Assessing Motivation and Learning Strategies Using the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire in a Foreign Language Learning Context

By Huang, Shu-Chen | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, April 20, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Assessing Motivation and Learning Strategies Using the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire in a Foreign Language Learning Context


Huang, Shu-Chen, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


This study pinpointed the lack of, and necessity for, using standardized questionnaires for the study of learner motivation in the foreign language (L2) learning context. To compare the similarities and differences in general education and L2 learning, the researcher chose the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ; Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1991) and investigated the scale's reliability and its correlation with L2 achievement. Results suggested that, in spite of some inherent uniqueness, L2 learning is similar to other subjects in the school environment and the MSLQ has the potential to be applied to L2-related studies.

Keywords: learning motivation, Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire, foreign language learning, Attitude and Motivation Test Battery.

Motivation has generally been considered to be an important factor in student learning and achievement (e.g., Domyei, Csizer, & Nerneth, 2006; Gardner, Tremblay, & Masgoret, 1997; Schunk, Pintrich, & Meese, 2007; Volet & Jarvela, 2001). The fact that learning motivation is not directly observable makes selfreport questionnaires one of the most common types of research instrument utilized (Dornyei, 2001). In general educational settings, various standardized motivation scales have been developed, validated, and applied for both theoretical and pedagogical purposes (Schunk et al., 2007). However, in the specific field of second/foreign language (L2) learning and teaching, standardized survey instruments probing learner motivation are relatively rare and less frequently used (Dörnyei). Many L2 researchers (e.g., Chen, Warden, & Chang, 2005; Kormos & Dörnyei, 2004) developed their own questionnaires because it was the best way to ensure that their particular research needs were adequately addressed. One major problem with this phenomenon is that results cannot be compared across studies and it is difficult to accumulate research results over time.

Despite the prevalence of various customized motivational test batteries, one L2 motivation instrument is well-known and has been adapted repeatedly, that is, Gardner and his associates' Attitude and Motivation Test Battery (AMTB; Gardner, Tremblay, & Masgoret, 1997). The AMTB was first introduced in Gardner's (1985) social-psychological theory of L2 motivation. Originating from the Anglo-Francophone bilingual society in Canada, the theory postulates that motivation to learn a second language can be either integrative or instrumental. Learners with an integrative orientation are genuinely interested in the target language and its associated culture, whereas learners with an instrumental orientation are more concerned with the utility of the target language for practical purposes such as securing a better job or obtaining a raise in pay. The former orientation is generally considered to yield more intensive learning efforts and a better learning outcome.

Although the AMTB is a comprehensive scale (containing 100 items in 12 subscales) developed with procedures to ensure validity and reliability, it is not readily applicable by other L2 researchers to other learning situations. The reasons for this have to do with both construct and context. In terms of theoretical construct, Dörnyei (2005) points out that the AMTB assesses both motivation and motivated behavior, making it difficult "to decide the exact nature of the underlying learner trait that the instrument targets" (p. 73). In terms of research context, the AMTB classifies L2 learning as a social behavior and assumes that social contact with people and their culture represented by the target L2 is a natural part of the learning experience. This is not the case with many L2 learners in other parts of the world. For example, many Asian countries are homogeneous in terms of the language spoken. Opportunities to interact with native English speakers are rare and the saliency of integration in bilingual societies may not be as obvious.

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Assessing Motivation and Learning Strategies Using the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire in a Foreign Language Learning Context
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