5.3 The Relationship between the Motivation for EFL Learning and the
5.3.1 The Age-related Development of Overall Intrinsic Learning
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5.3 The Relationship between the Motivation for EFL Learning and the Intrinsic Motivation for Overall Academic Learning
There are two main sections contained in this part: the discussion of the SIEM result and the relationship between the two motivations.
5.3.1 The Age-related Development of Overall Intrinsic Learning Motivation
The age-related changes of intrinsic drive were examined by the either-or questionnaire, the SIEM. Although the results of the SIEM indicated a slight decline of intrinsic learning drive, except for those of 4th grade, the mean scores of each subscale actually remained so close that refused age as a significant predictor for the development of overall intrinsic motivation. The results are discussed as follows.
First, a consistent development of motivation among the pupils was measured because ,except for the subscale ‘challenge’, the mean scores of the other five subscales all reached the peak in 4th grade, then dropped moderately in 5th grade and remained little changed ever since. Findings of some previous studies, such as Harter (1981) and Carreira (2011), also indicated a motivation decline in the course of maturation. The reasons contributed to this motivation deterioration may be due to the following reasons as found in some previous studies: repeated use of extrinsic constrains that undermined students’ autonomous learning motive (Kohn, 1993), too much school controls and regulations that eliminated students’ spontaneous exploration (Midgley & Feldlaufer, 1987), more and more complicated and decontextualized content with less and less practicality in daily life that held students
from moving forward (Brown & Campione, Bruner, 1996), and accumulated bad experiences of scoring low grades (Lens et al., 2009). If that is a tendency, teachers should not only take advantages of pupils’ golden learning age but also be prepared for the changes to come, be careful with the backwash of exceeding extrinsic rewards, constrains and punishment, and be on the right track with contextualized teaching materials, so as to keep students highly motivated in learning.
Second, the subscales ‘curiosity’ and ‘enjoyment’ won the first and second places respectively throughout all age groups, implying that a large portion of the students liked to learn various things because they wanted to and they were happy and interested in learning. Kashdan and Silvia (2009) argued that these two values are the core of intrinsically motivated learning action. Most of the theories suggested that when students are curious, they take the initiative in probing questions (Peters, 1978), reading broadly and profoundly (Schiefele, 1999), searching for interesting topics (Silvia, 2005), and persisting on challenging works (Sansone, Thoman, & Smith, 2000). When it comes to enjoyment, Tomkins (1962) argued that this factor, in contrast with curiosity, motivates people to make a connection with something they are familiar and happy with. Hence, the results seemed to reveal that the pupils were pleased with what they had learned and interested in learning new knowledge as well.
There was no significant decline of intrinsic motivation measured. What could be the possible factors contributed to this somewhat untraditional outcome? New pedagogical theories and innovative teaching methods might be the answers. Thanks to the revolutionary education approaches and the flourishing multi-media teaching materials, the classrooms today are very different from those decades ago. Take
computer-assisted teaching for example. Numerous studies have proposed that using computers upgrades not only effectiveness in teaching and learning but also attention and motivation (Beatty, 2013; Erhel & Jamet, 2013; Lee, 2000; Song & Keller, 2001).
The experimental program, flipped classroom, is now implementing in this selected school, too. According to the survey carried out by Bishop and Verleger (2013), students’ perceptions of the flipped classroom are generally positive. Gilboy, Heinerichs, and Pazzaglia (2015) also reported a more active and engaged learning among students in flipped classroom.
Yet, despite these bright sides, a dramatic and conflicting low score was found in the subscale of ‘challenge’, which indicated that these pupils were actually challenge avoiders. The ‘curiosity’, ‘mastery’, and ‘challenge’ subscales are considered to be inter-correlated, in that they all possess the qualities of being interested in new things, being capable of exploring new things, and then being confident enough to deal with the challenges from the new things (Harter, 1981; Kashdan & Silvia, 2009). Hence, when individuals are highly curious in learning, they should be pleasant in pursuing challenges, and that was why this analytical result seemed to be somewhat contradictory. Participants’ statements in open-ended questions 5 also released a general negative attitude toward quizzes, shadowing pupils’ preference of easy tasks.
This preference may be resulted from their exceeding emphases on grades (Harter, 1981) because difficult tasks could potentially jeopardize their academic outcomes and if they want to win high scores, they’d better play it safe. Corpus, McClintic-Gilbert, and Hayenga (2006) also identified a preference presumably for easy work among young learners due to their desire to protect and prove their
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competence so as to please others (e.g. parents or teachers).
In accordance with the findings of Harter (1981) and Corpus et al. (2006),
‘challenge’ avoidance seems to be more true among younger learners because this was the only subscale that won better score from the older students than that from the younger ones. The result implied a seemingly plausible trend that students in higher grades possess better self-efficacy, knowledge, and confidence that enables them to cope with challenges and to make their own judgments regardless of considering whether they may succeed or fail (Harter, 1981). To prevent this essential intrinsic quality from being undermined, teachers should be very careful when designing challenging tasks as well as evaluating students’ performances.