Significant Factors in College Students' Motivation and Learning Strategies in English Courses in Taiwan

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Nancy Robbins


Judith E. Beauford


Francis Musa Boakari


M. Sharon Herbers


The purpose of this study was to investigate what factors were significant in students’ motivation and identify effective learning strategies used while participating in English courses at one private university in southern Taiwan. A mixed methodology was developed for the purpose of this research. In the quantitative phase, the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) was utilized to survey 1,300 students who participated in English courses at one private university in southern Taiwan. 1,280 surveys were returned (98.46%), of which 1,254 were valid (96.46%). The quantitative data analysis included frequencies, percentages, mean scores, Pearson product-moment correlation, independent-samples t-tests, and one-way ANOVAs with post hoc tests by using SPSS 13.0 for Windows with the significant level of .05. In the qualitative phase, the researcher probed further by interviewing 7 students. They were identified as successful learners based on the last demographic item which indicated they passed the school’s English graduation requirement. The qualitative data findings resulted from the observations and dialogic interviews with the participants. The quantitative results showed a correlation between students’ motivation and learning strategies. In particular, self-efficacy for learning and performance and metacognitive self-regulation had the most significant relationship (r= .683). Additionally, significant differences were found in students’ motivational orientations and learning strategies in relation to the demographic groups. Notably, studying time was the most determinant demographic variable to affect students’ motivation and learning strategies while they participated in English courses. The more time students spent studying English, the more motivation they had and the more learning strategies they used to study English. The researcher integrated the qualitative data and presented 16 themes which were predetermined by the interview protocol. The qualitative findings supported the quantitative results and indicated that students with higher self-efficacy for learning and performance were motivated to learn English intrinsically. They also perceived more importance of English and used more cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies to regulate and assist their learning. The qualitative findings further showed that English teachers played a crucial role in affecting students’ motivation and learning strategies to learn English.

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