Agency and Engagement in the College Classroom

Agency and Engagement in the
College Classroom: Are Instructors
or Students Primarily Responsible
for Motivation?
Dennis Bozyk and
Stewart Wood
Madonna University
Empowering Students to Learn Conference, Oakland University, May 15, 2014
Effective College Instructors …
 acknowledge that they have a responsibility to teach in ways
that inspire a liking for course content;
 communicate their love of the field and subject matter;
 employ strategies that engage and encourage students to
study hard, understand and persist in the face of obstacles
Therefore, instructors can reasonably be judged not only in
terms of their students’ course achievement but also with
respect to their students’ levels of engagement and motivation
to achieve in the content area.
Agentic Engagement
 Link to Sameroff’s Transactional Model: Children and
contexts shape each other.
 Agentic engagement is defined as “Students’ constructive
contribution into the flow of the instruction they receive”
(Reeves & Tseng, 2011).
 Scale Items for the AE Construct
During class, I ask questions.
I tell my teacher what I like and what I don’t like.
I let my teacher know what I’m interested in.
During class, I express my preferences and opinions.
I offer suggestions about how to make the class better.
Overview of Achievement Goals
Goals are the purposes that students see in doing schoolwork.
Learners constantly ask themselves: ‘Why am I doing this?’
Mastery (Learning)
Mastery focus
Deep Processing
Intrinsic interest
Linked to Flow
Academic risks
Avoid misunderstanding
class material
Competitive focus
Utilitarian view of learning
Academic short-cuts
Extrinsic focus
Avoid academic risks
Low self-efficacy
Choose easy tasks
Implications and Takeaways
 The construct of agentic engagement reflects a
paradigm shift. Students come with a mental model of a
university course that does not include them in its
shaping. Students create motivationally supportive
learning environments for themselves.
 The vital importance of the first day! If students are to
become agentically-engaged, the conditions that
facilitate those qualities must be present from day one.
What strategies might an instructor employ in the first
class to support agentic engagement?
 This conference is focused on student empowerment.
Is agentic engagement a form of empowerment?
Key Resources
Agentic Engagement:
Reeve, J. (2013). How students create motivationally supportive learning environments
for themselves. The concept of agentic engagement. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 105(3), 579-595.
Reeve, J. (2013). Students’ classroom engagement produces longitudinal changes in
classroom motivation. Online First Publication, November 11, 2013.
Goal Theory:
Elliot, A. J. (2005). A conceptual history of the achievement goal construct. In A. J.
Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.) Handbook of Competence and Motivation (pp. 5272). New
York, New York: The Guilford Press.
Pintrich, P. R., & Schunk, D. (2002). Motivation in education: Theory, research and
applications (2nd Ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill PrenticeHall.
Dennis Bozyk: [email protected]
Stewart Wood: [email protected]

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