Foreign Language Learning Boredom, Academic Engagement, and Achievement: A Mediation Model

Lisheng Li
School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Yunnan Normal University, Kunming-650500, China
Yajun Wu
School of Humanities and Education, Foshan University, Foshan-528225, China
Xia Kang
School of Mathematics and Big Data, Foshan University, Foshan-528225, China


Plum Analytics


Boredom, as a commonly experienced negative, deactivating achievement emotion, is significantly correlated with the key indicators of academic and well-being outcomes. However, compared with enjoyment and anxiety, boredom in the field of English as a foreign language (EFL), especially the mediating mechanism of boredom on academic performance, still remains relatively unexplored. This study aimed to test whether academic engagement mediated the relationship between boredom and academic achievement in the EFL setting. Data were collected from 535 Chinese EFL secondary school students. Structural equation model (SEM) was used to analyze the data. The findings showed that boredom negatively predicted EFL achievement and academic engagement mediated the relation between boredom and EFL achievement. Limitations and implications are discussed.


  • Achievement Emotions,
  • Boredom,
  • Academic Engagement,
  • EFL Achievement


  1. Abulela, M.A.A., & Bart, W.M. (2021). Learning and study strategies and engagement among Egyptian undergraduates: Do gender and discipline matter?. Educational Psychology, 41(9), 1160–1179.
  2. Barnett, M.D., Melugin, P.R., & Hernandez, J. (2020). Time Perspective, Intended Academic Engagement, and Academic Performance. Current Psychology, 39, 761–767.
  3. Bench, S.W., & Lench, H.C. (2019). Boredom as a seeking state: Boredom prompts the pursuit of novel (even negative) experiences. Emotion, 19(2), 242–254.
  4. Bridgeland, J.M., Balfanz, R., Moore, L.A., & Friant, R.S. (2010). Raising Their Voices: Engaging Students, Teachers, and Parents to Help End the High School Dropout Epidemic. Civic Enterprises, 60.
  5. Byrne, B.M. (2010). Structural equation modeling with AMOS: Basic concepts, applications, and programming. Routledge, United Kingdom.
  6. Chen, F.F. (2007). Sensitivity of Goodness of Fit Indexes to Lack of Measurement Invariance. Structural Equation Modeling, 14(3), 464–504.
  7. Chentsova-Dutton, Y.E., Senft, N., & Ryder, A.G. (2014). Listening to Negative Emotions: How Culture Constrains what we Hear. The Positive side of Negative Emotions, The Guilford Press, 146–178.
  8. Daniels, L.M., Tze, V.M.C., & Goetz, T. (2015). Examining boredom: Different causes for different coping profiles. Learning and Individual Differences, 37, 255–261.
  9. Dao, P., & Sato, M. (2021). Exploring fluctuations in the relationship between learners’ positive emotional engagement and their interactional behaviours. Language Teaching Research, 25(6), 972–994.
  10. Dewaele, J.M., & Li, C. (2021). Teacher enthusiasm and students’ social-behavioral learning engagement: The mediating role of student enjoyment and boredom in Chinese EFL classes. Language Teaching Research, 25(6), 922–945.
  11. Ding, Y., & Zhao, T. (2020). Emotions, engagement, and self-perceived achievement in a small private online course. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 36(4), 449–457.
  12. Eren, A., & Coskun, H. (2016). Students’ level of boredom, boredom coping strategies, epistemic curiosity, and graded performance. The Journal of Educational Research, 109(6), 574–588.
  13. Everingham, Y.L., Gyuris, E., & Connolly, S.R. (2017). Enhancing student engagement to positively impact mathematics anxiety, confidence and achievement for interdisciplinary science subjects. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 48(8), 1153–1165.
  14. Fabrigar, L.R., Wegener, D.T., Maccallum, R.C., & Strahan, E.J. (1999). Evaluating the use of exploratory factor analysis in psychological research. Psychological Methods, 4(3), 272–299.
  15. Fredricks, J.A., Blumenfeld, P.C., & Paris, A.H. (2004). School Engagement: Potential of the Concept, State of the Evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 59–109.
  16. Hu, L.T., & Bentler, P.M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6(1), 1–55.
  17. Hunter, J.A., Abraham, E.H., Hunter, A.G., Goldberg, L.C., & Eastwood, J.D. (2016). Personality and boredom proneness in the prediction of creativity and curiosity. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 22, 48–57.
  18. Kang, X., & Wu, Y. (2021). Investigating the linkage between school psychological capital and achievement emotions in secondary school mathematics. The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher.
  19. Kang, X., & Wu, Y. (2022). Academic enjoyment, behavioral engagement, self-concept, organizational strategy and achievement in EFL setting: A multiple mediation analysis. PLoS ONE, 17(4), e0267405.
  20. Kang, X., Wu, Y., & Li, L. (2021). Validation and prediction of the school psychological capital among Chinese college students. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 1–11.
  21. Kessels, U., Heyder, A., Latsch, M., & Hannover, B. (2014). How gender differences in academic engagement relate to students’ gender identity. Educational Research, 56(2), 220–229.
  22. Kruk, M., Pawlak, M., & Zawodniak, J. (2021). Another look at boredom in language instruction: The role of the predictable and the unexpected. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 11(1), 15–40.
  23. Lee, J.S. (2014). The relationship between student engagement and academic performance: Is it a myth or reality?. The Journal of Educational Research, 107(3), 177–185.
  24. Lei, H., Cui, Y., & Zhou, W. (2018). Relationships between student engagement and academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 46(3), 517–528.
  25. Li, C., & Li, W. (2022). Anxiety, enjoyment, and boredom in language learning amongst junior secondary students in rural China: How do they contribute to L2 achievement?. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1–16.
  26. Li, C., Dewaele, J.M., & Hu, Y. (2021). Foreign language learning boredom: Conceptualization and measurement. Applied Linguistics Review, 1–27.
  27. Li, C., Dewaele, J.M., & Jiang, G. (2020). The complex relationship between classroom emotions and EFL achievement in China. Applied Linguistics Review, 11(3), 485–510.
  28. Li, S., & Lajoie, S.P. (2021). Cognitive engagement in self-regulated learning: An integrative model. European Journal of Psychology of Education.
  29. Macklem, G.L. (2018). Boredom in the classroom: Addressing student motivation, self-regulation, and engagement in learning. Springer.
  30. Martínez, I.M., Youssef-Morgan, C.M., Chambel, M.J., & Marques-Pinto, A. (2019). Antecedents of academic performance of university students: Academic engagement and psychological capital resources. Educational Psychology, 39(8), 1047–1067.
  31. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998-2012). Mplus User’s Guide: Statistical Analysis with Latent Variables (7th ed.). Los Angeles, CA.
  32. Pawlak, M., Kruk, M., Zawodniak, J., & Pasikowski, S. (2020). Investigating factors responsible for boredom in English classes: The case of advanced learners. System, 91, 1–10.
  33. Pekrun, R. (2006). The Control-Value Theory of Achievement Emotions: Assumptions, Corollaries, and Implications for Educational Research and Practice. Educational Psychology Review, 18, 315–341.
  34. Pekrun, R., & Stephens, E.J. (2010). Achievement emotions: A control-value approach. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4(4), 238–255.
  35. Pekrun, R., Frenzel, A.C., Goetz, T., & Perry, R.P. (2007). The Control-Value Theory of Achievement Emotions: An Integrative Approach to Emotions in Education. Emotion in Education, 13-36.
  36. Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Frenzel, A.C., Barchfeld, P., & Perry, R.P. (2011). Measuring emotions in students’ learning and performance: The Achievement Emotions Questionnaire (AEQ). Contemporary Educational Psychology, 36(1), 36–48.
  37. Pekrun, R., Hall, N.C., Goetz, T., & Perry, R.P. (2014). Boredom and academic achievement: Testing a model of reciprocal causation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(3), 696–710.
  38. Podsakoff, P.M., MacKenzie, S.B., Lee, J.Y., & Podsakoff, N.P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879–903.
  39. Preckel, F., Gotz, T., & Frenzel, A. (2010). Ability grouping of gifted students: Effects on academic self-concept and boredom. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(3), 451–472.
  40. Putwain, D.W., Schmitz, E.A., Wood, P., & Pekrun, R. (2021). The role of achievement emotions in primary school mathematics: Control-value antecedents and achievement outcomes. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(1), 347–367.
  41. 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.
  42. Shao, K., Pekrun, R., Marsh, H.W., & Loderer, K. (2020). Control-value appraisals, achievement emotions, and foreign language performance: A latent interaction analysis. Learning and Instruction, 69, 101356.
  43. Sharp, J.G., Sharp, J.C., & Young, E. (2020). Academic boredom, engagement and the achievement of undergraduate students at university: A review and synthesis of relevant literature. Research Papers in Education, 35(2), 144–184.
  44. Sinatra, G.M., Heddy, B.C., & Lombardi, D. (2015). The Challenges of Defining and Measuring Student Engagement in Science. Educational Psychologist, 50(1), 1–13.
  45. Skinner, E.A., Kindermann, T.A., & Furrer, C.J. (2009). A motivational perspective on engagement and disaffection: Conceptualization and assessment of children’s behavioral and emotional participation in academic activities in the classroom. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 69(3), 493–525.
  46. Tze, V.M.C., Daniels, L.M., & Klassen, R.M. (2016). Evaluating the Relationship Between Boredom and Academic Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 28(1), 119–144.
  47. Tze, V.M.C., Klassen, R.M., & Daniels, L.M. (2014). Patterns of boredom and its relationship with perceived autonomy support and engagement. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 39(3), 175–187.
  48. Xie, J. (2021). The effects of boredom on EFL learners’ engagement. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 10–13.
  49. Zawodniak, J., & Kruk, M. (2018). Boredom in practical English language classes: Insights from interview data. Interdisciplinary views on the English language, literature and culture, University of Zielona Góra, Poland, 177–191.
  50. Zawodniak, J., Kruk, M., & Chumas, J. (2017). Towards conceptualizing boredom as an emotion in the EFL academic context. Konin Language Studies, 5(4), 425–441.



Article Details

Volume 5, Issue 3, Year 2022

Published 2022-09-29


Metrics Loading ...