Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

What Chinese Cultural Values and Instructional Practices Influence Chinese Middle School Students' Reading Motivation in Taiwan 1

Academic journal article Quarterly Journal of Chinese Studies

What Chinese Cultural Values and Instructional Practices Influence Chinese Middle School Students' Reading Motivation in Taiwan 1

Article excerpt

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Motivation is among the most powerful forces in determining students' success or failure in school (Hidi & Harackiewicz 2000), and a lack of motivation is at the root of many of the problems that classroom teachers face (edmunds & Bauserman 2006). Research has widely reported that the motivation to learn in all academic subjects appears to decline during the late elementary school years and the transition to middle school (Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele 1998; Guthrie & Davis 2003; Guthrie, Wigfield., & Klauda 2012). In particular, students' perception of their own academic competence and motivation to read begins to decline by the seventh grade (Harter 1996; Huang 2013).

Many researchers have recently taken an interest in students' motivation to read, and have incorporated the questions of "why" students do not want to read into the epistemic framework of their studies (Gambrell, Palmer, Codling, & Mazzoni 1996; Guthrie, Schafer, Wang, & Afflerbach 1995; Guthrie, Hoa, Wigfield, Tonks, Humenick, & Littles 2007). Most research has been conducted in elementary classrooms in the United States (edmunds & Bauserman 2006). Relatively few studies have considered the middle school contexts outside of the United States; even fewer have specifically investigated Chinese students' motivation in the reading domain (Author 2013; Lau & Chan 2003; Lau 2004). Research further indicates that an examination of the role of cultural groups in influencing students' reading motivation is relatively absent in the current literature (Huang 2013). Given these limitations, an explanation of what factors are associated with reading motivation in different cultures and language groups is needed (Wigfield & Eccles 2002).

As motivation theories are rooted in Western cultures and contexts, the importance of examining applicability of these theories to different ethnic and cultural groups has recently been discussed in numerous studies (Li 2002; McInerney 2008). Some research has gone beyond school settings and classrooms to take into account the substantial influence of the students' cultures and values (Huang 2013; Lau 2009; Lepper, Corpus, & Iyengar 2005; Wang & Guthrie 2004). These studies have found that cultural values, beliefs, and school contexts can shape an individual's motivational and learning behavioral patterns (Lau & Chan 2003; Lau 2004; Salili, Chiu, & Lai 2001). Limited existing literature was found to investigate how culture and instructional methods affect Chinese middle school students' reading motivation (Huang 2013; Lau & Chan 2003; Wang & Guthrie 2004). The effects of different structures of learning contexts that influence Chinese middle school students' reading motivation needs further investigation and exploration (Huang 2013; Lau 2004, 2009).

A great deal of research studies in motivation that have employed a quantitative research design and used "what" pre-established categories to collect students' responses; only a few qualitative research studies were found to explore "why" in the field of reading motivation (Oldfather & Wigfield, 1996; Turner 2001). Researchers have suggested that qualitative methods, including interviews and observation, would be useful to examine student motivation in the literacy domains (Perry, Vandekamp, Mercer, & Nordby 2002). In particular, issues related to cultural and social aspects of motivation are even less explored in qualitative studies (Patrick & Middleton 2002).

Given such limitations in the literature and with relatively little data-driven research on reading motivation in middle schools in Taiwan, it is necessary to investigate what cultural, social and educational contexts are related to Chinese students' reading motivation, and whether reading motivation plays the same important role as it does in the Western context.


east-West Cultural Differences

Research has identified a variety of differences between Chinese and Western cultures such as emotion, cognition, and academic performance (Chen, Stevenson, Hayward, & Burgess 1995). …

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