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  • Kimberly A. Noels (a1), Dayuma I. Vargas Lascano (a2) and Kristie Saumure (a3)


Research suggests that students put more effort into language learning when they feel that it is a voluntary and self-relevant activity or they enjoy the process of mastering that language (i.e., they have a more self-determined orientation). This orientation is fostered when learners feel autonomous, competent, and related to others in their learning environment. We followed 162 university students of French across one semester to examine these causal claims longitudinally. Latent growth curve modeling showed that feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness and self-determined motivation increased across the semester while engagement declined. Parallel processes growth curve modeling showed that declines in engagement across the semester were attenuated to the extent that self-determined motivation increased. Auto-regressive cross-lagged analysis showed that, contrary to expectation, more engagement as the semester started predicted greater self-determination mid-semester (instead of vice versa), but these relations became reciprocal from mid-semester on. These findings are consistent with a dynamic model of motivation that emphasizes the reciprocal interplay between motivational constructs over the duration of a language course. The implications of these findings for motivation theory and instructional practices are discussed.


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*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kimberly Noels, Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, T6G 2E9. E-mail:


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At the time this research was completed, Dayuma I. Vargas Lascano and Kristie Saumure were at the University of Alberta. This research was supported by a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to the first author. Versions of this paper were presented at the 2009 Conference of the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics and at the 2010 Conference of the American Association of Applied Linguistics. The authors would like to thank Tory Pino and Sabine Ricioppo for their research assistance and Dr. Élizabeth Le for her consultation regarding the French program.



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