Special lssues

Learning Motivations, Emotional Engagement, and Academic Psychological Capitals of College Students

Submission Deadline: 31 December 2023 (closed)

Guest Editors

Chuanyi Wang, Tsinghua University, wcy1985@tsinghua.edu.cn
Chuanyi Wang is an associate professor in the Institute of Education at Tsinghua University. An awardee of Tsinghua University Zhongying Youth Scholar, he is the Vice Director of the Ministry of Education-Tsinghua University Center of Research on Education Strategy and National Planning, the Vice Director of Center of Research on Graduate Education at Tsinghua University, while concurrently serving as an editorial board member of “Humanities and Social Sciences Communications” (SSCI/A&HCI,JCR Q1) and the Vice Secretary General of the Academic Committee of Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Association of China.  

Fei Guo, Tsinghua University, feiguo0121@tsinghua.edu.cn
Fei Guo is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Education in Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. She holds an MA and a PhD in Economics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She received a BA in International Economics from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. Her research interests include student learning and development in higher education, higher education evaluation, and educational equality and equity in China. She is a Tang scholar supported by the Cyrus Tang Foundation. 

Yihong Cheng, Boston College, chengyz@bc.edu
Yihong Cheng is a research assistant who has served at the Innovative Urban Science Education Lab in Lynch School of Education and Human Development at Boston College for four years. 


Psychological well-being plays an acute role towards harnessing individual behaviors and outcomes in general and also in academics. Students with higher psychological well-being tend to have higher involvement, vigor and absorption in and outside the classroom in college. Students’ active involvement in educational activities is referred to as “student engagement” in the scholarly literature. Though still under discussion, most scholars agree that the three major elements of student engagement are behaviors, cognition, and affections. Among the current literature in the higher education setting, the affective dimension is less investigated in comparison to the other two. It includes the motivations of learning, emotional feelings in studying, as well as psychological well-being of students in college. Motivations reflect students’ understanding of the value of learning, and therefore influence their devotion in studying. For instance, studies with external motivation may consider learning as a means to achieve high grades or obtain qualifications, and therefore may use more surface learning strategies. In comparison, students with internal motivations are motivated by their interests and pleasures in the learning and therefore engaged more in deep learning. Emotions are also important in a way that students who feel safe and supported on campus have higher commitment both academically and socially. In addition, positive psychological states of mind such as enthusiasts, self-efficacy and resilience in learning are also crucial factors to enhance student academic behaviors and outcomes, especially when they encounter difficulties and obstacles. Such attitudinal virtues are called psychological capitals as they are related to people’s potentials and abilities to responsively mange and influence the environment. Learning motivations, emotional involvement, and psychological capitals in the academic setting interweave and influence students’ experience in college. But this dynamic, complex and individual psycho-social process is often overlooked in the current literature under the dominant behavioral perspective to student engagement. It is hard to understand and help students with learning difficulties and disengaged in college without a deep comprehension of their psychological experiences. This special issue, from a psycho-social perspective, aims to explore and understand college students’ motivations and goals of learning, emotional and affective involvement in college, and academic psychological capitals they possess to overcome difficulties in learning. We call for empirical on the following topics, include but not limit to: the current status of students’ learning motivations, emotional engagement, academic psychological capitals in various types of higher education institutions and different countries, factors influencing the above aspects, and the impacts of the above aspects on students’ behavioral and cognitive engagement and learning outcome. Providing a more nuanced understanding of what is happening for individual students, the present special issue hopes to lead to useful suggestions on how to support students better to facilitate their learning and development in college.


Learning motivation; Emotional engagement; academic psychological capitals; Learning outcomes; College students

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