Chapter One Introduction
1.1 Background of the Study
With the development of humanistic psychology, foreign language teaching research has changed from teacher-centered to student-centered, in which learners’ affective factors have attracted more and more attention, according to the National English Curriculum Standard for Compulsory Education (abbreviated as Standards) (Ministry of Education 2020), “……the general senior high school English curriculum should establish a curriculum evaluation system that gives students full responsibility and promotes students’ comprehensive, healthy, and individualized development. The evaluation should focus on and promote the formation and development of students’ subject core competencies. It should adopt the multi-evaluation method by combining formative evaluation and summative evaluation, advocate the philosophy of evaluation for learning, and pay due attention to the elements such as students’ emotions, attitudes, and values demonstrated in the process of English learning” (Ministry of Education 2020: 2).
Motivation and self-efficacy, as important affective factors affecting language learning, have always been a research hotspot in the field of language acquisition.
1.2 Research Purpose
Senior high school, English curriculum education focuses on developing cognitive ability and affective factors. However, despite various teaching methods, students’ English performance is still unsatisfactory in actual English teaching. Teachers may focus more on training language skills and knowledge than students’ affective factors. English learning motivation and self-efficacy are critical affective factors affecting senior high school students’ language learning process and “play an important role in learners’ second language acquisition” (Chen 2019: 64).
This paper explores the level and correlation between senior high school students’ English learning motivation and self-efficacy. On this basis, this paper puts forward some teaching suggestions to help students improve their English learning motivation and English learning self-efficacy.
Theoretically, this paper enriches the relevant research results on English learning motivation and English learning self-efficacy, verifies the effectiveness of second language motivational self-system and self-efficacy theory in the context of Chinese senior high school, and further enriches the relevant research on individual differences in second language acquisition at the level of positive psychology. This extends the study of motivation and self-efficacy in foreign language education.
Chapter Two Literature Review
2.1 Research on the English Learning Motivation
The following part reviewed the definitions and empirical studies of English learning motivation.
2.1.1 Definitions of English Learning Motivation
Although the vital role of motivation in second language acquisition is generally recognized, the definitions of motivation (e.g., Gardner & Lambert 1959; Deci & Ryan 1985; Brown 1981; Dörnyei 2005) are different.
In the late 1950s, Gardner and Lambert began to study foreign language learning motivation and put forward a theoretical framework. They divided motivation into integrative motivation and instrumental motivation. “Integrative motivation in language study is to learn more about the language group or to meet more and different people.” In contrast, “instrumental motivation reflects the more utilitarian value of linguistic achievement” (1959: 267). Deci and Ryan (1985) distinguished between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation originates from learners’ interest in the task, which is the positive emotional experience generated by learners in completing the task, such as satisfaction of curiosity, sense of achievement, and so on. Extrinsic motivation is associated with stimuli outside the task, such as money, punishment, score, and so on. Brown defined motivation as “an inner drive or stimulus, which can, like self-esteem, be global, situational, or task-oriented” (1987: 115).
2.2 Research on the English Learning Self-efficacy
The following part reviewed the definitions and empirical studies of English learning self-efficacy.
2.2.1 Definitions of English Learning Self-efficacy
Bandura put forward the self-efficacy theory, which was “a person’s judgment of his/her capability to accomplish a certain level of performance” (1986: 391). The result of judgment will directly affect a person’s behavior motivation.
After this concept was put forward, many researchers defined self-efficacy from different angles. Gist & Mitchell defined self-efficacy as “the estimation of orchestration capacity” (1992: 2), which was a more complex generation process. Schunk defined self-efficacy as “perceived competence and confidence in performing classwork” (1990: 4). Combined with the characteristics of English learning, scholars at home and abroad defined self-efficacy in English learning from many angles. Zimmerman argued that language learning self-efficacy “focuses on performance capabilities rather than on personal qualities, and depended on a mastery criterion of performance rather than on normative or other criteria”, and “self-efficacy judgments specifically refer to future functioning and are assessed before students perform the relevant activities” (2000: 84). Bian also mentioned that “……perceived academic efficacy or perceived academic self-efficacy refers to the individual’s belief in academic ability. It refers to evaluating learners’ confidence in using their abilities or skills to complete learning tasks. It is a subjective judgment and subjective feeling of individuals’ ability to control their learning behavior and academic performance. Learning self-efficacy is the performance of self-efficacy in the field of learning” (2004: 1).
Chapter Three Theoretical Framework.....................................22
3.1 Second Language Motivational Self System................................22
3.2 Self-efficacy Theory.......................................23
Chapter Four Research Design...................................25
4.1 Research Participants........................................25
4.2 Research Instruments.........................................26
Chapter Five Results and Discussion..............................31
5.1 Levels of Students’ English Learning Motivation..........................31
5.2 Levels of Students’ English Learning Self-efficacy.......................34
Chapter Five Results and Discussion
5.1 Levels of Students’ English Learning Motivation
Table 5.1 shows senior high school students’ English learning motivation levels from four aspects: maximum, minimum, means, and standard deviation. According to the classification criteria of the Likert 5 subscale by Oxford and Burry-Stock (1995), the mean greater than or equal to 3.5 was the high level, the mean more significant than 2.5 but less than 3.4 was the medium level, and the mean less than or equal to 2.4 was the low level. As shown in table 5.1, the average level of students’ English learning motivation was 3.20 (SD=0.684), indicating that senior high school students' English learning motivation was at the medium level. For the three dimensions of English learning motivation, the average level of “ideal second language self” was 3.29 (SD=0.986), and the average level of “second language learning experience” was 3.26 (SD=0.913), while the average level of “ought-to second language self” was 3.06 (SD=0.726). The average levels of each dimension were displayed in descending order.
Chapter Six Conclusion
6.1 Major Findings
This study aims to find the correlation between English learning motivation and self-efficacy. Major findings are presented as follows:
Generally, senior high school students reported a median level of English learning motivation. Students’ motivation was mainly in the ideal second language self and second language learning experience, which indicated the need for helping students set reasonable goals and improving the classroom atmosphere to improve students’ sense of pleasure. However, the level of ought-to second language self was relatively low. Therefore, helping students know themselves in an all-around way and improving their self-cognition ability is an excellent choice to improve their motivation levels.
Overall, the level of student self-efficacy in English classes was at a medium level. The result revealed that self-efficacy was a relatively obvious emotion in everyday English learning, influencing students’ efforts in investing, problem-solving ability, and generality of self-evaluation in English classes. Moreover, such positive emotions can promote English learning motivation and outcomes. However, sometimes, students could complete the tasks instructed by the teacher; however, they were not very active. For example, they usually responded passively to the questions asked by the teacher in class rather than raising their hands to answer. The reason may be related to students’ low confidence levels and judgment of their capability. Therefore, teachers’ guides for students to make correct self-suggestion and appropriate encouragement are good choices to improve their levels of self-efficacy.