Motivational adjustment of (primary) teacher trainees in the early stages of learning to teach English in Hong Kong
Despite decades of research on human motivation within an educational context, there emerges
neither one theory nor one pragmatic intervention that is commonly accepted. These observations raise two
fundamental questions: why does human motivation confound a common theoretical base and why does it
appear to resist interventions?
Addressing these two fundamental questions, this thesis offers a literature critique that highlights
motivation in education as value-laden. The thesis then posits that to understand motivational adjustment
the critical focus lies not on the value-agents (lecturers, parents) but on the value-receivers (the students).
Additionally, the thesis posits that an adequate comprehension of students' motivational adjustment
requires a research methodology that embraces the defining context.
The research subjects are two cohorts of trainee (Primary) teachers. The first cohort (N=47)
comprises incoming students direct from Secondary education. The second cohort (N=33) are post
Certificate in Education students with prior work and teaching experience. Both cohorts are enrolled in first
semester, Batchelor of Education programmes at the Hong Kong Institute of Education in Hong Kong,
Special Administrative Region of the Peoples' Republic of China. A feature of this study is that the
research subjects are ethnic Chinese.
Reporting a semester-long study, a critique of 'motivation' is provided in the light of data collated
from both pre and post semester questionnaires (N= 160) and mid and end semester interviews (N= 38).
Data analysis displays the emergence over one semester of an underlying motivational conformity
towards prioritising 'self-defense'. Three effects of prioritising 'self-defense' are noted: first, students'
perception of an event is subservient to its short-term experience; second, cognition is subservient to
affective responses and third, goals are determined by the interaction between the affective and cognitive
The thesis concludes by noting implications for further research in both human motivation and
Key words: Motivation, teacher-training, culture. ethnic Chinese, Hong Kong (PRC).