Adaptive and maladaptive motivational responses in online learners
The speed at which on-line technologies are being adopted in the learning of English as a second or foreign language creates an urgent need to establish links between theoretical positions and professional practice in the digital realm. As far as issues in motivation studies are concerned, much of what is known about the way learners of English behave is classroom and print-based and may not illuminate operational matters on-line to their fullest extent. This thesis describes the trial of English academic reading skills materials designed for Chinese scholars attending a tertiary-level Institution overseas and attempts to Identify and understand the variables that affected their performance on-line. The data collected from both quantitative and qualitative sources were considered within a framework that Identifies distinct patterns of behaviour, classified either as adaptive or maladaptive, Insofar as they affect the ways learners use their talents In the classroom. Analysis of the data showed that some participants seemed to obstruct their own learning on-line through their negative affective responses to the technology, materials and pedagogy used on the course. Others were able to achieve to a certain extent personally challenging and valued achievement goals. The data also highlighted challenges facing language tutors on-line In relationship building, fostering reflective practice and promoting Independence, and self-direction. Such areas of research are considered to be of particular value to practitioners who work In on-line contexts and have difficulty In Identifying and managing the dynamics of the environment they are involved in. Several implications are drawn from this study concerning the exploitation of online learning environments with Chinese students. Chief among these concerns the claim that cultural factors have a powerful Influence on the manner in which these students study and react on-line. In particular, Issues of 'face-management' and the operation of the 'self-worth motive' are highlighted and commented upon.