Aida Montenegro


What motivates a teenage girl to begin and continue having private language tutoring? This qualitative study presents a detailed examination of the motivations and experience of a German female teen in language tutoring. After three years of private tutoring, data were gathered by the tutor-researcher through scenarios, an interview, and a collage. Analysis of the transcribed responses revealed that having well-defined goals and clear thoughts about the connection between the school subject and its value (e.g., intrinsic and utility) help the tutee achieve her goals, (re)establish them, and make more conscious and strategic decisions. Specifically, the tutee’s mastery goals, school culture, and proactive interaction were conducive to improving the flow of tutoring (agentic engagement) and facilitating long-term engagement. Results also show that student engagement may be prolonged when these conditions are consistently encouraged by the tutor. This study builds on Achievement Goal Theory and the concepts of behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and agentic engagement.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter


achievement goals, tutoring, autonomy, agentic engagement, foreign language

Full Text:



Aliponga, J., Gamble, C., & Ando, S. 2011. Verbalization plus automatization plus autonomy: A simple formula for learner autonomy. In D. Gardner (Ed.), Fostering autonomy in language learning (pp. 90–98). Gaziantep: Zirve University.

Belenky, D. & Nokes-Malach, T. 2013. Mastery-approach goals and knowledge transfer: An investigation into the effects of task structure and framing instructions. Learning and Individual Differences, 25, 21–34. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2013.02.004

Bello-Rodzeń, I. & Montenegro, A. 2019. Teaching Spanish as an additional foreign language to experienced learners. In D. Gabryś-Barker (Ed.), Challenges of foreign language instruction in the university context (pp. 127–161). Katowice: University of Silesia Press.

Beutner, M., & Pechuel, R. 2017. Education and educational policy in Germany. A focus on core developments since 1944. Italian Journal of Sociology of Education, 9(2), 9–24. doi:10.14658/pupj-ijse-2017-2-2

Bray, M. 2013. Shadow education: Comparative perspectives on the expansion and Implications of Private Supplementary Tutoring. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 77, 412–420. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.03.096

Bryant, A. R. 2014. An interpretative phenomenological analysis of student engagement in learning at the middle level. Doctoral thesis, College of Professional Studies Northeastern University, Boston, MA, from https://repository.library.northeastern.edu/files/neu:336553/fulltext.pdf.

Buchmann, C., Condron, D. J., & Roscigno, V. J. 2010. Shadow education, American style: test preparation, the SAT and college enrollment. Social Forces, 89(2), 435–461. doi:10.1353/sof.2010.0105

Buskist, W., Busler, J. N., & Kirby, L. A. J. 2018. Rules of (student) engagement. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, (154), 55–63. doi:10.1002/tl.20291

Cayubit, R. F. O., Castor, J. Y. S., Divina, E. J. S., Francia, R. M. S., Nolasco, R. T. P., Villamiel, A. J. E., Viloria, A. I. S., & Zarraga, M. T. G. 2014. A Q analysis on the impact of shadow education on the academic life of high school students. Psychological Studies, 59(3), 252–259. doi:10.1007/s12646-014-0260-z

Cook, D. & Artino, A. 2016. Motivation to learn: An overview of contemporary theories. Medical Education, 50, 997–1014. doi:10.1111/medu.13074

Dompnier, B., Darnon, C., Meier, E., Brandner, C., Smeding, A., & Butera, F. 2015. Improving low achievers’ academic performance at university by changing the social value of mastery Goals. American Educational Research Journal, 52(4), 720–749. doi:10.3102/0002831215585137

Dörnyei, Z. 1998. Motivation in second and foreign language learning. Language Teaching, 31(3), 117–135. doi:10.1017/S026144480001315X

Eccles, J. S., & Wigfield, A. 2002. Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 109–132. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135153

Eccles, J. S. 2005. Subjective Task Value and the Eccles et al. Model of Achievement-Related Choices. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 105–121). New York: Guilford Publications.

Elliot, A. J., Murayama, K., & Pekrun, R. 2011. A 3 X 2 achievement goal model. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(3), 632–648. doi:10.1037/a0023952

Elliott, E. S., & Dweck, C. S. 1988. Goals: An approach to motivation and achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(1), 5–12. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.54.1.5

European Commission. 2018. Education and training: Monitor 2018. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Faroa, B. D. 2017. Considering the role of tutoring in student engagement: Reflections from a South African university. Journal of Student Affairs in Africa, 5(2), 1–15. doi:10.24085/jsaa.V5i2.2699

Gaudreau, P., & Braaten, A. 2016. Achievement goals and their underlying goal motivation: Does it matter why sport participants pursue their goals? Psychologica Belgica, 56(3), 244–268. doi:10.5334/pb.266

Grant, H., & Dweck, C. S. 2003. Clarifying achievement goals and their impact. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(3), 541–553. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.85.3.541

Guay, F., Ratelle, C. F., & Chanal, J. 2008. Optimal learning in optimal contexts: The role of self-determination in education. Canadian Psychology, 49(3), 233–240. doi:10.1037/a0012758

Gunawardena, C. 2014. Globalization culture and online distance learning. In O. Zawacki-Richter & T. Anderson (Eds.), Online distance education: Towards a research agenda (pp. 75-130). Athabasca: Athabasca University Press.

Harackiewicz, J. M., Barron, K. E., & Elliot, A. J. 1998. Rethinking achievement goals: When are they adaptive for college students and why? Educational Psychologist, 33(1), 1–21. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep3301_1

Henri, D. C., Morrell, L. J., & Scott, G. W. 2018. Student perceptions of their autonomy at university. Higher Education, 75(3), 507–516. doi:10.1007/s10734-017-0152-y

Hogan, R. 2012. Succeeding in transnational distance learning. In R. Hogan (Ed.), Transactional distance learning and building new markets for universities (pp. 1–18). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Kemp, A., Palmer, E. & Strelan, P. 2019. A taxonomy of factors affecting attitudes towards educational technologies for use with technology acceptance models. British Journal Education Technology, 50, 2394–2413. doi:10.1111/bjet.12833

Keus, K., & Haave, N. C. 2020. Using a learning philosophy assignment to capture students’ metacognition and achievement goals. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 11(1). doi:10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2020.1.8153

Koro-Ljungberg, M., Douglas, E. P., Therriault, D., Malcolm, Z., & McNeill, N. 2012. Reconceptualizing and decentering think-aloud methodology in qualitative research. Qualitative Research, 13(6), 735–753. doi:10.1177/1468794112455040

Lesh, R., & Kelly, A. E. 1997. Teachers’ evolving conceptions of one-to-one tutoring: A three-tiered teaching experiment. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 28(4), 398–430, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/749681.

Lijadi, A. 2015. Bloom where you are planted: Theory of place identity construction of third culture kids. Doctoral thesis, University of Macau, Maca. Available at https://cloudfront.ualberta.ca/-/media/ualberta/faculties-and-programs/centres-institutes/international-institute-of-qualitative-methods/dissertations/dissertation-docs/alijadidissertationfinal.pdf.

Matos, L., Reeve, J., Herrera, D., & Claux, M. 2020. Students’ agentic engagement predicts longitudinal increases in perceived autonomy-supportive teaching: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. The Journal of Experimental Education, 86(4), 579–596. doi: 10.1080/00220973.2018.1448746

Montenegro, A. 2022. Lecturers’ perceptions of student engagement and their role in supporting it. European Journal of Education Studies, 9(4), 134–153. doi: 10.46827/ejes.v9i4.4243

Montenegro, A. 2019. Why are students’ self-initiated contributions important? A study on agentic engagement. International Journal of Sociology of Education, 8(3), 291–315. doi: 10.17583/rise.2019.4540

Montenegro, A. 2017. Understanding the concept of agentic engagement for learning. Colomb. Appl. Linguist. J., 19(1), 117–128. doi:10.14483/calj.v19n1.10472

Montenegro, A. 2012. Analyzing EFL university students’ positionings and participation structures in a collaborative learning environment. Colomb. Appl. Linguist. J., 14(1), 127–145. doi:10.14483/22487085.3825

Nakata, Y. 2014. Self-regulation: Why is it important for promoting learner autonomy in the school context? Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 5(4), 342–356, from https://sisaljournal.org/archives/dec14/nakata/.

Olivier, E., Galand, B., Hospel, V., & Dellisse, S. 2020. Understanding behavioural engagement and achievement: The roles of teaching practices and student sense of competence and task value. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(3), 1–23. doi:10.1111/bjep.12342

Person, N. K., Graesser, A. C., Magliano, J. P., & Kreuz, R. J. 1994. Inferring what the student knows in one-to-one tutoring: The role of student questions and answers. Learning and Individual Differences, 6(2), 205-29. doi:10.1016/1041-6080(94)90010-8

Reeve, J., & Shin, S. H. 2020. How teachers can support students’ agentic engagement. Theory Into Practice, 59(2), 150–161. doi:10.1080/00405841.2019.1702451

Reeve, J. 2012. A self-determination theory perspective on student engagement. Handbook of research on student engagement. In S. L. Christenson, A. L. Reschly, & C. Wylie (Eds.), Handbook of research on student engagement (pp. 149–172). Boston: Springer Science & Business Media.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. 2017. Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. London: The Guilford Press.

Silova, I. & Bray, M. 2006. The hidden marketplace: Private tutoring in former socialist countries. In I. Silova, V. Budiene, & M. Bray (Eds.), Education in a hidden marketplace, monitoring of private tutoring. Overview and country reports (pp. 71–98). New York: Open Society Institute.

Sommet, N. & Elliot, A. 2016. Achievement goals. In V. Zeigler-Hill & T.K. Shackelford (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer: Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_484-1

Southgate, D. E. 2009. Determinants of shadow education: A Cross-national analysis. Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University.

Trowler, V. 2010. Student engagement literature review. The Higher Education Academy. Lancaster: University of Lancaster. Available at https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/studentengagementliteraturereview_1.pdf

Vandenberghe, F. 2009. A philosophical history of German sociology. London: Routledge.

Wirthwein, L., & Steinmayr, R. 2020. Performance-approach goals: The operationalization makes the difference. European Journal of Psychology of Education. doi:10.1007/s10212-020-00520-2

Wittwer, J. 2008. Warum wirkt Nachhilfe? Hinweise aus der Forschung zum Einzelunterricht. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 54(3), 416–432. doi:10.25656/01:435

Wolters, C. A. 2004. Advancing achievement goal theory: Using goal structures and goal orientations to predict students' motivation, cognition, and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(2), 236–250. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.96.2.236

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.46827/ejfl.v6i2.4336


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright © 2015 - 2022. European Journal of Foreign Language Teaching (ISSN 2537-1754) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing GroupAll rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms.

All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).