A Study of University Teachers' Leadership Style and Students' Motivation in Taiwan Foreign Language Education

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dorothy H. Ettling


Judith E. Beauford


Jessica C. Kimmel


Absael Antelo


This study explored the relationship between teachers’ leadership style and students’ motivation in second foreign language education at colleges and universities of southern Taiwan. Since Taiwan became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2002, foreign language learning has been greatly emphasized in higher education because of the increasing opportunities for global connection. Both traditional and skill-orientated educational institutions in Taiwan’s higher education make efforts to enhance students’ foreign language ability with various learning projects. In addition to English, the other foreign languages (Japanese, French, Spanish, German) are offered at colleges and universities as second foreign languages. A quantitative research approach was applied for this study with two instruments—the Chinese version of Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire 5X Short (Lin, 2003) and the Chinese version of mini-Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (Gardner & MacIntyre, 1993a). The researcher adopted a random cluster sampling method to determine the participants for this study. There were 32 teachers and 765 students from elementary second foreign language courses (Japanese, French, Spanish, German) in 15 schools participating in this study. The results indicated a correlation between teachers’ leadership and students’ motivation for learning a second foreign language in Taiwan higher education. A perception gap was found between teachers and students toward teachers’ leadership behavior and outcomes. The teachers reported higher transformational leadership and leadership outcomes than their students. In the three leadership styles —transformational leadership, transactional leadership, and laissez-faire leadership— perceived transactional leadership was reported with the highest scores by students. Based on the data obtained from students’ responses to the MLQ-5X Short, significant differences were found in perceived teachers’ leadership styles and the MLQ factors among students’ demographic groups. Female students reported stronger transformational leadership of teachers than did male students. Freshmen reported stronger transformational leadership of teachers than did senior students. In addition, the results showed high motivation levels for students learning a second foreign language. The significant differences were found among students’ demographic groups in the attitudes toward the learning situation and instrumental orientation. For attitudes toward the learning situation, senior students reported the highest scores while freshmen reported the lowest. Students in Japanese courses reported the highest scores for instrumental orientation among the foreign language courses.

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