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Exploring college students’ motivational beliefs in ability-grouped English classes in Taiwan

TSAI, HUI-JU (2015) Exploring college students’ motivational beliefs in ability-grouped English classes in Taiwan. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



According to research on social-cognitive theory, motivation can be defined as a way of belief in one’s own competence, to value the task and further to achieve the set goals. Researchers have suggested a direct link between motivation beliefs and student achievement. In order to understand whether the motivation beliefs of students would be different in an EFL ability grouping context, this study examined an integrated motivation model including instrumentality, achievement goal, self-efficacy, expectancy-value, attribution, and self-regulation amongst three different ability groups at one university in Taiwan.

Participants were grouped in three different level based on their pre-test scores: advanced level group, higher-intermediate level group and intermediate level group. Their academic achievements were demonstrated comparing their attitude towards ability grouping with their perception of the motivation variables. The purpose of this research is to discover whether ability grouping setting is beneficial for both student motivation and performance in EFL classes.

In a survey study, 681 college students in a first-year undergraduate English course completed a motivation questionnaire. The results of this study revealed that student instrumentality, achievement goal, expectancy-value, self-efficacy and self-regulation are significantly positively correlated with their attitudes in an ability grouping context. Linear regression analyses demonstrate that expectancy-value was the strongest predictor of students’ post-test scores, and there are other predictors such as student level and their perception of attributions. However, self-efficacy, performance goals, and self-regulation were not significant predictors to student academic performance in the integrated model.

In addition, the study revealed a preference of mastery goals for students in higher ability groups and a preference of attributions for lower-achieving group. However, there were no differences in instrumentality, performance goals, and self-regulation amongst the three ability groups, suggesting that students at ability grouping classes are no difference in the motivational belief of instrumental goal, performance goals and self-regulation. By contrast, there were differences in student motivation in attitudes, instrumentality, expectancy-value, mastery goal, self-efficacy and mastery goals in an ability grouping class. Consequently, the findings suggest teachers should be encouraged to create an environment where developing student motivation is encouraged in order to develop further the achievement rate within the confines of an EFL ability grouping class.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:ability grouping, language learning motivation
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Nov 2015 11:40

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