount of data about engagement of learn-
ers in dierent task- and skill-specific activities over a course. This is real-
time, authentic data that can be used to test hypotheses and the
eectiveness of dierent interventions.
Even without these platforms, there has been some interest in the use
of social media (or Web 2.0) for L2 learning (see Al-Hoorie, 2017). One
example is the use of private Facebook groups. Here, engagement in writ-
ing, reading, viewing and listening activities can be easily stimulated and
measured through various indicators such as the number of reads, ‘likes’
and comments. Emotional responses are indicated by the use of emojis
and emoticons. These can be content-specific or time-specific and as such
reflect the situated and dynamic nature of engagement. Analysis of com-
ments and discussions is not limited to quantitative approaches but can
also be analyzed qualitatively, revealing, for example, intensity and qual-
ity of engagement.
Admittedly using social media, though convenient for any teacher
with internet access, may not capture as deep insights on engagement as
other specialized platforms. Teachers may only have access to relatively
‘superficial’ indicators of engagement such as a ‘like’ or number of ‘reads,’
let alone the multitude of potential distractions that students may encoun-
ter while trying to learn on social media. In some contexts, this may also
lead to attentional concerns related to classroom management, especially
with younger learners. Nevertheless, the use of social media in education
is booming (Manca & Ranieri, 2017).
Another indirect approach that may be useful to measuring attitudes
toward dierent tasks is the use of implicit measures. Implicit measures
are typically computerized experiments that focus on reaction time
(Al-Hoorie, 2016a, 2016b). Depending on the exact type of the implicit
measure, the participant may be asked to respond to stimuli appearing on
the screen as quickly as possible (e.g. to classify them to the right or left
of the screen; see Al-Hoorie, 2020). Many participants realize that they
have ‘implicit’ associations in that they cannot control how well they per-
form in certain tasks. Such implicit associations may reveal implicit atti-
tudes about the certain tasks (positive or negative) that may or may not
coincide with explicit, self-reported attitudes.
Neuroscientific research has shown that implicit and explicit attitudes
correlate with dierent areas in the brain. While explicit attitudes corre-
late with activation in the frontal cortex – which is responsible for control
and self-regulation – implicit attitudes correlate with activation in the
amygdala (Cunningham et al., 20 03, 2004; Phelps et al., 2000).
Considering that the amygdala is the area in the brain responsible for
Measuring L2 Engag ement: A Review of Is sues and Applications 91
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emotions, Dasgupta etal. (2003: 241) have argued that implicit attitudes
are not cold cognition but may be ‘capturing something warm and aect-
laden’. Indirect measures that can tap into the subconscious side of engage-
ment have potential to open entirely novel avenues of research that would
tie in with the parts of instructed language learning research where
implicit processes are ‘a stable topic of investigation’ (Al-Hoorie, 2017: 5).
Finally, L2 researchers should engage more seriously with the biologi-
cal sciences. While there is some research has been done on the neurosci-
entific underpinnings of L2 learning, far less has been done on other
biological markers. However, such investigation has the potential to reveal
interesting insights into learner engagement. For example, one critical
factor influencing engagement is how the task is perceived and the amount
of stress and anxiety it generates (Pekrun & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2012).
Stress is associated with a host of biological reactions, activating neuro-
endocrine, catecholamine and opioid systems, as well as more familiar
markers such as heart rate and blood pressure. Research has shown that
such biological markers interact with psychological states, and the ways
they are interpreted plays an important role in their influence on motiva-
tion, stress and anxiety (see Bandura, 1997).
L2 engagement researchers will certainly benefit from incorporating
such measures. Researchers will obtain a more fine-tuned, micro-level
view of how their participants react in dierent situations and how their
reactions fluctuate within a single situation. Merely asking the partici-
pant to provide self-report responses at regular intervals assumes that all
processes of interest are consciously reportable, while some biological
measures might be too subtle or imperceptible by the individual.
Furthermore, asking the participant to provide responses at regular inter-
vals can be intrusive and may interfere with the task at hand. For this
reason, some measures, such as the idiodynamic method (Hiver &
Al-Hoorie, 2020; MacIntyre, 2012), have been devised to provide retro-
spective accounts to avoid interfering with the task. However, as long as
these methods make the participant the ultimate arbiter of the inner
workings of their learning, they can be richly complemented with a bio-
logical vantage point.
Engagement holds substantial promise as a future direction for the
psychology of language learning and teaching. However, it is crucial that
our field employs a selection of measures to capture the dierent dimen-
sions of this complex construct. In this chapter, we set out to explore the
past, present and future of measuring engagement. We reviewed opera-
tional definitions of engagement and then explained various domain-
general and language-specific aspects that have been measured. We then
provided an overview of instruments that have been used to measure the
92 Part 1: Conceptual Chapters
4836.indb 92 26-10-2020 12:01:08
dierent aspects of engagement both in general learning sciences and in
L2 learning more specifically. We highlighted a caveat to this program of
measuring engagement: at times, dierent terms are used to refer to the
same notions, while at other times the same terms are used to refer to
distinct notions. We then ended the chapter by discussing some novel
approaches to measuring engagement (e.g. indirect measures) that might
be useful for future research. Given the array of topical areas in language
learning and teaching for which the study of engagement has untapped
potential, attention to conceptual and operational clarity is crucial to
ensure robust methods and designs are adopted. By investing in the devel-
opment and refining of measures for engagement in the L2 classroom,
researchers can rest assured that subsequent analysis and reporting will
be on firm ground. This will go far in advancing an agenda of innovation
and rigor in language learning research.
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Appendix 5.1
(In my language class today/this week…)
Behavioral engagement
I stayed focused even when it was dicult to understand.
I participated in all the activities.
I kept trying my best even when it was hard.
I continued working until I completed my work.
I just pretended like I was working. (R)
I didn’t participate much in class. (R)
I did other things when I was supposed to be paying attention. (R)
I paid attention and listened carefully.
Emotional engagement
I looked forward to the next class.
I enjoyed learning new things.
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I wanted to understand what I was learning.
I felt good while I was in the class.
I felt frustrated while I was in the class. (R)
I found it boring to be in the class. (R)
I didn’t want to be in the class. (R)
I felt that I didn’t care about learning. (R)
Cognitive engagement
I went through my work carefully to make sure it was done right.
I thought about dierent ways to solve problems in my work.
I tried to connect new learning to the things I already learned before.
I tried to understand my mistakes when I got something wrong.
I preferred to be told the answer than do the work. (R)
I didn’t think too hard while I was doing the work. (R)
I only studied the easy parts because the class was hard. (R)
I did just enough to get by. (R)
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... Learner engagement is a popular concept in education that positively relates to students' learning outcomes, achievements as well as personal growth (Hattie, 2009;Kahu, 2013, Zhou et al., 2021. Although mobile technology has increasingly shifted students' learning behaviors to the online context outside the classroom, making engagement in the digital environment a crowded research field in recent years, the majority of empirical studies regarding language learner engagement have primarily focused on the teaching and learning activities in formal inclass or virtual settings (Deng et al., 2020;Henrie et al., 2015;Salas-Pilco et al., 2022). ...
... Learner/student engagement, a complicated multidimensional construct that has been well documented but diversely defined across literature, has drawn increasing attention due to its meaningful implications in education (Henrie et al., 2015;Zhou et al., 2021). As definitions may vary, engagement is fundamentally concerned with learners' physical as well as psychological efforts invested in their learning process, either within or out of the classroom. ...
... Given its dynamic and context-specific nature, learner engagement has been gauged in various educational settings and learning activities through a variety of methods, including questionnaire surveys, observations, expert evaluation, interviews, and real-time sampling (Zhou et al., 2021). However, there is still no consensus as to how behavioral engagement can most appropriately be measured. ...
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While the positive role of engagement in students’ learning achievements has been well documented, limited studies have examined whether or how learner engagement would vary with their achievements over time, especially within an unstructured digital learning context. This paper using a purposive sampling method reported an exploratory study on how English as a foreign language (EFL) undergraduate students with lower and upper proficiency levels (LP and UP) behaviorally engaged in their self-initiated mobile-assisted English learning (MAEL) beyond the classroom. Participants were senior-year undergraduate students from universities in central China. Quantitative analysis based on 409 questionnaires showed that there were significant differences in both how long and how often students participated in MAEL across proficiency levels, with LP learners investing more time on a more frequent basis than UP learners. However, there was no significant effect of language proficiency on the number of students’ MAEL resources employed. Besides, EFL proficiency was also found to play a mediating role in students’ learning preferences despite their common interest in receptive learning practices. Qualitative data from 36 follow-up semi-structured interviews revealed students’ cognitive and emotional rationales behind these learning behaviors. This study might offer some fresh insight into the complexity of foreign language learner engagement with self-initiated mobile-assisted learning in Chinese higher education.
... Emotional engagement is manifested in learners' affective reactions, i.e., positive dispositions towards learning materials, activities, peers, etc., in the process of target language learning . Cognitive engagement refers to mental investment and activities in language learning (Zhou et al., 2021), i.e., exhibiting deliberate, selective, and sustained attention to leverage multiple materials to achieve learning goals (Reeve, 2012). ...
... Furthermore, the majority of previous studies have predominantly relied on quantitative data collection approaches, particularly with the use of questionnaires. In contrast, the use of qualitative approaches appealed to be underutilized, despite its potential to elicit more comprehensive and in-depth data at both the individual and classroom levels (Zhou et al., 2021). ...
... One of the crucial facets of cognitive engagement in EFL learning is the mental investment (Zhou et al., 2021), including self-regulated learning strategies, processing multimedia and multimodal learning materials, etc. (Özgür & Altun, 2021;Reeve, 2012). All participants reported that SVVR could provide multiple types of sufficient and impressive materials including text, image, and voice-over, so that they were made more willing to exert efforts to leverage these materials to improve their writings and develop a deeper emotional connection to the topic. ...
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Although research into the educational benefits of Spherical Video-based Virtual Reality (SVVR) has gained popularity in traditional face-to-face English-as-a-Foreign-Language (EFL) class, little is known about whether this immersive, interactive, and imaginative teaching-assisted technology could facilitate learning in online EFL settings in the post-pandemic time. The current study explored how students engaged themselves in an online EFL class facilitated by SVVR. To achieve that, one focus group interview and two semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect in-depth data of students’ perceptions of their engagement under the SVVR-supported online learning. Based on the theoretical framework of engagement, the collected data were thematically coded into three categories, namely, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement. The findings suggested that with SVVR affordances, students engaged behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively in the online EFL writing class, both in an independent and interrelated way. The enhanced emotional engagement of students could then support their behavioral engagement while students’ cognitive engagement could also promote their emotional and behavioral engagement. The present study thereby could not only build our understanding of the dynamic, multifaceted, and interconnected nature of student engagement, but also provide one feasible solution to teachers towards the disengagement issue in online EFL learning in the post-pandemic time.
... L2 learner engagement has to do with the extent to which a student devotes energy and effort to learn a target language (Zhou et al., 2021). Given the broad and complex nature of this concept, there have been different definitions, with investigations focusing on its different constituents. ...
... Behavioral engagement is echoed by the level and eminence of dynamic involvement (Philp & Duchesne, 2016). The third facet i.e., cognitive engagement, is related to students' mental processes, including their purposeful devotion and the retention of their attention and intellectual effort (Zhou et al., 2021). Cognitive engagement is closely associated with being exposed to mental challenges and concentrating on one's tasks (Fredricks Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). ...
... Cognitive engagement is closely associated with being exposed to mental challenges and concentrating on one's tasks (Fredricks Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). In the case of the L2 classroom, verbal and non-verbal communication are deemed precursors of cognitive engagement (Zhou et al., 2021). The last aspect, i.e., the social one which is not included in some engagement models, is concerned with the quality and level of interactions between interlocutors, as well as their participation which signals the relational nature of L2 learning (Philp & Duchesne, 2016). ...
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Given the breakout of the Covide-19 pandemic, online L2 learning has become more popular than ever so traditional in-person classroom instruction is giving way to virtual learning. The different approaches to virtual L2 learning entail learners’ serious engagement to create their own learning pace. Instructors have a lasting effect on the students when they decide on how, where, and how well learners figure out and how they engage in interactions with each other. Engagement is concerned with rapport, which can be reinforced through scaffolding. Fostering rapport is claimed to improve engagement, degree of satisfaction, and collaboration, leading to effective engagement in the learning process. However, on the one hand, the relation between the two variables has not been examined in language learning, and on the other hand, they have not been investigated in an online scaffolding setting. In order to consider the issue, 586 EFL participants from universities in China were asked to take part in the study and they should answer two questionnaires, namely the student engagement instrument, and the teacher-student rapport scale. In so doing, 494 respondents were kept for the main analysis. The correlation between the two constructs through structural equation modeling (SEM) was 0.714, which is considered a significant and strong correlation. In a nutshell, some academic recommendations for educational stakeholders are provided.
... In this study, L2 engagement was examined at the classroom level (thus L2 classroom engagement) with a primary focus on students involvement, participation in, and interactions with teachers, peers, learning activities, and learning process within the classroom. Despite variation in the way L2 engagement is defined, a general consensus among L2 engagement researchers is that it is a multidimensional construct encompassing at least three components of behavioural, cognitive, and affective engagement Zhou, Hiver, & Al-Hoorie, 2021). Behavioural engagement refers to the observable behaviours while students are on-task as well as the amount and quality of their participation and involvement in L2 learning (Hiver, Zhou, Tahmouresi, Sang, & Papi, 2020). ...
... Behavioral engagement pertains to students' participation and active involvement in class discussions throughout a course, with predictors such as the quality and quantity of active participation (Philp and Duchesne, 2016;Phung, 2017;Fan and Xu, 2020). Cognitive engagement involves learners' psychological investment in the learning process through the use of strategic tools (Li, 2021;Saeli and Cheng, 2021;Sun et al., 2021;Zhou et al., 2021). Emotional engagement focuses on students' inner thoughts and feelings and how they respond to the learning experience, with emotionally engaged students being more enthusiastic, inclined to attend class, and having positive attitudes toward their education (McKellar et al., 2020). ...
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Introduction This study aimed to investigate the relationships between perceived teacher-student relationship, growth mindset, student engagement, and foreign language enjoyment (FLE) among Chinese English learners. Methods A total of 413 Chinese EFL learners participated in the study and completed self-report measures for perceived teacher-student relationship, growth mindset, student engagement in foreign language learning, and FLE. Confirmatory factor analysis was employed to assess the validity of the scales. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypothesized model. Results The partial mediation model demonstrated the best fit to the data. The results indicated that perceived teacher-student relationship had a direct impact on student engagement. FLE directly influenced student engagement, while growth mindset indirectly affected student engagement through the mediation of FLE. Discussion The findings suggest that fostering positive teacher-student relationships and promoting a growth mindset can enhance FLE, leading to increased levels of student engagement. These results emphasize the importance of considering both the interpersonal dynamics between teachers and students and the role of mindset in foreign language learning.
... A new strategy which uses learners' facial expressions to assess the level of engagement in non-face-to-face learning situations was also proposed by Kim (2021). For further measures, Zhou et al. (2021) explored the past, present, and future of how learner engagement can be assessed in the L2 classroom. ...
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Background. A leading concern in teaching and learning is how to increase the degree of student engagement in learning. Within the virtual educational environment, student engagement is a real issue facing instructors and teachers. Students in online classrooms are not able to engage in the same manner as in face-to-face settings. Purpose. This study aims to explore the impact and reception of online education on student engagement in English as a foreign language (EFL) classroom. Method. This study adopts a mixed-method approach, in order to understand student engagement online. Longitudinal self-report surveys (SRS) filled out by 127 undergraduate students after each class session throughout a four-week period were used to assess their engagement in online language classrooms. Focus-group interview transcriptions were used to triangulate the data and provide further information about student engagement in terms of gender difference, engagement growth over time, and engagement fostering or hindrance factors in virtual learning classrooms. Results. Analysis showed that students were generally engaged during the weeks with some variances. Cognitive-social learning engagement showed dynamics among students in virtual language classrooms. Factors such as place of engagement and students’ choice of device used to access the virtual session were found to influence student engagement in online classroom learning. Male and female students generally showed similar learning engagement in the virtual classes with disparities occurring over the study period. Conclusion. The study results will be beneficial for researchers, instructors, and policymakers who are interested in understanding student engagement and who seek to improve the teaching experience.
... The fact that studies generally do not rely on a single form of data or adopt exclusively indirect (i.e. self-report) measures of engagement is a distinct strength, and one that future work should capitalize on by continuing to supplement indirect measures with direct measures of the relevant domains of L2 engagement (Zhou et al., 2021). Going forward, there will be clear value in increased use of skill-and domain-specific measures of engagement as well as measures that allow the dynamics of engagement (e.g. ...
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At the turn of the new millennium, in an article published in Language Teaching Research in 2000, Dörnyei and Kormos proposed that ‘active learner engagement is a key concern’ for all instructed language learning. Since then, language engagement research has increased exponentially. In this article, we present a systematic review of 20 years of language engagement research. To ensure robust coverage, we searched 21 major journals on second language acquisition (SLA) and applied linguistics and identified 112 reports satisfying our inclusion criteria. The results of our analysis of these reports highlighted the adoption of heterogeneous methods and conceptual frameworks in the language engagement literature, as well as indicating a need to refine the definitions and operationalizations of engagement in both quantitative and qualitative research. Based on these findings, we attempted to clarify some lingering ambiguity around fundamental definitions, and to more clearly delineate the scope and target of language engagement research. We also discuss future avenues to further advance understanding of the nature, mechanisms, and outcomes resulting from engagement in language learning.
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The emergence of Positive Psychology in second language acquisition has placed greater emphasis on the vital role of engagement in learning English as a foreign language (EFL). Although previous research has established that EFL learners’ engagement is affected by ideal L2 self, boredom, and grit respectively, sporadic studies have attempted to address the simultaneous link between these factors and engagement. To fill the gap, this study aims to examine the association between the ideal L2 self and engagement among EFL learners, with a special focus on the mediating role of grit and boredom in the relationship. A total of 466 EFL learners were enrolled in two public universities in Northern China. Structural equation modeling (SEM) results revealed that grit positively predicted engagement and mediated the relationship between the ideal L2 self and engagement. Moreover, boredom negatively predicted engagement and acted as a mediator between the ideal L2 self and engagement. However, ideal L2 self did not directly predict engagement. These findings contribute to the current knowledge by elucidating the complex relationships between the three factors and engagement, which can provide insights for pedagogical practices and directions for future research.
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This study investigates whether English formal instruction and a number of teaching practices are more strongly associated with reading or listening English skills, using data from a large-scale assessment of English skills among 14- and 15-year-olds in 15 European education systems in 2012. The results indicate that the skill difference between reading and listening skills is positively associated with: more years spent learning English in school; more hours of current English instruction; and even indicators of quality of English instruction. In addition, the use of different teaching materials and the emphasis put on oral skills in the classroom are also associated with the difference between reading and listening skills. These results are based on a methodology developed specifically for this study, and they confirm the usefulness of separately measuring foreign language skills for policy analysis.
In today's education, student success still is one of the central objectives pursued by different higher education institutions, including the Application-oriented colleges or universities. Reports show that these schools make a great contribution to social and economic development and they are influenced by the forces driving change in the various sectors, including education, industries, and society. Literature shows that engagement has an essential role for students' achievement. Indeed, there is a consensus that student engagement is one of the key contributors to reinforcing learning and retention. To learners enrolled in these universities, creativity is of paramount importance, as well. More specifically, given that students are seen as the main contributors to societal development, universities have been seeking to foster creativity among individuals by establishing creativity-nurturing programs. As creativity is significant in education these days, the present study attempts to consider the conception of creativity and its role in how it can assist in cultivating student engagement and success in Application-oriented Colleges. Accordingly, some educational implications are offered for educators, learners, and syllabus designers.
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In this chapter, Al-Hoorie presents an overview of the role of unconscious motivation and its relationship to conscious motivation. The author reviews some interesting findings from mainstream psychology pointing to the pervasive role of unconscious processes in human motivation. The discussion is then linked to language learning, where comparable findings are found. These findings emerged from various instruments and methodologies, including the Match-Guise Technique, the Implicit Association Test, the Single-Target Association Test, as well as qualitative observation. Directions for future research are finally suggested.
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Demotivation (Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011) and non-participation (Norton, 2001) characterize negative responses to classroom practice of a generally chronic nature. In this article, focus is directed to negativity that emerges within the context of a particular language developing activity, and which can be understood as a situated response to the activity’s demands. In conceptualizing negative responses at the activity level, disaffection – the negative face of engagement – is a construct of central importance. Drawing on data from a large-scale ethnographic project in secondary English classrooms in Sweden, in this exploratory case study disaffection (Skinner, 2016) is examined in the context of two language developing activities. Analyses reveal that disaffection can transform into active engagement, and that when called upon to perform an inauthentic identity, students can ‘redesign’ activities in ways that enable them to act authentically.
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In this study we investigate the situated and dynamic nature of the L2 Learning Experience through a newly-purposed instrument called the Language Learning Story Interview—adapted from McAdams’ Life Story Interview (2007). Using critical case sampling, data were collected from an equal number of learners of various L2s (e.g., Arabic, English, Mandarin, Spanish) and analyzed using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (Rihoux & Ragin, 2009). Through our data analysis, we demonstrate how language learners construct overarching narratives of the L2 learning experience and what the characteristic features and components that make up these narratives are. Our results provide evidence for prototypical nuclear scenes (McAdams et al., 2004) as well as core specifications and parameters of learners’ narrative accounts of the L2 learning experience. We discuss how these shape motivation and language learning behavior.
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Increasing school engagement is critical for improving academic achievement and reducing dropout rates. In order to increase student engagement and identify those students who are most disengaged from school, we need to conceptualize and measure student engagement appropriately. This study used a mixed method sequential exploratory design to develop and validate a student survey measure of school engagement that reflects a multidimensional conceptualization of engagement. Psychometric tests were conducted with a large racially and socioeconomically diverse sample of 5th-12th graders in the United States (N = 3,632). Findings demonstrated that a bifactor multidimensional model fit the data appropriately and provided evidence of measurement invariance, construct, and predictive validity. Results provided a psychometrically sound foundation for capturing the behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and social aspects of student engagement and disengagement in school.
The study investigated the potential impact of task goal orientation on cognitive, social and emotional aspects of task performance through the lens of learner engagement. Sixteen EFL learner dyads completed a convergent decision-making task and a divergent opinion-exchange task. Their audio-recorded interactions were transcribed and coded for evidence of engagement, including idea units and language-related-episodes (cognitive engagement), instances of explicit task enjoyment, reported emotions (emotional engagement), and responsiveness (social engagement). To determine the effects of task goal orientation on learner engagement, scores for engagement types were compared between two tasks. To understand learners’ perception about their engagement, posttask exit questionnaire responses were analyzed using content-analysis approach. Findings showed that learners showed greater cognitive and social engagement in the convergent than divergent tasks. No differences were observed in learners’ emotional engagement. Results are discussed in terms of the role of task goal orientation in promoting learners’ cognitive and social engagement.
Science education reform efforts in the Unites States call for a dramatic shift in the way students are expected to engage with scientific concepts, core ideas, and practices in the classroom. This new vision of science learning demands a more complex conceptual understanding of student engagement and research models that capture both the multidimensionality and contextual specificity of student engagement in science. In a unique application of person-oriented analysis of experience sampling data, we employ cluster analysis to identify six distinct momentary engagement profiles representing different combinations of the behavioral, cognitive, and affective dimensions of student engagement in high school science classrooms. Students spend a majority of their classroom time in one of several engagement profiles characterized by high engagement on one dimension, but low levels on the others. Students exhibited low engagement across all three dimensions of engagement in about 22% of our observations. Full engagement, or high levels across all three dimensions, is the least frequent profile, occurring in only 11% of the observations. Students’ momentary engagement profiles are related in meaningful ways to both the learning activity in which students are engaged and the types of choices they are afforded. Laboratory activities provided especially polarized engagement experiences, producing full engagement, universally low engagement, and pleasurable engagement in which students are affectively engaged but are not engaged cognitively or behaviorally. Student choice is generally associated with more optimal engagement profiles and the specific type of choice matters in important ways. Choices about how to frame the learning activity have the most positive effects relative to other types of choices, such as choosing whom to work with or how much time to take. Results are discussed in terms of implications for practice and the utility of the methodological approach for evaluating the complexities of student engagement in science classrooms.
This paper reports the first investigation in the second language acquisition field assessing learners’ implicit attitudes using the Implicit Association Test, a computerized reaction-time measure. Examination of the explicit and implicit attitudes of Arab learners of English (N = 365) showed that, particularly for males, implicit attitudes toward L2 speakers are associated with self-reported openness to the L2 group and with strength of correlations among attitudinal and motivational variables. Implicit attitudes also moderated important paths in the L2 Motivational Self System. The paper concludes that implicit attitudes seem to be a meaningful individual difference variable, adding a new dimension to our understanding of language motivation.