EFL Teachers’ Perceptions of Intermediate Learners’ Demotivation and the Strategies Used to Reduce Demotivation in an Iranian Context

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of English Language Teaching, Ahar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ahar , Iran

2 Department of English Language Teaching, Ahar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ahar, Iran

Abstract

Demotivating factors can negatively influence the learners’ attitudes in learning English language. In the present study, demotivating factors and the strategies used to reduce demotivation among Iranian EFL learners were explored through both qualitative and quantitative research methods. İn the qualitative part of the study, semi-structured interviews including two main open-ended questions were done to construct two Sources of Demotivation and Demotivation Reduction Strategies Questionnaires. Then, in the quantitative part of the study, the correlations between EFL learners’, novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions of demotivating factors and strategies learners use to reduce demotivation were explored. Forty Intermediate level EFL learners including 22 female and 18 male learners who attended the classes at Iran Language Institute (ILI) in Tehran, Iran and 200 teachers including 137 experienced teachers and 63 novice teachers who worked at different branches of Iran Language Institute (ILI) in Tehran, Iran were participated in the research project. The qualitative data were analyzed through coding and factor analysis. İn addition to 40 strategies to reduce demotivation in EFL classrooms, quality of teaching, teachers’ characteristics, classroom environment, institute’s facilities, language anxiety, and students’ characteristics were identified as the demotivating factors. Additionally, the findings showed a statistically significant correlation between EFL learners and teachers’ perception of learners’ demotivation and strategies to reduce demotivation and between experienced and novice teachers’ perception of learners’ demotivation and strategies to reduce demotivation too. It was concluded that demotivation is a multidimensional construct containing six components in Iranian context of foreign language learning.

Keywords


Article Title [Persian]

‎ درک معلمهای زبان خارجی از بی انگیزگی و راهبردهای استفاده شده برای کاهش بی انگیزگی توسط دانش اموزان سطح متوسطه در ایران

Authors [Persian]

  • فهیمه فرجامی 1
  • نادر اسدی آیدین لو 2
  • هانیه دعوتگری اصل 2
1 گروه زبان انگلیسی، دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی، شعبه اهر
2 گروه زبان انگلیسی، دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی، شعبه اهر
Abstract [Persian]

عوامل بی انگیزگی میتوانند بر نگرش زبان اموزان در یادگیری زبان انگلیسی تاثیر منفی بگذارند. در این مطالعه عوامل بی انگیزگی و استراتژیهای استفاده شده برای کاهش بی انگیزگی در میان زبان اموزان ایرانی از طریق دو روش تحقیقی کیفی و‌کمی مورد بررسی قرار گرفت.  در بخش کیفی ، مصاحبه نیمه ساختاری شامل دو سوال باز اصلی  برای ایجاد منابع به جهت تهیه  پرسشنامه  بی انگیزگی و استراتژیهای کاهش بی انگیزگی  انجام گرفت. سپس در   بخش کمی این تحقیق، رابطه بین   زبان اموزان ، معلمان کم تجربه و با تجربه از نظر برداشت انها نسبت به عوامل بی انگیزگی و استراتژیهای کاهش بی انگیزگی  مورد بررسی قرار گرفت. ۴۰ زبان اموز ایرانی متشکل از ۲۲ خانم و ۱۸ اقا که در کلاسهای موسسه زبان ایران در تهران شرکت میکردند ونیز ۲۰۰ معلم شامل ۱۳۷ تا با تجربه و ۶۳ تا کم تجربه که در شعب مختلف موسسه زبان ایران  در تهران مشغول به کار بودند، در این تحقیق شرکت کردند.داده های کیفی با کد گذاری و فاکتور انالیز بررسی شد. در نهایت علاوه بر  ۴۰ تا استراتژی کاهش بی انگیزگی در کلاس ، کیفیت تدریس، ویژگیهای معلم ، محیط کلاس درس، امکانات موسسه، نگرانی دانش اموز از یادگیری زبان و ویژگیهای دانش اموز به عنوان عوامل ایجاد بی انگیزگی در کلاس شناخته شد. علاوه بر این، نتایج به دست امده نشان داد که به لحاظ اماری رابطه ی مثبت مهمی از نظر درک معلمان از عوامل بی انگیزگی و استراتژیهای کاهش بی انگیزگی توسط زبان اموزان  بین انها و‌معلمان و‌نیز بین معلمان با تجربه و‌کم تجربه وجود دارد. نتیجه اینکه بی انگیزگی در ایران ساختاری چند بعدی دارد متشکل از ۶ بعد دارد.
 

Keywords [Persian]

  • بی انگیزگی
  • عوامل بی انگیزگی
  • استراتژیهای کاهش بی انگیزگی
  • معلمان زبان خارجی و بافت یادگیری زبان خارجی

EFL Teachers’ Perceptions of Intermediate Learners’ Demotivation and the Strategies Used to Reduce Demotivation in an Iranian Context

[1] Fahimeh Farjami

[2] Nader Asadi Aidinlu*

IJEAP- 1902-1352

[3] Haniyeh Davatgari Asl

 

 

Abstract

Demotivating factors can negatively influence the learners’ attitudes in learning English language. In the present study, demotivating factors and the strategies used to reduce demotivation among Iranian EFL learners were explored through both qualitative and quantitative research methods. İn the qualitative part of the study, semi-structured interviews including two main open-ended questions were done to construct two Sources of Demotivation and Demotivation Reduction Strategies Questionnaires. Then, in the quantitative part of the study, the correlations between EFL learners’, novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions of demotivating factors and strategies learners use to reduce demotivation were explored. Forty Intermediate level EFL learners including 22 female and 18 male learners who attended the classes at Iran Language Institute (ILI) in Tehran, Iran and 200 teachers including 137 experienced teachers and 63 novice teachers who worked at different branches of Iran Language Institute (ILI) in Tehran, Iran were participated in the research project. The qualitative data were analyzed through coding and factor analysis. İn addition to 40 strategies to reduce demotivation in EFL classrooms, quality of teaching, teachers’ characteristics, classroom environment, institute’s facilities, language anxiety, and students’ characteristics were identified as the demotivating factors. Additionally, the findings showed a statistically significant correlation between EFL learners and teachers’ perception of learners’ demotivation and strategies to reduce demotivation and between experienced and novice teachers’ perception of learners’ demotivation and strategies to reduce demotivation too. It was concluded that demotivation is a multidimensional construct containing six components in Iranian context of foreign language learning.

Keywords: Demotivation, Demotivating Factors, Demotivation Reduction Strategies, EFL Teachers, EFL Learning Context

1. Introduction

In Iran context of education, where learners try to learn English at language institutes apart from their academic education at schools, demotivated Fl learners still end up with formal use of English in their classroom and cannot apply the taught material for communication of meaning in real-life circumstances. Ho (1998) maintains that in spite of the importance of demotivation in language learning in general, and second and foreign language learning in particular, so far few numbers of studies have paid attention to students’ demotivation. Moreover, researchers have indicated that demotivation influences the level of ESL/EFL proficiency (Dörnyei and Ushioda, 2011; Falout, Elwood & Hood, 2009; Hu, 2011; Kim, 2009). Despite these studies, there is not enough knowledge about the features and nature of demotivation in each specific context as inadequate investigations have been carried out on this phenomenon. This is because demotivation has been recently added to the field of second language motivation (Dörnyei and Ushioda, 2011; Sakai and Kikuchi, 2009). Although demotivation in FL/SL learning contexts have been recently examined (Falout, Elwood and Hood, 2009; Sakai and Kikuchi, 2009; Kim and Seo, 2012; Jahedizadeh, Ghanizadeh, & Ghonsooly, 2016), little research have been conducted with learning demotivation and demotivation reduction strategies of intermediate EFL learners in a language institute. Accordingly, this study tries to solve this problem by exploring the demotivating factors among EFL learners in the view of teachers in an Iranian context of language education by providing them questionnaires constructed based on the qualitative research data, the literature and the experience of the researcher about Iran EFL context. Another problem which was the focus of the current study was the lack of ample study on strategies to reduce demotivation in FL learning classroom. Some findings indicated that a large number of ESL/EFL learners think that their failure in learning target language emanates from their demotivation (Dörnyei and Ushioda, 2010; Falout, Elwood & Hood, 2009; Hu, 2011; Kim, 2009, Yaghoubinejad, Zarrinabadi and Nejadansari, 2017). As mentioned by Dörnyei and Ushioda (2011), the major challenge is that both instructors and learners are not completely aware of which strategies can reduce the influence of demotivating factors. As a result, studies should be done to identify these strategies. Accordingly, identification of the strategies used by learners to reduce demotivation was investigated in the view of teachers in this study.

2. Literature Review of the Study

The learners once motivated to learn English, lose their interest and energy so that learning English would transform into a suffering and time-consuming task. Therefore, it needs to receive more attention in language learning research due to its direct effect on pedagogy in general and learners’ foreign language learning outcomes in particular. Logically speaking, the learners’ failure in acquiring a language may be related to some demotivational factors which should be considered by language teachers to help them diminish these negative factors and re-motivate the learners. Gary Chambers (originally 1993, but based on 1999) started a longitudinal study to explore the factors that influenced learners’ motivation in learning foreign languages through questionnaire and interviews. He examined demotivated learners in four schools in Leeds, UK, and collected data from 191 “year nine” learners (age 13). A questionnaire was given to 191 students. Seven teachers also completed another questionnaire. They defined de-motivated students in the following ways: 1) lack of enthusiasm, motivation, and concentration on the learning process, 2) lack of self-confidence and eagerness in doing home works, 3) students distraction in class. According to this study, students considered teachers as the main source of de-motivation, unlike teachers who did not perceive themselves as a de-motivating factor. The students blamed their teachers for different reasons such as not giving enough clear instruction, criticizing students, using old-fashioned teaching materials, shouting at students when they do not understand. Other students believed the learning group was too big, and on the other hand, the actual classroom was not spacious enough. However, some other students were the opposite, emphasizing on the need for a smaller room. Chambers was not able to draw far-reaching conclusions about the influence of demotives on L2 learning in his study. According to him, “what one learner likes, the next one detests.” Although it was a fully devoted study on demotivation, Chambers neither determined what demotives are nor looked at them critically.

Dörnyei and Ushioda’s (2011) study differed from those by Chambers (1993) in that it focused on learners who had been identified as being demotivated, whereas the two previous studies were done by taking a cross-section of students and asking them about not so good learning experiences. Dörnyei’s qualitative was done on 50 secondary students learning German or English in various schools of Budapest. The data were collected by one-to-one structured interviews based on a set of core questions that ranged from 10 to 30 minutes. The subjects were supposed to answer questions at some point during the interview, but no rigid structure was set, and they were allowed to speak freely. The data analysis was done by the theme-based content analytical procedure. Firstly, all the salient demotivating topics mentioned by the students were marked and common themes established. Next, the most demotivating factors were identified for each student and tabulated according to the main categories established earlier. Nine categories of demotivating factors were identified. The most salient source of demotivation was about the ‘teacher’ and had 40% of the total frequency of occurrences. The demotivating aspects of the teacher included the teacher’s personality, commitment to teaching, attention paid to students, competence, teaching method, style, and rapport with students. The second most frequently mentioned source of demotivation, with 15% of the occurrences was the learner’s reduced self-confidence. Reduced self-confidence was indirectly related to the teacher, meaning that reduced self-confidence was partly due to some classroom events that were within the teacher’s control, e.g., grading. These two demotivating factors were mentioned by more than half of all demotives mentioned in the interviews. Then, another two demotivating factors that accounted for more than 10% of the occurrences were: ‘inadequate school facilities’ and ‘negative attitude towards the L2.

Sakai and Kikuchi (2009) conducted a study to identify demotivating factors that decrease Japanese high school students’ motivation. The data was collected from 656 students from four Japanese upper secondary schools. A questionnaire that consisted of 35 5-point Likert type questions was used for collecting data. The questions were designed to measure six constructs that derived from the previous studies of L2 demotivation conducted in the Japanese context: teachers, characteristics of classes, experiences of failure, class environment, class materials and lack of interest. A principal axis factor analysis was applied to the data and as a result the following five sources of demotivation: (1) learning contents and materials, (2) teachers’ competence and teaching styles, (3) inadequate school facilities, (4) lack of intrinsic motivation and (5) test scores. Based on their findings, the factors the students found most demotivating were learning contents and materials and test scores. The factors relating to the teacher were not considered the most demotivating factors. Among them, learning contents and materials, and test scores and lack of intrinsic motivation were found to be the most important sources of demotivation, and inadequate school facilities was the least important. The researchers also compared more motivated and less motivated students in terms of demotivating factors. There were significant differences between these two groups for three factors (learning contents and materials, lack of intrinsic motivation, and test scores). Particularly, less motivated students perceived a lack of intrinsic motivation as demotivating more than more motivated students. Moreover, in contrast to previous studies, teachers’ competence and teaching styles were not found to be strong causes of demotivation in this specific context.

Hirvonen’s (2010) study attempted to find out the demotivating factors of Middle Eastern students attending a school in Finland. The purpose of the study was to find out what were the external and internal factors that had a negative impact on immigrant pupils’ motivation to learn English and what factors help immigrant pupils to overcome their demotivation. The participants of the study consisted of seven ninth grade immigrant pupils of a secondary school in Jyvaskyla. They were between 14 to 17 years old. The study followed a qualitative approach, and the data was collected through semi-structured interviews. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed. A theory-bound content analysis was applied in examining the data. The result demonstrates that external demotives were considered more influential than internal demotives. The external demotives that emerged from the data were divided into four types: the teacher, learning material and course content, learning environment, and the simultaneous learning of other languages. The internal demotives fell into three categories, including experience of failure, lack of success, and attitudes towards English.

Based on the results of some studies, demotivation plays an essential role in the learning process. However, this concept has been disregarded as a topic of research subject until recently. In the context of EFL instruction, a lot of factors influence the learning and skills (e.g., teachers, facilities, learners, and class utility). Chambers lists the following attributes of a demotivated learner: making no efforts to learn, displaying no eagerness, having low level of concentration, avoiding doing homework or task, the inability to catch up with the materials, weak self-confidence in one's skills and abilities, displaying low energy, reacting negatively to praises or no reacting at all, lack of willingness to collaborate, making distractions for other students, shouting at others, throwing things. Dörnyei and Ushioda (2011) have characterized Demotivated learner as an individual who used to be motivated but has lost the commitment/interest for some reason. It seems that they lost their interest and desire to engage in classroom activities and tasks. The main strength of the study done by Sakai and Kikuchi (2009) was that the researchers elaborated the findings based on a critical review of the existing studies conducted in Japan. Sakai and Kikuchi (2009) decided to compare the differences between more motivated and less motivated students in terms of demotivating factors. They found significant differences less motivated and more motivated students in three factors: learning contents, lack of intrinsic motivation, and test scores. Particularly, less motivated students perceived Lack of intrinsic motivation as demotivating more than more motivated students.

Among the objectives defined for the present research and mentioned briefly in the following section, the principle purpose that has to be followed was to investigate demotivating factors and strategies to reduce these factors in Iranian EFL context. The present study offers originality in that the demotivating factors and strategies to reduce the demotivation are identified based on the perceptions of both EFL learners and teachers. Additionally, the study attempted to find a statistically significant correlation between Iranian EFL experienced and novice teachers and learners in terms of their perceptions of demotivation sources and strategies used to reduce demotivation in a single study. Considering both theoretical and pedagogical perspectives, the following research questions are addressed in this study to accomplish the aforementioned main objectives:

Research Question One: What are the demotivating factors in Iranian EFL classrooms as perceived by intermediate EFL learners?

Research Question Two: What are the most effective strategies used to reduce learners’ demotivation in Iranian EFL classrooms as perceived by intermediate EFL learners?

Research Question Three: Is there any statistically significant correlation between Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ and teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation and the most effective strategies used to reduce learners’ demotivation in the EFL classroom in ILI?

Research Question Four: Is there any statistically significant correlation between Iranian EFL novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation and the most effective strategies used to reduce learners’ demotivation in EFL classroom in ILI?

As the first two questions are qualitative, there is no hypothesis to be developed. As for the research questions three and four, since the researcher did not find enough literature investigating teachers’ idea about learners’ demotivation, she formulated a null hypothesis as follows:

H01(Q3): There is no statistically significant correlation between Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ and teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation and the most effective strategies used to reduce learners’ demotivation in EFL classroom in ILI.

H02(Q4): There is no statistically significant correlation between Iranian EFL novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation and the most effective strategies used to reduce learners’ demotivation in EFL classroom in ILI.

3. The Methodology of the Study

3.1. Design of the Study

Taking a meticulous look at the research topic, questions, and the hypotheses unveil the nature of the design of the study. After reviewing the related literature of learning demotivation in foreign language field of study, the researcher of the current study realized that most of the research works were largely done to investigate the sources of demotivation based on quantitative methods. Therefore, the current researcher tried to employ mix-methods research approach (both quantitative and qualitative) as the most suitable research design that fit the objectives of the study to examine demotivating factors in an Iranian FL learning context. Although qualitative research has its advantages such as providing in-depth perspectives of participants and capturing their voices in a better-depicted context (Creswell, 2015), quantitative research permits researchers to analyze large quantities of numerical data collected from great numbers of samples; therefore, the results are quantifiable and more objective. Quantitative research prevents prejudice. Additionally, it examines the correlation and cause and effect interaction within research data. Then, a mixed-method approach which combined semi-structured interviews and surveys (questionnaires; to generalize from a representative sample population to a larger population of interest) was the methodological approach deployed in this study. Dörnyei (2007) claims that the studies conducted through mixed-method approaches are highly valuable and helpful to gain a better understanding of the problems embedded in a particular context by demanding an in-depth inquiry into the problems and providing thorough and detailed investigation and analysis. İn the quantitative phase of the study, the current research used three sets of data received from three complementary sources, including EFL learners’, novice, and experienced teachers.’

3.2. Participants

The participants of the qualitative part of the study were 40 (22 female and 18 male) Intermediate level EFL learners aging between 16 and 30, attending the classes at Iran Language Institute in Tehran, Iran. The participants of the quantitative part of the study were 200 Iranian EFL English teachers (137 experienced teacher and 63 novice teachers) teaching in the same institutes. They were originally from Tehran and other cities of Iran aging between 27 and 40 years old. However, age was not controlled because in the first place, it was not the purpose of the study to limit the validity of the outcome of the study to a particular age group and instead the years of experience in teaching was taken into account and in the second place, controlling the age could negatively affect the number of participants of the study. Based on Farrell (2012) definition, those teachers having between one to four years of experience were considered as novice and teachers with experience of five years and more were regarded as experienced. The teachers were selected based on non-random, convenient sampling procedures. Since teachers had passed the language requirements of the institutes, then they had the acceptable level of language proficiency in a way that could not drastically affect their performance on the instruments of the study. Instead, the years of experience in teaching were taken into account as factors to distinguish the teachers.

3.3. Instruments

The main instruments utilized in the present study were interviews (two open-ended questions) for finding the demotivation sources and also the strategies to reduce demotivation, and constructed questionnaires based on the data collected in the qualitative phase of the study to examine the correlation between Iranian EFL learners’, novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation and the most effective strategies used to reduce learners’ demotivation.İn, the first phase of the study, a semi-structured interview was conducted to forty intermediate EFL learners. They were provided with two main open-ended questions; one dealing with demotivating factors (In your view point, what makes you demotivated in learning English?), and another one trying to find the strategies to reduce demotivation ( In your view point, what can be done to stop or at least reduce demotivation in learning English?). Questions were written on a paper both in English and Farsi. The data were gathered to construct two sets of questionnaires exploring sources of demotivation and the most effective strategies used to reduce learners’ demotivation.Based on the data gathered in interviews, two Sources of Demotivation and Strategies to Reduce Demotivation questionnaires were developed following a Likert-scale type format to measure the main constructs of the present study. Each item on the instrument contained five choices (1 = Not true; 2 = Mostly not true; 3 = Neither true or untrue; 4 = To some extent true; and 5 = True) and the respondents were asked to choose one of the choices best describing him/her in relation to the characteristic under question.

3.4. Procedure

The mixed-methods research approach utilized as the design of the current study consisted of two phases: the earliest phase of gathering and analyzing qualitative data through semi-structured interviews was followed by the secondary confirmatory phase of gathering and analyzing quantitative data to construct two sets of questionnaires. Due to a sever lack of mixed-methods research into FL learning demotivation mechanism and its structure or demotivating factors among Iranian learners of English, the researcher of the current study decided to do a comprehensive research that is concerned with the underlying EFL learners’ and teachers’ perceptions, statements, descriptions, reactions and responses to FL demotivation and demotivators that are believed to be best examined by qualitative research approach. Then, identification of demotivating factors and different strategies to reduce learning demotivation in FL context was conceptualized through both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (survey) studies. To reach the aims of the study, the data collection procedure of the study followed the following phases:

1. Conducting interviews, on the exploratory side, as an attempt to explore EFL learners’ demotivating factors and the strategies to reduce them. Two main open-ended questions exploring two different variables were asked; one to identify demotivating factors (In your view point, what makes you demotivated in learning English? To develop the Demotivating Factors Questionnaire) and another one trying to find the strategies to reduce demotivation (In your view point, what can be done to stop or at least reduce demotivation in learning English? To develop the Strategies used to Reduce Demotivation Questionnaire).

2. Administration of two constructed Demotivating Factors and Strategies used to Reduce Demotivation Questionnaires to 200 EFL teachers including 137 experienced and 63 novice teachers to measure their perceptions concerning demotivation and strategies to reduce it in learning English as a foreign language and to find any significant correlation in their performance on the questionnaires

3.5 Conducting Semi-Structured Interviews and Constructing Two sets of Questionnaires

Due to some limitations of quantitative data to access unexpected reasons of test takers who have unclear perceptions about different aspects of the test they took in this research, the researcher decided to collect qualitative data to confirm the findings from quantitative phase of the study. The qualitative research data that was collected to support the quantitative research data came from conducting semi-structured interviews with 40 participants who were randomly selected from intermediate EFL learners attending the classes in Iran Language Institutes (ILI) in Tehran.

The researcher was interested in using semi-structured interview because, in this kind of interview, questions could be prepared in advance, the interviewees could express themselves easily in the ways they preferred, and reliable qualitative data could be obtained. The questions of the interview were developed by the researcher and then content-analyzed by two experts of TEFL. Those 40 randomly selected EFL learners were invited to collect some information about their attitudes towards demotivating factors and strategies to reduce demotivation in EFL learning context. The researcher used the interview guide printed on paper that was required to be observed during the conversations in order not to stray from the interview procedure. The interview guide helps the interviewer stay on track and keep consistency throughout the interviews with different respondents. Although the researcher tried to keep track of interview guide during the interview, he sometimes followed some kind of topical trajectories that were drawn out from the content of conversations to understand at hand topic in clearer ways.

To prevent the influence of participants’ speeches, all the participants were interviewed individually and separately. The interview for each participant took about 7-10 minutes. Forty interviews took about 320 minutes in two sessions. The questions of the interview were asked neutrally by the researcher of this study as the interviewer. When the interviewees kept answering to the questions, the interviewer listened carefully, and whenever he felt it was right, the interviewer strayed from the current talks to a new topic that was drawn out from the interviewee’s previous speeches. But the interviewer was very cautious of not leading the respondents and their answers to any preconceived notions. Furthermore, he did not try to encourage or discourage the respondents by expressing agreement or disagreement of their statements. The interview with each participant was recorded using a Sony digital voice recorder model ICD-PX333. The voice recorder was small enough to fit into the pocket and had a memory of more than 30 hours of recording.

The first stage of qualitative analysis of interview data after collecting data was a transcription of the recorded voices on the digital voice recorder. In transcription, just the relevant sections of recorded conversations were picked up. Once transcription of the data has been completed, content analysis was conducted on transcribed data by identifying all the main concepts. The content analysis involved thematic analysis of the received data. In the thematic analysis, similar statements and responses to the same question were coded and categorized under a common theme (Seidman, 1998). The main relevant and meaningful notions and concepts were identified and categorized under common themes. After the classification of concepts under clear and definite themes, the researcher employed the member check technique to validate her data analysis. She asked his respondents to check the analysis of their conversations with her to see if those concepts under specific categorizations were a representation of what they expressed in the interview. One of the features of open-ended questions is that some answers appear more frequently than the other answers. It is the stage that we can create a coding frame for our concepts to indicate that which answers occurred more frequently and which answers were the most significant ones to this kind of questions. Then, the resulted data was delivered to two TEFL instructors to check its content validity and to check the cohesion and coherence of the sentences and the accuracy of the phrases.

Then, based on the interviews data, two sets of tentative questionnaires were formed and given to the same expert panel to comment on the formatted questionnaires. In case there was total agreement over the content, wording, and grammar of the questionnaire, final considerations were made, and the questionnaires were ready for further empirical scrutiny. Following that, the questionnaires went under a pilot study with 15 teachers and 15 learners. To address the main point concerning the validity and reliability of the questionnaire, it must be noted that the content validity of the questionnaires was established through appealing to expert opinion (Brown, 2007), the reliability was established drawing on pilot study results analyzed based on Cronbach’s alpha (Dorney, 2003), and the construct validity was assured through factor analysis (Brown, 2007).

Having done the content validity of the questionnaires by the analysis and reviewing of the panel of experts including Ph.D. holders in TEFL, and factor analyzing, the questionnaires were piloted on a sample of 15 EFL teachers and 15 EFL learners with similar characteristics `to check their reliability. The questionnaire was administered to this sample, and the collected data were prepared for Cronbach’s alpha. Following that, the questionnaires were administered to the 200 teachers for factor analysis to uncover the underlying construct of demotivation and strategies to reduce it in Iranian EFL Context. Consequently, to examine the internal consistency of the constructed questionnaires, a Cronbach’s α reliability analysis was performed on the obtained responses of the 30 respondents for both questionnaires. The analysis of the internal consistency resulted in relatively high-reliability coefficients (for Sources of Demotivation Questionnaire, α=88 & for Demotivation Reduction Strategies Questionnaire, α=87).

3.6. Data Analysis

The data that was collected through a quantitative phase of the study absolutely provided a way to support the data gathered from interviews. The data collected in interview sessions were transcribed, coded, and categorized under definite themes after confirming the accuracy of the phrases by two EFL experts who were the faculty members of the university. Finally, the data went through content analysis, which is a technique to help the researcher investigate human behaviors indirectly by analyzing their speeches and statements (Fraenkel et al., 2012). Between two content analysis approaches, including narrating and quantifying the data, the narrative technique was used to apply distinguished codes and themes. Recognized codes and themes were employed to organize the content received in the interviews and to attain a narrative description of gathered interview data. In this way, the redundant and unrelated words were reduced according to the data reduction technique (Seidman, 2012). Then the most important and major sections of the transcriptions and statements declared by the participants were traced and coded under clear categories and themes. In the coding phase, the most significant points were labeled and put into appropriate categories.

The data related to two demotivation and strategies variables that were examined by questionnaires were given to the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 22 (SPSS) running on a Sony CORE i5 laptop. İn addition to factor analysis and descriptive statistics, the main statistical test to compare the results of two questionnaires and to show any significant correlation between three EFL learners, experienced and novice teachers groups was Pearson's product-moment correlation statistical test after checking the assumptions of normality.

4. Results and Discussion

To identify demotivating factors in Iranian EFL context, first 40 Intermediate level learners were provided with two main open-ended questions asking about their ideas about the factors causing them demotivation in English language learning and also the strategies to reduce demotivation in EF classrooms. The findings showed that the main sources of demotivation were teacher’s personality, classroom environment, facilities of the school, anxiety, and students’ characteristics. A collection of 42 items with Likert scale were written. The items were reviewed by EFL experts, and necessary revisions in terms of wording and structure were made. Finally, to examine the factorial structure of the invented scales, factor analysis was run. To identify the factors, two methods were employed; eigenvalue table through Principal Component Analysis and eigenvalue plot. Table 1 shows the results of factor loading and the related variances of the data related to the demotivation construct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1: Factor Loadings and Variances of the Demotivating Factors Data

Component

Initial Eigenvalues

Rotation Sums of Squared Loadings

Total

% of Variance

Cumulative %

Total

1

3.535

12.991

12.991

3.096

2

3.827

11.770

24.761

2.152

3

2.203

8.948

33.709

1.886

4

2.190

7.246

40.955

1.841

5

1.771

5.725

46.680

1.598

6

1.321

4.778

51.458

1.289

7

.999

4.136

55.594

 

8

.998

3.835

59.428

 

9

.997

3.686

63.115

 

10

.915

3.302

66.417

 

11

.900

2.672

69.089

 

12

.882

2.465

71.555

 

13

.871

2.153

73.708

 

14

.860

2.774

76.482

 

15

.855

2.689

79.171

 

16

.870

1.499

80.671

 

17

.835

1.440

82.110

 

18

.724

1.249

83.359

 

19

.663

1.143

84.502

 

20

.646

1.113

85.615

 

21

.587

1.012

86.628

 

22

.578

1.997

87.625

 

23

.525

.904

89.529

 

24

.479

.827

90.356

 

25

.476

.820

91.176

 

26

.455

.785

91.961

 

27

.437

.754

92.715

 

28

.406

.701

93.416

 

29

.399

.687

94.103

 

30

.363

.626

94.728

 

31

.345

.596

95.324

 

32

.329

.567

95.891

 

33

.312

.538

96.429

 

34

.284

.490

96.919

 

35

.279

.482

97.400

 

36

.271

.467

97.867

 

37

.254

.439

98.306

 

38

.247

.426

98.732

 

39

.238

.411

99.143

 

40

.221

.381

99.524

 

41

.220

.254

99.778

 

42

.217

.222

100

 

Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.

 

a. When components are correlated, sums of squared loadings cannot be added to obtain a total variance.

 

As seen in Table 1, the first six components have eigenvalue higher than 1.00, which is an indication of the factorial structure of the demotivation construct. To further make sure about the components of the demotivation construct, eigenvalue plot is demonstrated (Figure 1).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1. Eigenvalue Plot of the Demotivation Construct

In Figure 1, it can be seen that there are six points of a break in the slope of the components which are in line with eigenvalue loadings in Table 1. It can be concluded that the demotivation construct, which was theoretically revolved around six content areas was valid in terms of factorial construction. Table 2 shows the factor loading of the components and their related items.

Table 2: Factor Loading of the Components

Factors

I think demotivation occurs when

Loadings

1

2

3

4

5

6

Quality of teaching

The pace of the lessons is not appropriate.

.870

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the lessons focus on grammar.

.835

 

 

 

 

 

English passages in the textbooks are too long.

.724

 

 

 

 

 

A great number of textbooks and supplementary readers are assigned.

.663

 

 

 

 

 

English sentences in the lessons are difficult to interpret.

.646

 

 

 

 

 

 Students are expected to use (or speak and write) grammatically correct English.

.587

 

 

 

 

 

The quality of instruction is low.

.578

 

 

 

 

 

Students are not happy with the teacher and classmates.

.525

 

 

 

 

 

Students don’t like the teaching method, and it demotivates them.

.479

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher’s characteristics

Teachers are not approachable or friendly

 

.587

 

 

 

 

English teachers do not give the students good advice about studying English.

 

.578

 

 

 

 

Teachers do not give the students positive comments on their English.

 

.525

 

 

 

 

Teachers do not teach the students what they want to learn about English.

 

.479

 

 

 

 

Teachers are not enthusiastic.

 

.476

 

 

 

 

Teachers are not fair with all the students.

 

.455

 

 

 

 

Teachers’ explanations are not easy to understand.

 

.437

 

 

 

 

 Teachers’ pronunciation of English is poor.

 

.406

 

 

 

 

Teachers make one-way explanations too often.

 

.399

 

 

 

 

Teachers ridicule students’ mistakes.

 

.363

 

 

 

 

Teachers shout or get angry.

 

.345

 

 

 

 

Classroom environment

 

Inside the classroom, it is dark and depressing.

 

 

.435

 

 

 

Inside the classroom is not well decorated, and it does not give the students a good feeling.

 

 

.400

 

 

 

The chairs are not comfortable, and the students get tired after sitting for a while.

 

 

.404

 

 

 

There is not a window for fresh air or enough lighting.

 

 

.437

 

 

 

Institute’s facilities

 

Computer equipment is not used.

 

 

 

.707

 

 

Visual materials (such as videos and DVDs) are not used.

 

 

 

.618

 

 

The Internet is not used.

 

 

 

.575

 

 

 Language learning equipment is not used.

 

 

 

.558

 

 

Language anxiety

 

Students are afraid of making mistakes.

 

 

 

 

.659

 

Students feel embarrassed about their pronunciation and accent.

 

 

 

 

.652

 

Students are laughed at when speaking in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

.649

 

Students lose concentration because of too many things they need to focus on.

 

 

 

 

.645

 

Students generally have an anxious personality.

 

 

 

 

.630

 

Students are anxious because of participation in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

.581

 

Students hear others talking English well, and then they lose their confidence.

 

 

 

 

.534

 

Students are negatively evaluated by the instructor.

 

 

 

 

.525

 

Students’ characteristics

 

Students feel inferior to their classmates for their English ability.

 

 

 

 

 

.475

Students are not confident in learning English.

 

 

 

 

 

.452

Students do not do well in English tests.

 

 

 

 

 

.434

Students are embarrassed about using English in classes.

 

 

 

 

 

.427

Students do not achieve much after starting English classes.

 

 

 

 

 

.427

Grades for English tests are not in accordance with students’ expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

.424

 

Accordingly, the answer to the first question of this study which was about the main constructs of sources of demotivation among Iranian EFL learners includes the quality of teaching, teachers’ characteristics, classroom environment, Institute’s facilities, language anxiety, and students’ characteristics. After seeking the approval of experts and some revisions; the questionnaire was ready for reliability analysis using the internal consistency measure of Cronbach’s Alpha. Table 3 shows the descriptive statistics and also Cronbach’s Alpha report of the demotivation questionnaire once among the EFL teachers and once among EFL learners in the pilot study.

Table 3: Descriptive Statistics and Cronbach’s Alpha Report of Demotivation Questionnaire

 

Groups

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

Alpha

Sources of Demotivation Questioniare

Teacher

15

112.202

8.19582

2.11615

.851

Learners

15

91.8667

13.83508

3.57220

.811

 

Based on the Cronbach’s Alpha analysis, the questionnaire of sources of demotivation had a relatively high-reliability index of 0.85 in the teacher group and 0.81 in the learner group. To identify the strategies to reduce demotivation in Iranian EFL context, first, 40 intermediate level EFL learners were provided with one main open-ended question asking about their ideas about what can be done to remove or at least decrease demotivation in English language learning. The items were reviewed by experts, and necessary revisions in terms of wording and structure were made. Accordingly, a draft of 40 Items as strategies to reduce demotivation was finalized. The reliability of the questionnaire on strategies to reduce demotivation were estimated in the pilot study before being used in the main study. The reliability analysis was done through internal consistency measure of Cronbach’s Alpha. Table 4 shows the descriptive statistics and also Cronbach’s Alpha report of the demotivation reduction strategies questionnaire once among the EFL teachers and once among EFL learns in the pilot study.

Table 4: Descriptive statistics and Cronbach’s Alpha Report of DRS Questionnaire

 

Groups

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

Alpha

Demotivation Reduction Strategies Questioniare

Teacher

15

128.27

13.35486

3.44821

.784

Learners

15

106.93

10.70024

2.76279

.731

Based on the Cronbach’s Alpha analysis, the demotivation reduction strategies questionnaire had a good reliability index of 0.78 in the teacher group and 0.73 in the learner group. To analyze each research hypothesis, choosing an appropriate statistical analysis is important based on the variables and the correlation between them. For the third research question, it was hypothesized that there was no correlation between Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ and teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation and the most effective strategies used to reduce learners’ demotivation in EFL classroom in ILI. The Pearson's product-moment correlation to assess the correlation between Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ and teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation and the most effective strategies used to reduce learners’ demotivation in EFL classroom in ILI revealed that there was a correlation between the perceptions of two demotivation and strategies variables between two groups of EFL learners and teachers. The data related to the perceptions of sources of demotivation were correlated between EFL learners and teachers. Similarly, data related to strategies to reduce learners’ demotivation were correlated between these two groups. Based on the results of Pearson correlation coefficient, there was a significant positive correlation between EFL learners and teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation (ρ=0.83, p≤0.01) and strategies to reduce demotivation (ρ=0.87, p≤0.01). Then, the first null hypothesis is rejected based on the results of the Pearson correlation coefficient.

The fourth research question was to find if there was any significant correlation between novice and experienced EFL teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation and the strategies they use to reduce learners’ demotivation. To find the answer to this research question, the data related to the perceptions of sources of demotivation were correlated between novice and experienced teachers. Similarly, data related to strategies to reduce learners’ demotivation were correlated between novice and experienced teachers. Since the data of the study were normally distributed, the Pearson correlation coefficient was employed to seek the correlation. Table 5 shows the correlation between novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation, and Table 6 also shows the correlation between novice and experienced teachers’ strategies to reduce learners’ demotivation.

 

Table 5: Correlation Between Novice and Experienced Teachers’ Perceptions of Sources of Demotivation

 

Sources of demotivation for novice teachers

Sources of demotivation for experienced teachers

Pearson Correlation

.850**

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

N

63

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

 

Based on the result of the Pearson correlation coefficient, there was a significant positive correlation between novice and experienced teachers’ perceptions of sources of demotivation (ρ=0.85, p≤0.01).

Table 6: Correlation Between Novice and Experienced Teachers’ Strategies to Reduce Learners’ Demotivation

 

Demotivation strategies for novice teachers

Demotivation strategies for experienced teachers

Pearson Correlation

.795**

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

N

63

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

 

According to the result of the Pearson correlation coefficient, there was also a significant positive correlation between novice and experienced teachers’ strategies to reduce learners’ demotivation (ρ=0.79, p≤0.01). Then, the second null hypothesis of the present study as stated earlier; “There is no significant correlation between novice and experienced EFL teachers’ perception of sources of demotivation and the strategies they use to reduce learners’ demotivation“ is rejected based on the results of the Pearson correlation coefficient shown in table 5 and table 6.

5. Conclusion

The purpose of the study was to explore the components of the construct of demotivation and the strategies used to reduce demotivation. Also, it was an attempt to examine the correlation between EFL learners and teachers, and also a novice and experienced teachers in terms of their perception of demotivation and the strategies to reduce demotivation. For the first part of the study, a factorial analysis was employed after theoretically developing the demotivation construct by consulting the related literature and scales. As for the rest of the study, correlation design was adopted, and the relationship was estimated by running Person correlation coefficient. Results of the study indicated that the six-factor solution was the best factorial structure for the demotivation construct, which proved that the demotivation questionnaire developed to measure demotivation was constructively valid. The factors were labeled as the quality of teaching, teachers’ characteristics, classroom environment, institute’s facilities, language anxiety, and students’ characteristics. Also, it was found that there were significant positive relationships between novice and experiences teachers in terms of their perception of demotivation sources and strategies to reduce demotivation.

According to many researchers (e.g., Dörnyei, 2001; Warden & Lin, 2000), motivation can be considered as one of the main influential factors in a person’s success in a second or foreign language learning context given the significant role of motivation in learning a foreign language (Dörnyei, 1990, 2001a, 2001b; Oxford & Shearin, 1994; Scarcella & Oxford, 1992; Warden & Lin, 2000) and considering the fact that demotivational factors affect the learning process negatively (Song, 2005), the present study aimed at investigating the demotivation constructs in Iranian EFL context and teachers' perceptions towards sources of demotivation and strategies for reducing demotivation.

Ryan and Deci (2000) stated that “by motivation, it means to be moved to do something. A person who feels no impetus or inspiration to act is thus characterized as unmotivated, while someone who is energized or activated toward an end is considered motivated” (p.54). According to Dörnyei (2001), demotivation can be defined as the negative influences of various factors that negatively impact motivation. In a study by Song (2005), sources of demotivation were identified as (1) difficulties in learning; (2) threats to self-worth; (3) boring teaching; (4) weak teacher-student relationship; (5) punishments; (6) student anxiety, both general and language-specific; (7) lack of self-determination; and (8) weak classroom management. In the present study, based on the analyses, demotivating factors were identified as a quality of teaching, teachers’ characteristics, classroom environment, institute’s facilities, language anxiety, and students’ characteristics. Also, it was found that there were significant relationships between novice and experienced teachers in terms of their perception of demotivation and strategies to reduce demotivation. It was concluded that demotivation is a multidimensional construct containing six components in Iranian context of language learning. Also, it was concluded that multidimensionality of the demotivation construct was fully in line with literature on demotivation, and there are many similarities in terms of demotivating factors found in the current study and those done previously.

In the current study, quality of teaching was one of the sources of demotivation which was in line with Arai (2004), Kikuchi and Sakai (2007), Tsuchiya (2006a), and Zhang (2007). It is not far from the expectation that the quality of instruction is a demotivating factor. Most of the language institutes in Iran are private schools, which means that the enrolment is not free, and learners need to pay for the education service. Accordingly, it is sensible that any problem in the quality of teaching and instruction would be demotivating. The study by Meshkat and Hassani (2012) also pointed to the teachers’ competence as a source of demotivation. Gorham and Christophel (1992) also pointed to the knowledgeability and management skill of teachers as sources of demotivation after exploring demotivating factors in 308 American undergraduate college students.

The second demotivating factor was found to be teachers’ characteristics, which was related to teachers’ behaviors like teachers’ friendliness, caring personality, and eagerness. Literature has also indicated that a teacher’s personality and behaviors area among the factors contributing to demotivation (Christophel & Gorham, 1995; Falout and Maruyama, 2004; Kojima, 2004). Dörnyei (1998) listed nine demotivating factors, the first of which included teacher personality. Logically, it is quite acceptable that students like to spend time with a nice and caring teacher rather than aggressive and too strict person. Ikeno (2002) conducted a study on 65 Japanese university students seeking to find the demotivating factors. He came up with 13 categories, among which one pointed to the character of teachers.

The third factor was found classroom environment that demotivated Iranian EFL learners which were consistent with studies by Arai (2004), Christophel and Gorham (1995), Falout and Maruyama (2004), and Gorham and Millette (1997). In this factor, certain aspects of the physical environment of the classroom seem to negatively affect learners’ motivation level. For instance, when the classroom is dark inside, the decoration is ugly and disappointing, or the chairs and tables are not comfortable students may develop a negative attitude which would adversely affect the learners’ motivation level. In the study by Gorham and Christophel (1992), the physical classroom environment like the size of the class, poor equipment, and the unattractive room was considered as a source of demotivation. In their study, 36% of the learners attributed demotivation to structure/format factor, which was indirectly related to the physical classroom environment.

The fourth factor was the institute’s facilities like computer equipment, visual materials, and the internet. Similar studies in the past have also found that the school’s facility affects the motivation of learners (Kojima, 2004; Ikeno, 2002; Zhang, 2007). In other words, the availability of such facilities and their use positively related to motivation level of students and their absence and lack of use may demotivate learners. In the study by Sakai and Kikuchi (2009), inadequate school facilities were among the important demotivating factors. They found six demotivating factors affecting the Japanese language learners with inadequate school facilities as one of the main factors.

The fifth factor was labeled as the language anxiety, which was related to the student’s state of uneasiness and anxiety. This anxiety could be language performance anxiety or general anxiety of the learners as part of their personality. Language anxiety has also been quoted as a demotivating factor by researchers (Aida, 1994; Brown, Robson, and Rosenkjar, 2001; Gardner, Day, & MacIntyre, 1992; Tsai & Change, 2013). This finding is also in line with the expectations before conducting the study as learners may not be willing to be involved in unpleasant and stressful situations (Aida, 1994). The last factor was the students’ characteristics that were related to students’ behaviors in the classroom. For instance, when students laugh at their classmate because of mistakes or when students feel that their classmates are performing better than he/she, they may get demotivated and refrain from serious attempts for learning. Previous studies have also pointed to peer’s behaviors as a source of demotivation (Kikuchi and Sakai, 2007; Kojima, 2004). Dörnyei (1998) and Sakai and Kikuchi (2009) have pointed that attitude of learning group members affects the motivation of language learners and any misbehavior or embarrassing action may negatively affect language learner’s motivation level.

Another finding of the study was that the perception of sources of demotivation was positively correlated between novice EFL teachers and experienced EFL teachers. This finding suggests that novice EFL teachers and experienced EFL teachers see the sources of demotivation in a similar way. Not only that, but they also gave similar scores to each source of demotivation that caused significant and considerable correlation. Similarly, the use of demotivation strategies was significantly correlated between novice EFL teachers and experienced EFL teachers indicating similar ideas of novice EFL teachers and experienced EFL teachers in strategies to reduce demotivation. One reason for such a significant relationship is that teachers were also learners one day, and they may still hold the same attitude towards demotivation and demotivation strategies. Another reason can be the use of self-report scales to explore the perceptions of sources of demotivation and strategies to reduce demotivation. In other words, such self-report scales are limited in that students need to choose from among the limited number of items (Brown, 2007) which may not capture the perception of sources of demotivation and strategies to reduce demotivation comprehensively. The results of the study were quite in line with previous studies on demotivating factors done in other contexts. For instance, the results of the current study showed that demotivation is multidimensional rather than unidimensional, which is in line with Song (2005). He also concluded that the reasons for demotivating some students are multidimensional and teachers were shown to play a significant role in that process. From another point, similar factors have been proposed by previous researchers as demotivating factors. Generally, the demotivating factors identified in the current study were in line with those identified by Chang and Cho (2003), Falout and Maruyama (2004), Muhonen (2004), Christophel and Gorham (1995), Sakai and Kikuchi (2009), and Qashoa (2006).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] PhD Candidate of TEFL, fahimefarjami@yahoo.com; Department of English Language Teaching, Ahar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ahar, Iran

[2] Assistant Professor (Corresponding Author), n.asadi@iau-ahar.ac.ir; Department of English Language Teaching, Ahar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ahar, Iran

[3] Assistant Professor, hdavatgar@ymail.com; Department of English Language Teaching, Ahar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ahar, Iran

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