Learner Agency: Maximizing Learner Potential
Nurture active learners who can flourish in any learning environment.
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- Nurture active, engaged learners.
- Encourage a growth mindset and an investment in lifelong learning.
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What is learner agency?
Learner agency refers to the feeling of ownership and control that learners have over their own learning. When students believe their actions can make a difference, they become more confident, engaged, and effective learners. Every student can develop their agency – but they must be supported by their teachers and learning community to do so.
Filled with advice from our Expert Panel, our position paper will help you to nurture learner agency with straightforward guidance you can adapt to your needs.
Meet our Expert Panel
We collaborate with an Expert Panel of world-leading academics and educators in English Language Teaching. Why does this matter to you? The Expert Panel ensures that research-based support informs our products and services, meeting your needs and the needs of your students in the best possible way.
Diane-Larsen Freeman is Professor Emerita of Education and Linguistics, Research Scientist Emerita, and former Director of the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan. She is also Professor Emerita at the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont and a Visiting Faculty Member at the University of Pennsylvania. Her recent books are Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics (2008, with Lynne Cameron), winner of the MLA’s Kenneth W. Mildenberger Book Prize; the third edition of Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching (2011, with Marti Anderson); the third edition of The Grammar Book: Form, Meaning, and Use for English Language Teachers (2015, with Marianne Celce-Murcia); and Second Language Development: Ever Expanding (2018). Diane is the lead author of this paper.
Paul Driver is a Senior Learning Technologist at Anglia Ruskin University. He specializes in immersive virtual reality scenario creation and has an M.A. in Creative Media Practice in Education. He has 25 years of teaching experience and is an award winning educational materials writer, a teacher trainer, and a graphic designer. Paul has been nominated for four British Council ELTons Teaching Innovation Awards. In 2018, he received the national Learning Technologist of the Year Award from the UK Association for Learning Technology (ALT). Paul’s research interests include exploring the roles of technology, game design, play, and embodied cognition in the process of learning. Paul is a contributing author of this paper.
XUESONG (ANDY) GAO
Xuesong (Andy) Gao is a language teacher educator at the School of Education, University of New South Wales, Australia. He has been involved in language teacher education in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Taiwan. His research interests include language learner autonomy, language education policy, and language teacher education. His research has been funded by Research Grants Council (Hong Kong), Sumitomo Foundation (Japan), and the Standing Committee for Language Education and Research (Hong Kong). He has published widely in international journals, including ELT Journal, TESOL Quarterly, Modern Language Journal, and Teaching and Teacher Education. He is a co-editor of System: An International Journal of Educational Technology and Applied Linguistics and co-editor of the English Language Education book series, published by Springer. Xuesong is a contributing author of this paper.
Sarah Mercer is Professor of Foreign Language Teaching at the University of Graz, Austria, where she is Head of ELT Methodology. Her research interests include all aspects of the psychology surrounding the foreign language learning experience. She is the author, co-author, and co-editor of several books in this area, including Teacher Wellbeing (2020) and Exploring Psychology in Language Learning and Teaching (2015). She has served as a consultant on several international projects. She is currently Vice- President of the International Association for the Psychology of Language Learning (IAPLL). In 2018, she was awarded the Robert C. Gardner Award for excellence in second language research by the International Association of Language and Social Psychology (IALSP). Sarah is a contributing author of this paper.