Achievement Motivational Characteristics of University Foreign Language Learners: From the Classroom to the Tutoring Table

By Matthews, Paul H. | Foreign Language Annals, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Achievement Motivational Characteristics of University Foreign Language Learners: From the Classroom to the Tutoring Table


Matthews, Paul H., Foreign Language Annals


Abstract:

What influences who seeks foreign language tutoring? Using expectancy value theory, the present study researches the characteristics of university foreign language students in the language classroom (n = 258) and seeking tutoring (n = 29). Students' performance and mastery goal orientations, achievement task values, self-efficacy for foreign language learning, and academic variables were assessed and compared across groups. Foreign language students seeking tutoring were characterized by higher mastery and performance goal orientations and lower overall grade point averages, than those classroom students not seeking tutoring. Additionally, the generally high scores of all students on the motivational variables suggest that pessimistic views of foreign language students' self-efficacy and motivation may be unwarranted.

Keywords: foreign language tutoring, achievement motivation, university foreign language student characteristics

Language: relevant to all languages

Introduction

Students in many university foreign language courses have access to many resources to help their language learning and acquisition. For instance, students might seek help from peers or the instructor, look for native-speaking conversation partners, find supplemental textbooks, or take advantage of individualized tutoring opportunities. Tutoring, in particular, has a strong track record in improving learning across a number of academic domains (Cohen, Kulik, & Kulik, 1982; Lepper, Aspinwall, Mumme, & Chabay, 1990; Merrill, Reiser, Ranney, & Trafton, 1992). While foreign language tutoring frequently is available in formal programs sponsored by schools and universities, in outside sessions with the teacher or a more proficient student, and through private sector, for-profit agencies, not all students take advantage of this resource. Furthermore, research on foreign language tutoring is scarce; we do not know, for instance, who chooses to attend tutoring sessions and why. To help lay the groundwork for understanding foreign language tutoring, the present study offers baseline data grounded in achievement motivation theory to describe academic and motivational characteristics of university foreign language students, including both those who seek out tutoring and those who do not.

As Oxford and Shearin (1994) point out, understanding student motivation has practical implications for learners and their teachers and tutors:

[M]otivation directly influences how often students use [foreign language] learning strategies, how much students interact with native speakers, how much input they receive in the language being learned (the target language), how well they do on curriculum-related achievement tests, how high their general proficiency level becomes, and how long they persevere and maintain [foreign language] skills after language study is over . . . Therefore, motivation is extremely important for [foreign language] learning, and it is crucial to understand what our students' motivations are. (p. 12)

Awareness of students' motivational profiles may help teachers and tutors provide more appropriate recommendations and interventions to support student foreign language learning. How, then, do foreign language students who seek tutoring compare with those who may also need, but do not seek out, such help? It is tempting to assume that students investing the time and energy to participate in tutoring outside of class are just "more highly motivated" than those who do not. However, motivation does not seem to be a simple, one-sided construct that students "have" or "lack." As researchers such as Dörnyei (2001b) have pointed out, "there has been a considerable diversity of theories and approaches in the study of the motivational determinants of second language acquisition and use" (p. 46). Using well-established motivational constructs which have not yet been applied to the foreign language domain can help extend and deepen our understanding of our students in increasingly sophisticated ways. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Achievement Motivational Characteristics of University Foreign Language Learners: From the Classroom to the Tutoring Table
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.