Scholarly article on topic 'The Relationship between Students’ Academic Self-efficacy and Language Learning Motivation: A Study of 8th Graders'

The Relationship between Students’ Academic Self-efficacy and Language Learning Motivation: A Study of 8th Graders Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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{Self-efficacy / "language learning motivation" / orientation / "8th graders"}

Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Ceylan Yangın Ersanlı

Abstract Self-efficacy is defined as the belief in one's capabilities to carry out, organize and perform a task successfully. Motivation consists of the internal and external factors that stimulate the desire to attain a goal. Both are the driving forces that make people pursue a goal and overcome obstacles because people with higher self-efficacy and motivation do their best and do not easily give up when confronted with difficulties. This quantitative study aims to investigate the relationship between the academic self-efficacy levels and language learning motivations of 8th graders. In Turkey, the 8th grade is important as it is the year when the students take exams that determine the high school they are to enroll. Therefore, it is a year when academic concerns are high. To this end, Morgan-Jinks Student Efficacy Scale and Language Learning Orientations Scale by Noels et al. were applied to 257 participants from several different secondary schools. It was found that there is a low-level negative correlation between English language learning motivation and self-efficacy beliefs of students in Grade 8. The results are also evaluated in terms of demographic features of the participants such as their gender and parental education level. It revealed that language learning motivations of the students show a significant difference that favors girls. However, there is no statistically significant difference in the students’ academic self-efficacy beliefs in terms of gender. The results about language learning motivations of the students in terms of the education level of the parents indicate a significant difference in students whose parents are more educated with those of less educated. On the contrary, the students whose parents are university graduates have the lowest means whereas those whose parents are primary school and secondary school graduates have much higher self-efficacy.

Academic research paper on topic "The Relationship between Students’ Academic Self-efficacy and Language Learning Motivation: A Study of 8th Graders"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 199 (2015) 472 - 478

GlobELT: An International Conference on Teaching and Learning English as an Additional

Language, Antalya - Turkey

The relationship between students' academic self-efficacy and language learning motivation: A study of 8th graders

Ceylan Yangin Ersanlia*

_aFaculty of Education, Ondokuz Mayis University, 55139, Turkey_

Abstract

Self-efficacy is defined as the belief in one's capabilities to carry out, organize and perform a task successfully. Motivation consists of the internal and external factors that stimulate the desire to attain a goal. Both are the driving forces that make people pursue a goal and overcome obstacles because people with higher self-efficacy and motivation do their best and do not easily give up when confronted with difficulties. This quantitative study aims to investigate the relationship between the academic self-efficacy levels and language learning motivations of 8th graders. In Turkey, the 8th grade is important as it is the year when the students take exams that determine the high school they are to enroll. Therefore, it is a year when academic concerns are high. To this end, Morgan-Jinks Student Efficacy Scale and Language Learning Orientations Scale by Noels et al. were applied to 257 participants from several different secondary schools. It was found that there is a low-level negative correlation between English language learning motivation and self-efficacy beliefs of students in Grade 8. The results are also evaluated in terms of demographic features of the participants such as their gender and parental education level. It revealed that language learning motivations of the students show a significant difference that favors girls. However, there is no statistically significant difference in the students' academic self-efficacy beliefs in terms of gender. The results about language learning motivations of the students in terms of the education level of the parents indicate a significant difference in students whose parents are more educated with those of less educated. On the contrary, the students whose parents are university graduates have the lowest means whereas those whose parents are primary school and secondary school graduates have much higher self-efficacy.

© 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Hacettepe Universitesi.

Keywords: Self-efficacy; language learning motivation; orientation; 8th graders

* Corresponding author. E-mail address: ceylanyangin@gmail.com

1877-0428 © 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Hacettepe Universitesi.

doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.07.534

1. Introduction

Why some students are more involved and motivated to learn a foreign language than those who are disengaged and who can easily lose their interest although they share the same learning environment and similar cognitive abilities has always been a concern for teachers. It is very difficult to find a proper, single answer to this question; however, it can be claimed that success in learning a foreign language is determined by many factors among which self-efficacy beliefs and motivation levels of the students play prior roles.

Pajares and Valiante (1997: 353) suggested that "the beliefs that students develop about their academic capabilities help determine what they do with the knowledge and skills they possess". According to them, this helps explain why students' academic outcomes may differ markedly even though they have similar ability. The term 'self-efficacy beliefs' is defined by Bandura & Schunk (1981: 31) as "people's judgement of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performances". Self-efficacy is mainly a cognitive self-concept of an individual concerning his perceived capabilities in a given task. It is worthwhile to note that self-efficacy is task-specific. It means that individuals' prior experiences with the tasks help them identify their level of self-efficacies. Researchers agree on the idea that individuals who perceive themselves capable on a given task will probably engage more than when they do not feel themselves competent enough (Pajares, 1996; Jackson, 2002; Ching, 2002; Margolis & McCabe, 2003). Therefore, higher levels of self-efficacy will lead to students' persistence on tasks to overcome difficulties.

The other equally prominent determiner of success in learning a foreign language is motivation. Motivation is an inner drive which, as Dornyei (1998) says, "...energizes and directs human behavior". There is a consensus on the belief that learners' self-efficacy beliefs have an effect on their goals and motivational factors (Bandura, 1993; Pajares & Vakliante 1997; Yang, 1999; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2003). More specifically, the study of Cain and Dweck (1995) supports the relation between motivational patterns and beliefs about ability and achievement (self-efficacy) in elementary school children. Another study conducted by Zimmerman & Kitsantas (1997) suggests that increased self-efficacy is accompanied by enhanced intrinsic motivation (cited in Bong & Clark, 1999: 151). Similarly, self-efficacy beliefs and intrinsic values are found to be positively related in a study conducted by Pintrich and De Groot (1990).

The ideas presented so far and the findings of the research into learners' beliefs about self-efficacy and motivation might help language teachers gain a better understanding of the reasons underlying their students' different academic outcomes and thus may help them find ways to enhance appropriate instructional designs. Hence, the relationship between the academic self-efficacy levels and language learning motivations of students appears to be a significant variable in foreign language classrooms.

For this purpose, the following questions are addressed in the current research:

1. Is there a significant relationship between language learning motivation and academic self-efficacy of Grade 8 students?

2. Do language learning motivations of the students differ significantly with respect to gender, and education levels of the parents?

3. Do academic self-efficacy beliefs of the students differ significantly with respect to gender, and education levels of the parents?

2. Method

This descriptive study yields quantitative data by examining a possible correlation between the academic self-efficacy levels and language learning motivations of Grade 8 students and also evaluates the results in terms of demographic features of the participants such as their gender, and parental education level. The statistical processing of the study is done by using an SPSS packet program. The correlation between English language learning motivation and self-efficacy beliefs of students is analyzed by Pearson Correlation Coefficient. The language learning motivations and academic self-efficacy beliefs of the students with respect to gender is analyzed by t-tests. The effects of parents' education levels on students' language learning motivations and self-efficacy beliefs are analyzed by the ANOVA test.

2.1. Participants

A total of 257 (142 female and115 male) students participated into the study. The students are at Grade 8 in three primary schools in Turkey. In 2013 the Ministry of National Education in Turkey asserted that students in Grade 8 should take a National exam called "Transition from primary education to secondary education" to place into a secondary school. Therefore, it is believed that the academic concerns and expectations of the students might be the highest in this grade.

2.2. Data collection tools

In order to collect information on academic self-efficacies of Grade 8 students the adapted version of 'Children's Perceived Academic Self-Efficacy Scale' by Morgan and Jinks (1999) is used. The validity and reliability studies of the adapted version are done by Oncu (2012). There are 21 items in the scale. All the items are designed using a four-interval scale of really agree, kind of agree, kind of disagree, and really disagree. The other data collection tool is 'Language Learning Orientation Scale' developed first by Noels et. al. (2000), and later expanded and adapted by Mcintosh and Noels (2004). The scale is adapted to Turkish to ensure its validity and reliabilty by §ad and Gurbuzturk (2009). There are 24 items in the scale and students give their responses on a 7-point Likert scale from totally agree to tatally disagree.

3. Findings

The findings will be presented in response to research questions: 1. Is there a significant relationship between language learning motivation and academic self-efficacy of Grade 8 students?

Table 1. The relationship between language learning motivation and academic self-efficacy of students in Grade 8.

variables N X Sd R P

Language learning motivation 257 105.1902 24.99773 -.149 .017

Academic self-efficacy 257 50.2697 7.32912

Table 1 illustrates a low-level negative correlation between English language learning motivation and self-efficacy beliefs of students in Grade 8 (r=-.149, p<.05). This could be interpreted as the self-efficacy of the students decreases while their motivation to learn English increases.

2. Do language learning motivations of the students differ significantly with respect to gender, and education levels of the parents?

The normality tests (k-s/ s-w) indicate normal distribution in terms of gender and education levels of the parents. Table 2. Language learning motivation in relation to gender

Language learning motivation Gender NX S sd t p

Female 142 109.6413 24.01252 238.879 3.213 .001

Male 115 99.6942 25.19801

Independent samples t-test results in the table above suggest that language learning motivations of the students show a significant difference that favors girls (t (238.879)=3.213, p< .05).

Table 3. Language learning motivation in relation to level of education of the mother

variance Sum of squares sd Mean of squares F p

Between groups 7546.278 3 2515,426 4,175 ,007 High school -primary school

Within groups 152424.700 253 602,469

Sum 159970,977 256

Variables N X Sd

Education level of the mother primary 74 99.2508 25,70157

secondary 78 102.3171 24,47964

High school 69 112.2070 23,04449

university 36 110.1755 25,04240

The results about language learning motivations of the students in terms of the education level of the mothers indicate a significant difference (F(3-252)=4.175, p<.05) in students whose mothers are high school graduates with those of primary school graduates (means 112.2070 and 99.2508 respectively).

Table 4. Language learning motivation in relation to level of education of the father

variance Sum of squares sd Mean of squares F p

Between groups 5050,503 3 1683,501 2,749 ,043

Within groups 154920,475 253 612,334

Sum 159970,977 256

Variables N X Sd

Education level of the father primary 44 98.0253 22.53678

secondary 57 101.2982 27.38350

High school 75 107.8932 23.56963

university 81 109.3184 24.99488

There is a significant difference in language learning motivations of the students with respect to the education level of the fathers (F(3-253)=2.749, p<. 05). The means indicate that students whose fathers have a university degree have the highest mean 109.3184 whereas those whose fathers are graduates of primary school have the lowest (mean= 98.0253).

3. Do academic self-efficacy beliefs of the students differ significantly with respect to gender, and education levels of the parents?

The distribution of the variables in terms of gender, and education level of the parents are found to be normal as a result of normality tests (k-s/ s-w). Hence, the parametric independent samples t-test is used to explore self-efficacy beliefs of the students with respect to gender.

Table 5: The Self-efficacy beliefs of the students with respect to gender

Academic self-efficacy Gender N X S sd t p

Female 142 50.6891 7.65335 251,998 1.031 .304

Male 115 49.7517 6.90573

As the above table illustrates, there is no statistically significant difference in the students' academic self-efficacy beliefs in terms of gender (t (251.998) =1.031, p>.05).

Table 6: The self-efficacy beliefs of the students in terms of the education level of mothers

variance Sum of squares sd Mean of squares F P Sig.

Between groups 482,465 3 160,822 3,066 ,029 University- secondary school University- primary school

Within groups 13268,813 253 52,446

Sum 13751,278 256

variables N X Sd

Education level of the mother primary 74 51.2020 8,25596

secondary 78 51.0430 6,92395

High school 69 50.0651 6,64471

university 36 47.0698 6,75966

The ANOVA results show that self-efficacy beliefs of the students in terms of the education level of mothers show a significant difference (F(3-252)=3.066, p<.05). The post hoc results show that the difference is more significant between students whose mothers are graduates of university and secondary school and those whose mothers are university and primary school graduates. A closer look at the means shows that the students whose mothers are university graduates have the lowest means (47.0698) whereas those whose mothers are primary school and secondary school graduates have much higher self-efficacy (means 51.2020 and 51.0430 respectively).

Table 7: The self-efficacy beliefs of the students in terms of the education level of fathers

variance Sum of squares sd Mean of squares F P Sig.

Between groups 779,301 3 259,767 5,066 ,002 University- secondary school University- primary school

Within groups 12971,977 253 51,273

Sum 13751,278 256

variables N X Sd

Education level of the father primary 44 52.6413 7.91136

secondary 57 51.5965 7.26995

High school 75 50.3608 6.97505

university 81 47.9634 6.81974

The ANOVA results about self-efficacy beliefs of the students in terms of the education level of fathers point to a significant difference (F(3-253)= 5.066, p<.05). The post hoc results show that the difference is more significant between students whose fathers are graduates of university and secondary school and those whose fathers are university and primary school graduates. A closer look at the means shows that the students whose fathers are university graduates have the lowest means (47.9634) whereas those whose mothers are primary school and secondary school graduates have much higher self-efficacy (means 52.6413 and 51.5965 respectively).

4. Discussion

The results of the study suggest a low-level negative correlation between English language learning motivation and self-efficacy beliefs of students in Grade 8. This might be explained with the outcome expectations influencing motivation and predicting behavior. This term was first used by Bandura (1986). This view puts forward that students who have high levels of self-efficacy are more eager to perform in tasks when they value the anticipated outcome. However, self-efficacy beliefs and expected outcomes may not always be consistent (Pajares, 1996; Jackson, 2002). Its implications in our study might be that students with higher levels of self- efficacy may believe that they can get high scores in English or may perform well in classroom tasks. However, since they do not perceive learning a foreign language (English) very rewarding, they may not exert much effort to learn it.

As might be expected, girls have higher levels of language learning motivation when compared with those of the boys. The finding is in parallel to other research findings related to correlation of language learning motivation and gender studies (Xiong, 2010). The results about language learning motivations of the students in terms of the education level of the parents indicate that students whose parents are more educated have the highest mean whereas those whose parents are less educated have the lowest. The reason might be 'parental support which can be explained as more educated parents may be aware of the importance of knowing a foreign language for their children's education and future work careers and thus their children might have a higher motivation to learn a foreign language.

The study puts forwards that there is not a statistically significant difference in the students' academic self-efficacy beliefs in terms of gender. The findings reveal that the students whose parents are university graduates have the lowest means whereas those whose parents are primary school and secondary school graduates have much higher self-efficacy. The reason might be the high expectations and the standards the more educated parents have and set for their children. The students who are struggling to satisfy their parents' expectations might lose their self-efficacy when compared to students whose parents are graduates of primary or secondary school.

5. Conclusion and recommendation

In summary, this study provides a greater understanding of the self-efficacy beliefs and language learning motivations of Grade 8 students in Turkey as well as empirical evidence for the connections between students' self-efficacy beliefs and language learning motivations. The most significant conclusion that can be drawn from the findings of this study is that there is a low-level negative correlation between English language learning motivation and self-efficacy beliefs of students. As discussed earlier, high self-efficacy and negative outcome expectations are similarly possible. If the students are guided and informed about the advantages of learning a foreign language, their outcome judgments in relation to foreign language learning will be more positive and they might be more motivated to learn the target language, work more eagerly to overcome difficulties, take on challenging tasks and develop interest. The other significant conclusion is the effect of parental education level on students' levels of self-efficacy and language learning motivations. It is interesting that more educated parents' children have lower-levels of self-efficacy but distribute stronger motivation to learn English than those of less-educated parents. It might be beneficial to guide parents to set more realistic academic standards for their children. Since sustaining student motivation is a key ingredient for teaching a foreign language successfully it is important to inform not only students who have lower-levels of language learning motivations but also parents about the benefits of acquiring communicative competence in a foreign language.

Finally, the literature suggests that high-levels of self-efficacy would contribute to students' academic success. A further study might look into whether students who have higher-levels of self-efficacy are more successful academically when compared with those who have lower-levels of self-efficacy.

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