Referring to motivation as a unitary concept is insufficient to explain and fully understand its dynamics in the classroom because individual motivation exists at different levels of generality. A previous study (Tanaka, 2009b) addressed the multiplicity of ways to represent intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation was represented within the individual at three hierarchical levels of generality: intrinsic trait motivation, intrinsic classroom motivation, and intrinsic motivation to classroom activities. For the study, a motivational strategy was created for Japanese university students on the basis of self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2002). In this study was examined the facilitating effect on the three motivational subconstructs and the three basic psychological needs (i.e., the needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness). The correlational relationships between intrinsic trait motivation and the three psychological needs were not examined. The results showed that the strategy did facilitate intrinsic classroom motivation and intrinsic motivation to classroom activities; intrinsic trait motivation was not significantly enhanced. The results also showed that the need for competence was not significantly increased as the study could not address the correlational relationship between competence and any of the three motivational subconstructs. Additionally, several motivational studies have shown that competence is an important facilitating factor for Japanese English learners, though the dynamics of competence in the motivational classroom have not been focused on so far.
Therefore, in the present study was examined the effect of a revised version of the motivational strategy created by Tanaka (2009b) on these three motivational subconstructs and the basic psychological needs. The purposes of this study are as follows: (a) to satisfy learners’ basic psychological needs (especially the need for competence); (b) to enhance students’ intrinsic motivation (especially intrinsic trait motivation); (c) to examine the relationship between intrinsic motivation (especially intrinsic trait motivation) and basic psychological needs (especially the need for competence); and (d) to describe how the need for competence is satisfied in the motivational classroom.
Fifty-eight university students who were enrolled in a 1st-year English language course participated in this study. The students met once a week in a 90-minute class. The motivational strategy used by Tanaka (2009b) was revised for this study. The motivational strategy was given to the students for 15 weeks. Prior to this intervention, questionnaires about intrinsic motivation and the three psychological needs were distributed. Items on intrinsic motivation consisted of three subconstructs: intrinsic trait motivation, intrinsic classroom motivation, and intrinsic motivation to classroom activities. Items on basic psychological needs consisted of three subconstructs: the needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The same questionnaires were administered in the middle and at the end of the intervention. An open-ended questionnaire was also administered to students at the post-measurement stage. Descriptive statistics, correlation coefficients, one-way repeated ANOVA, and effect size were calculated to see the effect of the motivational strategy. The SCQRM M-GTA was also adopted to interpret qualitative data.
The results of quantitative analysis showed that (a) the intervention had a significant positive effect on all subconstructs of intrinsic motivation and basic psychological needs; (b) intrinsic trait motivation and intrinsic classroom motivation were strongly correlated with the need for competence; (c) intrinsic motivation for listening activities was strongly correlated with the need for autonomy and competence; and (d) intrinsic motivation for speaking activities was strongly correlated with the need for autonomy and relatedness. The results of qualitative analysis showed how the need for competence was satisfied in the motivational classroom. Once students valued academic activities and internalized them, they made an effort to use what they had learned in class. The overall result of this study was that the motivational-strategy intervention facilitated language acquisition and student competence.