The Concepts And Theories Of Motivation Education Essay

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The concepts and theories of motivation and achievement, and attainment goals have been studied and developed by many researchers over a number of decades. Day and Bamford (1998) defined motivation as a power to inspire or encourage people to do or not do something. Regarding a foreign or second language (L2) extensive reading, they have created their models of reading in four features: reading materials, ability, attitudes, and classroom environment in which both appropriate reading materials and attitudes illustrated more significant role in motivating students rather than reading ability and classroom conditions. However, there is a lack of studies to prove clearly about this model whether there is a link between the first language (L1) and the second language (L2) and achievement goals which required further investigation.

Similarly, motivation (Gardner, 1985) described as an important issue in ESL learning and furthermore, motivation is the mixture of attempt and aspiration to accomplish the ambition of language learning and positive characteristics to knowledge. Ryan and Deci (2000) identify motivation as in relation to power, direction, determination, activation and intention.

Based on several studies on the concepts of motivation (e.g., Guthrie, Hoa, Wigfield, Tonks, Humenick, & Littles, 2007; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2003), there are two kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation (internal factor) is an innate pattern of behavior towards a certain thing out of pleasure, interest, and enjoyment. Extrinsic motivation (external factor) refers to activity movement towards the outcomes or rewards such as passing an exam, getting good grades, certificate of admiration, materials, career opportunities, jobs, money, and getting higher status in the society. Students find these things significant in studying or engaging in the classroom activities. The result of findings of studies showed the positive connection between student's motivation and achievement (The correlation between student's motivation and academic achieve is also certainly illustrated in learning English as a second language (Masgoret & Gardner, 2003).

Students enrolling in English class may have different kinds of goalsaims or purposes to achieve one precise intention while others have no clear goal. Understanding theories of student motivation can be very useful when working in an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom. The theory can influence all features of language learning such as reading strategy, language proficiency and interaction with native speakers of target language (Krashen, 1993; Oxford & Shearin, 1994). Thus, to help a learner learn, teacher has a responsibility to ensure a kind of encouraging learning environment.

A number of researchers have claimed that goal effectiveness depends on reasons or motives for pushing toward that goal (e.g., Deci & Ryan 2000; Heyman & Dweck 1992; Sansone & Harackiewicz 2000; Sheldon & Eliot 1998, 1999). In contrast, Gintis, Kedar-Voivodas, and LeCompte (cited in Wentzel, 1989) discovered that a teacher's competence and task performance does not always predict the students' accomplishment. Likewise Lambert and Safer (cited in Wentzel, 1991) showed the predictors for grade retention, placement in special education classes, and dropping out, independent of intellectual ability. Therefore, students academic victory may come from multiple goals which are connected to the social requirements of the classroom and task performance.

This research will focus on goal setting versus unclear goal setting and whether it has an effect on ESL students task performance outcomes.

Statement of the Problem

The school environment is consider to be very important in motivating students to learn and improve their abilities. Several empirical studies found a high correlation between student grades and school environment; however, many young students have not had opportunity to be exposed to this condition. Students give little attention to their study (talking with others during lectures, eating and talking during the class, etc.) has been reported to perform poorly or cheat in their exam (Anderman, 2002, Kaplan et al., 2002a, Roeser & Eccles, 1998). Moreover, Grant and Dweck (cited in Meece, Anderman, and Anderman, 2006) illustrated that mastery goals really proved a positive achievement or result in dealing with challenging tasks. They suggested teachers aim to facilitate mastery goal of concepts and content in their classroom activities. A mastery goal defines as the aspiration to develop one particular skill as example like this semester I have decided that I want to improve my understanding as much as I can about Foundation of Education. Mastery goal is considered to enhance a student's intrinsic motivation (Ames & Archer, 1988).

There is no prior research on the concept of the relationship between goal setting and unclear goal setting whether it has an effect on the academic progression of students studying ESL in institution X. This research topic will be helpful for those who are interested in discovering the effect of students' achievement in studying ESL in the future.

Significance of the Study

Because there is little literature about this study in the Cambodian context, this study will offer some contributions to English language learning and teaching fields in Cambodia. Furthermore, it will help instructors of ESL to select the right strategy or method to apply in their teaching performance and getting to identify what role they have to play in facilitating as well as assisting ESL learners' inspiration. That will help to increase the understanding of this topic area. Various techniques will motivate students to learn English more effectively and successfully. Finally, this study will assist researchers who are interested in this study.

Research Question

Does goals setting versus unclear goals have an effect on the academic performance of students studying ESL in institution X in level 6?

Chapter Two

Literature Review


To write this chapter, I went through a few steps. Firstly, I searched several websites such as googlescholar, google,, eric,,, asianjournal, asianefljournal,, wiley online library, and so on. Furthermore, I have read some parts of journal articles I got from my professors in Royal University of Phnom Penh the previous term, some e-books and hard-books from other professors in the same university, and also my existing e-books, and hard-books.

A number of keywords were used to locate relevant literature: attitude and motivation or behavior, goals, mastery goals and motivation, goals setting and academic achievement or outcome, students motivation, names of well-known authors related to this topic area, motivation of ESL learning, L2 motivation, motivation in language learning, and some links from reference pages in some articles.

This chapter is divided into three sections. The first section will explore the relationship between attitude, motivation, and ESL learning. The second section will review literature that discussed the relationship between goals setting and academic achievement in ESL learning. Finally, the last section will investigate the correlation between unclear goal setting and academic outcome of ESL learning.

Concept of Attitude and Motivation

Spending about 12 years conducting a significant study of motivation in second language learning in a few countries such as Canada, several parts of the United States, and the Philippines, Robert Gardner and Wallace Lambert (1972), explored how attitude and motivation affect the success of language learning. Evidence was also identified toward proficiency as well. Attitude refers to someone's feeling, thinking towards something or someone before behaving. Dörnyei (2010) believed that the success of individual learners is different based on their attitude towards different subjects. Each subject has its code of learning and attitude has been found to achievement. Moreover, various aspects of motivation also contribute towards the students' academic attainment. In addition, "affective variables such as attitudes influence language learning" (Gardner, Masgoret, Tennant & Mihic, 2004). Karahan (2007) clarified that "positive language attitudes let learner has positive orientation towards learning English" (p.84). Krashen (1997) claimed that context is correlated with attitude towards language learning.

Gardner and Lambert (1972) for instant added that motivation has divided into sections; integrative, and instrumental motivation. Instrumental motivation is the interest that one person concentrate on in order to achieve particular goals such as getting high job opportunities, passing an exam, etc. On the other hand, integrative motivation focuses on the interest that one person learn in order to use it for communication and exchanging understanding of its culture. The term motivation is simple and easy to understand; however, it is hard to define for many empirical research studies in the past.

Motivation in learning English as a Second Language (ESL)

Students learn in order to complete the tasks, to challenge with others, and to get careers, they are in the group of instrumental motivation (Dornyei, 1990; Gardner, 1985) or to make friends with who speak the language (Oxford & Shearin, 1994). Noticeably, instrumental reason really pushes student a better achievement in learning ESL. In contrast with the studies in the 19th century found that integrative motivation is not very effective in language learning (Gardner, 1988; Gardner & McIntyre, 1991; Au, 1988). Furthermore, other aspects of motivation such as desire for knowledge, a new challenge, need for achievement (Dornyei, 1990) also contributed the student's achievement.

Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivation

Based on the self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; 1995), motivation is divided into two: intrinsic motivation, interested in activity from innate individual called internal function, and extrinsic motivation occurs when students desire to achieve rewards called external function. Ryan and Deci (1985) believe that intrinsic motivation is a foundation for individual competence and self-determination. By seeking the interest to challenges is a good process to develop one's competence in their capacities. Among the four macro skills of learning ESL, three were found success, speaking, listening and reading, to accomplish their capacities of understanding. Furthermore, they assumed that tangible rewards as in external function also offer learners' great opportunities for success and enhancing internal function.

Several studies have revealed affirmative correlations between intrinsic motivation and academic success (Gottfried, 1985, 1990; Harter & Connell, 1984; Henderlong & Lepper, 1997; Lloyd & Barenblatt, 1984), signifying a decrease in achievement may come from intrinsic motivation. It is definitely not surprising that children intrinsic and extrinsic motivation might perform better in school to the degree that they search for challenges, and are inquisitive in their learning, and aspiration to master tasks. Therefore, it was a affirmative association between intrinsic inspiration and academic results.

However, students external results may also be from the aspiration to focus on objects indicating performance. Actually, recent pilot studies carried out with university-learner populations has illustrated that physically powerful performance goals in external stimulation can anticipate constructive attainment results (Barron & Harackiewicz, 2001; Elliot & McGregor, 2001; Harackiewicz, Barron, Pintrich, Elliot, & Thrash, 2002). In contrast, this may be less realistic for primary and secondary education populations (Midgley, Kaplan, & Middleton, 2001), revealed in goals performance connection study with declined cognitive commitment (Meece, Blumenfeld, & Hoyle, 1988), about capability rather than attempt (Ames & Archer, 1988), self-handicapping (Midgley & Urdan, 2001), and difficulty avoidance (Dweck, 1999).

The Relationship between Individual Goals towards Achievement

The achievement of an individual come from one's action set in the varieties of inspirational goals (Elliot & Dweck, 1988). When the students believe they had low value on the goals progression, the responses were ineffective and lead to negative results. Despite their capacity to learn, they tried to find the successful methods to defeat those barriers.

Another interesting finding was that when children thought of their high current expertise, they reacted in the way of mastery-direction to overcome all mistakes. The children kept seeking for the resolutions and did not lead to negative outcome. However, when children thought of low current expertise, the performance-goal with high recognized skill of the children reached the chances to increase their competences on a task that involved mistakes.

Nevertheless, when it was salient in the value of the children's learning goal, it was impossible to conclude their progression effect on their current competences whether they acquired high or low competences. Regardless of their beliefs about the current competences

in the mastery-direction, it became more complicated to pass the chances to learn new skills.

The important limitation of this pilot study was that there were not many researchers showed the positive correlation between mastery goals and academic progression. There were no results found in the pilot study of several researchers (e.g. Barron & Harackiewicz, 2002, Elliot & Church, 1997, Harackiewicz et al. 2000, Herman et al. 2005, Miller et al. 1996, Pintrich, 2000, Skaalvik, 1997).

Chapter Three

Research Methods

This chapter will provide the descriptions of four basic elements which mainly focus on the research design, the sample size and sampling technique, the data collection tool, and the data collection process to conduct an empirical research study. It will include a discussion of the ethical issues at the end.

Research Design

In this research design, the researcher will employ the mixture of methods approaches qualitative and quantitative methods in order to response the research question. Questionnaire and observation survey will be carried out in order to achieve suitable information. This is a kind of a case study in one institution in Phnom Penh.

Data Collection Methods

Sample Size and Sampling Technique.

Because it is hardly realistic, proficient or ethical to study the whole population, selecting a sample number is significant in any research study. The purpose of choosing sample size is to make the findings of study represent and generalize the whole populations. The suitable sample size for a research area is one that sufficiently responds to the research question.

Furthermore, a diversity of sampling techniques might be required in collecting the data. In this research study, the researcher will select the convenience sample of 70 students in level seven among the twelve levels in part-time and full-time class to answer in the questionnaires. This research will conduct in the form of purposeful sampling. According to Patton (1990), the reasonable and influence of purposeful sampling lies in selecting resourceful information cases for pilot study in depth. Resourceful information cases are those from which one can discover an enormous deal about subject matters of vital significance to the principle of the research study. It is the most reachable technique which is the least costly to the researcher regarding time, effort and money. Additionally, the research will also spend at least 3 weeks observing the real students performance in the classroom and check the study survey which will be prepared in advance.

Data Collection Tools


Questionnaire is the first instrument in collecting the data of this research study. According to Kidder and Judd (1986), questionnaire is considered as one of the most common and appropriate tools in doing quantitative and qualitative research. Furthermore, the questionnaire helps the researcher to save time and get more responsive answers in terms of anonymity. This will encourage the participants to feel free to share their honest answers to the questions. Another advantage of questionnaire is that it is a suitable tool in collecting a large number of students (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2007). On the other hand, by choosing questionnaire to collect data, the researcher spend a lot of time to pilot and refine each item and this may be insufficient in the flexibility of response (Wilson & Mclean, 1994).


Marshall and Rossman (1989) define observation as an organized explanation of experiences, performances, and artifacts in the communal situation selected to study. Observation involves in the structure of vigorous looking, improving remembrance, casual interviewing, writing detailed fields, and endurance (DeMunck & Sobo, 1998). Participant observation is also the procedure which allow administrators to learn about the natural human activities during observing and participating in those movements. It presents the context for improvement of sampling principles and interview channels (DeWALT & DeWALT, 2002). SCHENSUL, SCHENSUL, and LeCOMPTE (1999) describe participant observation as the daily learning process through exposure or getting involvement in the regular activities.

DeWALT and DeWALT (2002) further explain that the purpose of selecting participant observation is to build up a holistic comprehension of the phenomenon that is as

aim and precise as possible provided the limitations of the technique. They propose that

participant observation is a method to amplify the validity of the study, and observations may possibly contribute a better awareness of the situation and event under study to the researcher.

Participant observation can be employed to answer descriptive research questions, to develop, create or test hypotheses.

Based on Demunch and Sobo (1998), some advantages of utilizing observation method is to get access to the offstage culture, offer richly detailed explanation, which they suppose to mean that a person's aspire of portraying performances, purposes, circumstances, and situations as understood by one's informants and it provides great chances to view or participate in unscheduled occurrences. DeWALT and DeWALT (2002) add that observation develops the quality of data gathering and understanding and assists the improvement of new research questions or hypotheses.

JOHNSON and SACKETT (1998) argue that participant observation is a kind of

mistaken explanation in behavioral investigation. They state that the data collected by

anthropologists may not correspond to the culture, as much of the information collected by the administrator is relied on that investigator's personal curiosity in a setting or performance, rather than being a representative ethnicity of what actually is. They also suggest systematic observation processes to integrate accurate practices for sampling and recording performance that keep administrators from abandoning particular ethnicity characteristics. Their portrait of observation structure is to select who, when, where, and what to be observed, and how the observations are recorded, offering a more quantitative remark than applicant study.

A number of commissioners have established the limitations of inspections as an instrument for data collection. DeWALT and DeWALT (2002) clarify that regarding the difference of gender of commissioners, the data collected is varied, when they approach different applicants, locations, and knowledge frameworks. For this reason, the information can be bias, or be subjective rather than objective. The commissioner must identify how his/her gender, sexuality, background, rank, and theoretical approach may lead to scrutiny, breakdown, and inappropriate explanation or interpretation.

Data Collection Process

The sample of the pilot study can be chosen in terms of random or nonrandom. In the random sampling, every participant has equal chance to be recruited in this research study. On the other contrary, nonrandom sampling is the selection of convenient applicants which is called quasi-experiment. The commissioners must guarantee that the number of study sample will represent the whole population (Keppel, 1999).

First of all, the administrator will ask for consent from the director and instructor of the Cambodian Youth's Future Institute, to make sure that the participants will have enough time, get stimulated and comfortable to answer the questionnaire without any destruction. All the questions will be translated into Khmer to facilitate participants to be easier to provide the appropriate responses. Besides, both administrator and instructor will be friendly and helpful to assist students with the instructions or sentences.

The administrator will decide on the number of sample purposefully, not randomly. The process of selecting the participants is in terms of sex, age, and study shift. 70 participants studying ESL in level 6 both part-time and full-time class in the Cambodian Youth's Future Institute will be recruited to answer all the items in the questionnaires. These participants will be given around 20 to 30 minutes to answer all the questions.

Whyte (1979) clarified that the best way of conducting participants observation is to build a strong and friendly association of the administrator with applicants as great cooperation and collaboration. For instant, the investigator will spend at least 3 weeks to observe the students performance silently and check the daily checklist to see how they develop their capacity of understanding in the language classroom.

Ethical Issues

The researcher will choose voluntary applicants to participate in this study. That

means those applicants will be enthusiastic to contribute their time without being coerced or compensated to do it. Regarding the permission, the researcher will ask for consent from them by attaching an agreement paper with a short description of the purposes and procedures of conducting this research study with the questionnaire paper. Furthermore, the researcher will guarantee no harm for participants. The questionnaires will be accomplished in a convenient time and location. Participants will be allowed to complete the questionnaire anywhere they feel comfortable like at home, at the school, at the coffee shop, or at other places and the researcher will ensure that their answers will be kept anonymously and confidentially. The researcher will be friendly and keen to assist any doubts the applicants may come across in answering all items in the questionnaire (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998).