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Commitment in learning plans: fostering learner autonomy in the second language classroom and beyond

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posted on 2022-03-28, 19:30 authored by Susann Schuster
Students who feel responsible for their learning can develop into autonomous and therefore successful and confident learners who are equipped for lifelong learning. In the attempt to support secondary students to take responsibility for their learning, the literature proposes the use of learning plans which can be described as written agreements on specific learning goals between students and teachers. However, little research has engaged in assessing whether students can feel committed towards, and as a result, take responsibility for their learning plan. Combining findings from education, educational and organisational psychology, and second language learning, this thesis aims at measuring various forms of commitment that students develop towards their learning plan. Furthermore, it attempts to establish links between student commitment, and other psychological concepts that influence the development of an autonomous learner - student engagement and academic self-efficacy. This thesis further explores a number of socio-economic and background factors that influence students' commitment. Finally, putting emphasis on second language learning, this thesis aims to identify the didactic factors that determine a learning environment of a successful learning plan which promotes learner autonomy. In this endeavour, this thesis proposes a mixed methods approach, consisting of two studies in the Australian secondary education system. Study one represents an empirical, longitudinal approach using student questionnaires. Study two pursues a qualitative approach in the form of student and teacher interviews. The findings support the view that students can develop various forms of commitment towards their learning plan and that it is a concept which appears to be linked to students' engagement and their confidence to take on academic tasks. In addition to that, the learning environment will be described within which learning plans promote controlled learner autonomy.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Theoretical concepts of learner autonomy in the second language classroom -- 3. Instruments fostering learner autonomy -- 4. Learning plans as an instrument to foster learner autonomy -- 5. Assessing learning plans that foster learner autonomy -- 6. Methodological framework: two studies investigating student commitment towards learning plans -- 7. Findings of the quantitative study -- 8. Findings of the qualitative study -- 9. Conclusion: towards a holistic model of a learning plan that fosters learner autonomy in the second language classroom -- References -- Appendices.


Includes bibliographical references Submission: January 2013

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of International Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of International Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Martina Moellering


Copyright Susann Schuster 2013. Copyright disclaimer:




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