English Teaching Resources - Motivation

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This page has information on my joint research with Stephanie Komashin on motivation in English teaching. We use a participation tracking system we developed and also a pre-class survey to assess the motivational practices of students.


Surveyed Thoughts about Participation versus Actual Participation
This project evaluated the meaningfulness of a pre-class survey by looking at how students participate in comparison with a set of self-reported issues. The study took place in 15 core curriculum English classes taught by two instructors at a national university. At the start of each semester, students filled out a survey including questions on about their feelings towards the class they will take using a Likert scale to measure: Excitement, Worry, Confidence, Usefulness, Skillfulness, and perceived Difficulty. These features give students a way to express their attitudes towards participation. Throughout the semester, student participation events were recorded during each class session using an iPad and rated on an individual level as “Excellent,” “Good,” “Okay,” “Poor,” and “Sleep.” These were reentered using a points system with “Excellent,” “Good,” and “Okay” receiving positive values and “Poor” and “Sleep” receiving negative values. Normalizing these participation activities for each class, these values were compared with the students’ impressions about the class at the beginning of the class. At the 95% confidence level, this study found no correlations between student’s stated perceptions of worry and class difficulty. For Instructor A, both particular classes and the aggregate indicated a correlation between students’ reported excitement towards a class and its perceived usefulness and their subsequent participation. For Instructor B, one class correlated positively based on how skilled they believed they were and another class correlated negatively with student’s perceived confidence, but these correlations disappeared in aggregate. From this, the study concludes that students’ self-reported beliefs and expectations do not meaningfully track their subsequent willingness and ability to participate well in classes. Consequently, it suggests that alternative methods such as comparing participation in a sample class session are necessary to meaningful measure student participation.
You can download our JACET 2018 Presentation here. Since the presentation we have adjusted the focus of our research -- based on helpful comments that we were not looking at "Willingness to Communicate" which is a psychological concept that primarily looks at failures to communicate.