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Naturally the social context in which learners find

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interact with the perceived opportunities in their surroundings. Naturally, the social context in which learners find themselves determines to a large degree how agentic they can be and what resources are available to them, but it is how the learners interpret those affordances that can make the crucial difference. For example, three learners in the same setting may all have access to the same resource, such as to a series of ‘ted talks’. One learner may believe the videos to be too difficult and therefore may not engage with them at all. Another learner may watch the videos simply for pleasure with no language learning intent in mind. The third learner may watch the videos together with the transcripts making notes and highlighting language in the transcripts. The resource is the same for each learner, but it affords each learner different things depending on how they view themselves, their goals, how they feel about the videos and what they believe they can gain from them, if anything. The starting point for any kind of learner-initiated action and goal-directed behaviour is their sense of agency. It is whether they feel willing and able to take action that they believe will make a difference to their learning. Their sense of agency is complex and emerges from the
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interplay of a combination of psychological and social variables. However, although simplifying somewhat, there are three main facets that contribute to a learner’s agency – what the learner believes, feels and does (cf. Mercer, 2011). Fundamentally, a learner needs to believe they can improve and to feel competent in the face of the task ahead. They also need to feel willing and interested enough to invest in the learning process and take action. Then they also need to have the skills and strategies to manage and organise their own learning. Together their cognition, affect and strategy knowledge interact to generate their sense of agency, which then mediates the learner’s interpretation of the contextual constraints and opportunities available to them leading ultimately to action or, indeed, deliberate non-action in respect to the goal of learning (Mercer, 2011a). Engagement A second component of learner psychology that goes hand in hand with agency is engagement, which is another action-oriented concept (cf. Reschly & Christenson, 2012). Most teachers recognise engagement amongst their learners in those moments when their students are deeply involved in tasks and enjoying them. As with agency, learner engagement emerges from the interaction of various cognitive, affective and behavioural elements. Learners can also be differently engaged to different degrees in terms of the three dimensions (Trowler, 2010). In other words, a learner can be cognitively engaged when they feel sufficiently challenged, mentally focused on the task at hand and willing and able to invest effort at understanding and mastering the task. A learner can be affectively engaged when they are interested, enjoying the work and feel positively towards the task and those working with them. Finally, a learner can be behaviourally
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