Students’ Perceived EFL Teacher Support on Academic Achievement: History
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Recent studies have shown the crucial role of students’ perceived English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher support in their academic learning within their immediate social environments. Nevertheless, little is known about the intricate links among dimensions of perceived EFL teacher support and academic achievement as well as the mediating function of personalities (e.g., academic buoyancy). To close these gaps, a quantitative approach was used to examine the effects of particular dimensions of students’ perceived EFL teacher support (i.e., academic, emotional, and instrumental support) on educational outcomes.

  • students’ perceived EFL teacher support
  • academic achievement
  • mediation role of academic buoyancy

1. Introduction

English as a foreign language (EFL) learning is a lengthy process during which learners may face various setbacks and challenges [1]. Social support from all sources can help EFL learners overcome difficulties and challenges by promoting their personality development and academic advancement [2][3]. Among different sources of social support, teacher support has been revealed to exert a considerable influence on EFL learners’ psychological states [4][5][6] and quality of academic learning [2][7][8]. EFL teachers are so influential that they can affect learners’ personality traits, for instance, enhancing their ability to adapt effectively to challenges and difficulties, by sustaining a close relationship with them [9]. EFL teacher support, a multidimensional construct involving academic, instrumental, and emotional support [10], has been gradually revealed to exert a strong influence on students’ personality development (e.g., academic buoyancy) and academic achievement [9][11][12][13]. However, it remains unclear how different dimensions of EFL teacher support contribute to students’ personality traits (e.g., academic buoyancy) and academic achievement.
The field of foreign language education has witnessed a burgeoning of positive psychological research [14], with some positive psychological factors such as academic buoyancy [9][15], flow [16], second language (L2) grit [7][17], and resilience [18][19] coming into the vision of researchers. As a relatively fresh construct, academic buoyancy reflects the ability to respond effectively to academic failures, difficulties, and hardships typical of the ordinary course of school life [20]. A careful review of the literature revealed that academic buoyancy has received scant attention in the field of foreign language education. Existing studies have revealed antecedents of academic buoyancy, such as EFL teacher support [9][13][21] and the impact of academic buoyancy on EFL achievement [9][22]. Considering the effect of students’ perceived EFL teacher support on their aforementioned academic achievement, researchers might assume that academic buoyancy may serve as a mediator between EFL teacher support and academic achievement. Therefore, a more comprehensive and deepened analysis involving all these three factors is needed to uncover the intricate links among them.

2. Social Support Model and EFL Teacher Support

Social support, serving as an effective buffer against adverse effects for social beings [23][24], has proven to exert a significant impact on individuals’ personality development, especially in enhancing their ability to shield against challenges, such as buoyancy [25] and resilience [26][27][28]. For the systematic study of social support, Tardy [29] proposed a social support model, which can be divided into five levels: direction, disposition, description/evaluation, content, and network. Direction refers to whether the individual offers or receives support; disposition means whether social support is available or has been enacted; description/evaluation describes whether an individual evaluates or describes social support; content of support shows the type of social support; network relates to the source of social support. Among different sources in the social support network, teacher support has been confirmed to have a much stronger effect than support from family and friends [30][31]. Chu et al. [30] conducted a meta-analysis to investigate the impact of different sources of social support, demonstrating that teacher and school personnel support have a more substantial effect than support from family and friends. They also stated that school relationships are more stable, whereas social relationships with family and friends are subject to conflicts. Liu and Li [10] introduced Tardy’s social support model into the field of foreign language education. They discovered that EFL teacher support is a three-dimensional construct entailing academic, instrumental, and emotional support. Academic support refers to teachers educating pupils about English language knowledge and giving constructive feedback. Emotional support reflects the attention, kindness, and sympathy provided to students. Instrumental support entails tangible resources such as time and services given by teachers in their English teaching. In the current study, a tri-factorial structure was adopted, conceptualizing EFL teacher support as composed of academic instruction, emotional care, and tangible assistance.

3. EFL Teacher Support and Academic Achievement

Researchers have substantiated the essential role of students’ perceived EFL teacher support in their academic learning psychology [7][12][32], academic emotion [4][5][33], and academic engagement [2][7][8]. All of these factors exert a strong influence on students’ educational learning experience and can be potential positive predictors of students’ academic achievement. In addition, teacher–learner interpersonal relationships, a similar construct of teacher support, have been revealed to embody a significant constructive correlation with academic achievement [34]. Positive psychological factors such as L2 grit, well-being, and self-efficacy were found to mediate the association between teacher–learner interpersonal relationships and learners’ academic success [34]. Furthermore, researchers have also revealed the impact of students’ perceived EFL teacher support on their academic achievement [11][35]. Chen and Chen [11] investigated different sources of social support (i.e., parents, teachers, and peers) on students’ EFL academic achievement. The final results indicate that teacher support has positive effects on academic achievement. In a similar manner, Chen’s [35] research proves that perceived teacher support made the most total (i.e., direct and indirect) contribution to student academic achievement. However, Piechurska–Kuciel’s [36] study depicts a different picture, indicating that teacher support is assessed lowest of all forms of social support and has no significant impact on students’ EFL achievement. The inconsistent findings drove researchers to explore the role of EFL teacher support in students’ academic achievement.

4. EFL Teacher Support and Academic Buoyancy

The predictive role of students’ perceived teacher support in their personality development (e.g., academic buoyancy) has been emphasized within the field of general education [37][38][39]. Chong et al. [37] discovered that teacher support could indirectly impact students’ academic buoyancy via cognitive and affective engagement. In addition, Rohinsa et al. [38] demonstrated that teacher support can predict the emergence of academic buoyancy and that academic buoyancy mediates the effect of teacher support on students’ engagement. Furthermore, Granziera et al. [39] investigated the impact of various types of teacher support on academic buoyancy, revealing that academic buoyancy is positively associated with perceived instrumental support but showing no relationship with perceived emotional support. Unfortunately, little research has been done on the link between perceived EFL teacher support and academic buoyancy in the field of foreign language education. Yun et al. [9] identified the predictors of EFL learners’ academic buoyancy, among which the teacher–student relationship, a significant reflection of teacher support, was an essential predictive factor of their academic buoyancy. Li [13] offered a review concerning the impact of social support on buoyancy and resilience, which sheds light on the essential role of EFL teacher support in influencing students’ academic buoyancy in language learning. Furthermore, a recent study conducted by Fu [21] proves that teacher support can enhance English learners’ buoyancy. It can be seen that researchers in general education generally agree on the predictive of teacher support on academic achievement, although research in foreign language education is relatively limited. Therefore, there is a need to verify the predictive role of students’ perceived EFL teacher support on their academic buoyancy.

5. Academic Buoyancy and Academic Achievement

Academic buoyancy, or the capacity to respond effectively to academic failures, difficulties, and hardships [20], has gradually attracted attention within the field of EFL learning and teaching [9][40]. Theoretically, academic buoyancy was a noteworthy indicator of educational outcomes, faculty satisfaction, student involvement, and overall self-confidence [41][42]. Researchers have also conducted empirical studies to substantiate the predictive effect of academic buoyancy on EFL academic achievement [9][22][40]. According to Aydin and Michou [22], academic buoyancy acts as a mediator in the relationship between students’ need satisfaction and their final EFL achievement. Furthermore, academic buoyancy proved to be a significant predictor of EFL academic achievement and to also act as a mediator of the effect of the predictors (e.g., the teacher–student relationship) on EFL achievement [9].
In conclusion, a significant relationship exists among students’ perceived EFL teacher support, personality traits, and academic achievement. Theoretical insights have shed light on the crucial contribution of EFL teacher support, as a vital component within the social support model, to students’ personality development (e.g., academic buoyancy) and academic achievement [29]. In addition, empirical research shows that getting adequate support from EFL teachers can strengthen students’ academic buoyancy [9][21] and improve their academic performance [11][35]. Moreover, studies support that academic buoyancy can be a positive predictor of academic performance [9][22][43]. However, existing studies on the impact of EFL teacher support on academic buoyancy are relatively limited. Further research is required to deepen the understanding of the intricate relationship between EFL teacher support, academic buoyancy, and academic achievement.

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/su151310205


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