What can the language teacher do to motivate students?

  • Mikiko Kawano

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This action research study examines the relation between learner motivation and class activities. I also explore the ways to teach self-motivating strategies. The setting of this study is in my classroom in an ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) program in Australia.

    A variety of data gathering tools was employed over twenty weeks and these included questionnaires, essay writing, student feedback forms, interviews, diary entries and class observations. Eight action research cycles are described, showing how class activities were utilised and modified to motivate students and to guide them toward more active and independent learning, for which students needed metacognitive skills. A small sample size (fourteen students) made it possible for me to describe motivational changes of all the students, and this close examination results in detailed descriptions of the lived experience of each student.

    Analysis of the data suggests that class activities did not have a clear influence on learners’ trait motivation although they might have positively affected state motivation. On the other hand, their negative influence on state motivation was clear in the case of one student. Also the data suggest three results different from previous research. Firstly, instrumentality played an important role in the current study, whereas it was previously said to have merely an indirect influence on motivation. Secondly, an autonomy-supportive environment was not motivating for my students. Lastly, a mastery/performance dichotomy in terms of goal setting was not significant. Generally, the results indicate the importance of obtaining in-depth information about what students think in order to create a motivating classroom for a particular group of students. The findings accordingly point to the value of action research on a small sample size to help us to better understand the complexity of learner motivation.
    Date of AwardFeb 2008
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPaul Black (Supervisor)

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