Issues of pupil motivation for language learning in year 7

Deckner, Sebastian Ephraim (2015). Issues of pupil motivation for language learning in year 7. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis presents a study of the motivation of UK school pupils to learn a modern foreign language. The study involved 345 year 7 pupils learning either French or German in a large inner-city school based in an urban area in central England.

Anecdotal evidence and personal experience suggested a widespread decrease in motivation for modern language learning during the course of year 7. The purpose of the study was to seek evidence substantiating or refuting the hypothesis of a motivational dip and to investigate factors that might affect any perceived changes in motivation.

The research design was inspired by elements of the Dynamic Systems Approach (DSA), particularly the idea of attractors and repellers. This study attempted to incorporate elements of DSA through the design of two questionnaires, which were used to collect the data in the autumn of 2007 and spring/summer 2008.

The data were analysed employing both quantitative and qualitative methodology and the findings suggested that there was indeed evidence of a motivational dip occurring within the time span under investigation. Contrary to discussions in the literature and wider society the drop in motivation could not be explained through the impact of individual factors, such as the teacher, nor did any combination of factors seem to suggest predictable outcomes.

However, the findings did appear to confirm characteristics of a complex dynamic system present in the construct of motivation as suggested by DSA and provided evidence that particular factors may act as strong attractors and repellers. Further to this, the importance for motivation of feelings of belonging and emotional well-being in the classroom situation was strongly implied in the pupils’ responses, suggesting that current teacher training strategies and educational policies may need to be re-focused if this is confirmed in future research.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools


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