Students Perceptions On Their Learning Motivations

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Higher education in Cambodia has just boomed since the end of country's internal conflict. Since then it has started to change itself to adapt with the force of the globalization. The Cambodian higher education system has developed significantly especially in private sector. For instance, there are 32 public and 45 private higher education institutions located in 19 provinces out of 24 provinces (UNESCO, 2010-2013). According to Higher Education Institute in Asia Pacific handbook (2004), after 1980, nine public higher education institutions were established to focus on key sectors such as agriculture, medicine, economics, industry, technology, teacher training, science, art and culture and later follow by other fifteen technical and professional training institutions. The nine public institutions are the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), the University of Health Science, the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), Faculty of Agronomy, Royal University of Fine Art, Faculty of Business, Faculty of Law and Economic Science, Faculty of Pedagogy, and The Vedic Maharishi University which located in Prey Veng Province. Furthermore, there are many types of higher education institutions. The table below shows clearly about different types of higher education institutions in Cambodia.

Table 1: Types of Higher Education and Their Offerings

(Higher Education Institute in Asia Pacific, 2004).

Types of  higher education institutions

Degree programs

Non-degree programs


Bachelor, Diploma



Diploma of Engineering

University Diploma


Diploma, Bachelor License

Baccalaureate, Professional Diploma, University Diploma

This is the starting point of the higher education development. Not only the Royal government of Cambodia who struggles to fulfill this mission, but also other foreign parties such as Australia, the United State, France and especially World Bank who help to reform the higher education system in Cambodia. The Ministry of Education has implemented policy to enhance the accessibility as well as the quality of higher education to complete the social and market need in the globalization era (Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, 2007).

Problem Statement

Due to the efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia and other NGOs, higher education system in Cambodia has remarkably improved in current situation. As the result, there are many state and private higher education institutions. This trend has attracted private sector to involve in the overall development of higher education. Nowadays, even though this field is gradually growing, there is one issue emerging: a small amount of recent graduate universities have found work. That leaves a high unemployment rate among new graduates. There may be problems attribute to high rate. Therefore, this study examines issues that may contribute to juniors' and seniors' students' language learning motivation throughout their undergraduate program. Learning motivation can be an effective tool which provides classroom achievement to students.

Research Objectives

To examine issues that may contribute to undergraduate students' language learning motivation throughout their undergraduate program, this study will explore the students' perceptions on learning motivation that may contribute to their success or failure in academic performance. Then the findings of the study will inform the participants of their current individual language learning motivations that can help them and future juniors and seniors to perform differently in their study. Finally, it will dig out the effective learning motivations which will be shown when the result is released.

Research Questions

Based on students' perceptions, what contribute to their individual language learning motivations?

Based on students' experiences, what do they view as most effective language learning motivations?

Significance of the Study

The findings from this study will help to find out perceptions from students over their language learning motivation contributing to their results in university study. Moreover, the findings will seek out the effective language motivations to ensure achievement in classroom learning, and help to introduce useful strategies for stimulating motivation in language learning as well as to alert the university students about their current learning motivation. Plus, teachers will identify the various effective learning motivations throughout this study and prepare to stimulate students' learning motivation in the manner of good result in their teaching. The program designers and administrators can also critically develop the programs, which aim to promote the students' interests. Finally, this study will somehow help to improve the qualified graduates because students are motivated and the results in their study are satisfied.

Definition of Key Terms

Language learning motivation it an activities or tools which motivate or sometime force oneself to learn language to ensure the particular purpose in the future. According to Schmidt, Boraie, and Kassabgy (1996) learning motivation plays a very important role for language program designer and administrators, who intend to develop their language program combining with the students' needs and interests, for language teachers who would like to use pedagogical techniques to stimulate students' motivation, and for learner themselves who strive to maintain their internal motivation to achieve the success in language learning.

Mike (2010) mentions in his article that undergraduate students are those students who pursue degrees that take place after completing high school and have 2-year associate degree and 4-year bachelor degrees. However, Undergraduate students in this study refer to the junior and senior students who are currently studying in English department, Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Proposed Chapter Organization

The outline of this research study will be divided into five chapters. One chapter of the study will tell about the background information of higher education system in Cambodia. Then the second chapter tends to focus about the review of the literatures that relevant to the field of this study. The third chapter will be about the methodology of this study which consists of research design, tool for data gathering, sample, data collection, plan for data analyzing, researcher's bio, ethical consideration, and Strength and Limitation. Moreover, the fourth chapter is about the findings of the study. Finally, the fifth chapter is about conclusion and recommendation, follow by references and appendices.



The study about foreign Language motivation in private EFL course in Egypt shows the reasons why thousand of adults enroll in the private course which they have to pay the fee where the public school is free of charge (Schmidt, Boraie, & Kassabgy, 1996). This study tends to find out what students' learning motivation contributing to their determination in participating in one particular course; therefore, for this reason the study context is similar to the research topic that is being studied. Schmidt, Boraie, and Kassabgy (2006) reveal their findings by showing the strong agreement of the EFL learners in their language preference. In addition, the learning style of Egyptian students who are committed to learn English confidently, contrasted with the Japanese students who are the excellent learner but never express themselves socially. The result also based on three factor analysis and they are motivation analysis, factor analysis of instructional preference, and factor analysis of learning strategies. For the discussion of the study, the authors have made the comparison with other studies about the success and failure in language learning motivation.

Niles (1995) discusses about the cultural differences in learning motivation and strategies between Asian students and Australian Students. Cultural differences play a crucial role in influencing the learner motivation according to Niles (1995). He has conducted this research by choosing the two groups participants, one is the Australian students and another is Asian Students who study at the same university. Niles used the study process questionnaire (SPQ) as a tool to collect the data. The result of his study reveals that Asian student have higher learning motivation than Australian students, and they also uses variety of the strategies to reach the achievement. Cultural differences have contributed to differences in learning motivations and strategies in academic achievement.

Noels, Clément, and Pelletier (1993) discusses about the difficulty in L2 learner and their perception on their teachers' communication style, particularly the teachers' support in students' learning process which relate to students' extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. According to the journal, two classes of the goals were discuss: (a) integrative or a desire to learn the L2 in order to interact and identify with members from the L2 community; and (b) the instrumental orientation, which refers to a desire to learn the L2 to achieve some practical goal. This study describes the self-determination theory which is closely related to the intrinsic motivation whereas the extrinsic motivation is not closely related to self-determination because in self-determination learners are intrinsically motivated to do something and it is voluntarily performed. The result of this is divided into two categories :( 1) Correlations between Motivational Subtypes and Emotional, Motivational, and Competence Variables, (2) Correlations between Motivational Subtypes, and Perceptions of the Teacher and of the Environment as Controlling.

Ryan and Deci (2000) defines intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in the classic and new direction. These authors tend to make the distinction between the two types of motivations and then a model of different types of extrinsic motivation. The study mentions that different people have different amount and level of motivations. Intrinsic motivation is defined as "the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence. When intrinsically motivated a person is moved to act for the fun or challenge entailed rather than because of external prods, pressures, or rewards" (Ryan & Edward, 2000). Intrinsic motivation was operationally defined base on two frequent-uses measures. One of it is called "free choice" and other one is "task specific". Extrinsic motivation was categorized into four different types: External Regulation, Introjections, Identification, and Integration.

Ames and Archer (1988) examines the motivational process are related to the achievement and performance goals in actual classroom settings. the participants of this are the high school students who were randomly selected to respond to the questionnaire which attempt to get the respond on their perception of classroom goal orientation, use of effective learning strategies, task choice, attitude, and casual attribution. This study was conducted using two kinds of analyses: Correlation and Regression analyses, and also made the group comparisons between students who viewed their class as having both high mastery and high performance goal orientations and those with high mastery and low performance. The result of this study showed the mastery of performance goal provides a meaningful way to differentiate students' perceptions of classroom learning environment.



Research Design

Since this study tends to deal with the perception of the undergraduates, qualitative research will be used. Semi-structured interview will be used as a major tool to collect data. The target participants will be the undergraduate students, senior or junior students, who are presently studying at the Department of English, Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Tool for Data gathering

As already mentioned that this research is qualitative study, the interview will be conducted as the tool to collect data from the target group. Before the actual interview, the interview guide has been designed to help guarantee the smoothness of the interview with the prepared questions and follow by detail questions to deeply understand the concept of each participant.


Fifteen participants from Royal University of Phnom Penh in English Department will be selected as sample size. All of them are undergraduate students who are currently studying in Royal University of Phnom Penh. Each of them will be asked for a permission to be interviewed. Before the interview, the participants will be each given a consent form in advance to read and make agreement. The reason to do this is to protect their confidentiality and to avoid confusion as well as to ensure the reliability of data during the interview process.

Data Collection

With the specific set of questions, the semi-structured interview will make the interview process become easier. The conversation will be recorded during the interview. This need to ask the permission from the participant and the recorded information will be confidentially kept. Using recorded data collection is very useful because it can ensure the originality of the data. The recorded interview will be transcribed for data analysis.

Plan for Data Analyzing

In this research, interview is used as an instrument to collect data. After the interview is done with each of the participants, the data will be analyzed using manual coding. The Data are carefully transcribed and then categorized into important themes, which can make it easier to interpret later.

Researcher's bio

I am Cambodian. I was born and have lived in Phnom Penh city for about 26 years. I work as an English teacher both in public and private schools. I finished my general education and then got a bachelor degree in English education majoring in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the Institute of Foreign Languages, University of Phnom Penh in 2008. I had been a Secondary school teacher for 4 years. After graduated from the University of Phnom Penh, I have taken an exam to be a high school teacher. Fortunately, I passed and was sent to work in Kompongspu province since late 2009.

Since my work is related to education, I have decided to pursue my education at the Royal University of Phnom Penh in Master of Education. In order to gain the degree here, all the candidates in the program must conduct a research based on their area of interest. Thesis will be the final round and they must successfully defend their theses. Therefore, I decided to conduct a research aiming to know about the students' perceptions on their language learning motivation, and the findings of this study will be based on my combination of my research and observation.

Ethical Consideration

Before the questionnaires are delivered to participants, consent forms are given to them; therefore, participants are allowed to reject not to answers the questions if they do not like. It is voluntary and kept confidentially. Attached with the questionnaire, is the brief description about the study. It will tell about the nature and significance of the study and how it will contribute the society. When the participants have a broad picture of the study, they will make the decision to participate or not.

Strength and Limitation

Since this study is conducted based on the perception of the fifteen students in English Department of Royal university of Phnom Penh, therefore the result is limited. However, it also helps to provide some perspectives over students' perception on learning motivation for other relevant research.