Bridging Passion and Profession: Supporting Agency and Investment in Multilingual University Writers

Marlen Harrison / Maiju Uusipaikka / Annika Karinen / Tanja Räsänen / Diana Raitala / Reetta Ellonen / Hanna Huumonen / Otto Tuomela


Throughout the last two decades, scholarship discussing learner development and autonomy has expanded from viewing the learner as one who possesses intrinsic or extrinsic motivation to a performer who to varying degrees invests as an agent in the learning process, particularly when able to pursue her or his passions. With this expansion in mind, the authors sought to look back at the trajectory of their experiences in a second language communication and composition course in order to more deeply understand the roles of agency and investment in their own and fellow classmates’ learning. As such, this research examines the role of project-based learning activities that attempt to bridge the learners’ personal passions and professional interests. Seven student-researchers reported via written narrative how such a bridging approach in the multilingual writing environment supported learner investment and agency. Student responses speak to the need for a stronger sense of connection among their disciplinary studies, personal interests, and even instructors, and highlight the ways in which investment and agency are associated with ideas about learner affect, learner identity, learner autonomy and language acquisition.


project-based learning; passion-based learning; bridging approach; agency; investment; multilingual learners; academic writing

Citation Information: 

Language Learning in Higher Education. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 1–25, ISSN (Online) 2191-6128, ISSN (Print) 2191-611X, DOI: 10.1515/cercles-2013-0001, October 2013