Language Learner Autonomy, Motivation, and Proximal Goal Completion

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Paul A. Lyddon, Kanda University of International Studies


The motivation and autonomy interface has generated considerable interest over the past two decades, yet much remains unclear with regard to the nature of the relationship between these two variables. In the context of a 15-week elective training course on learner autonomy, this study examined the ongoing reflections of Japanese university learners of English on their progress toward self-selected short-term learning goals. Despite evidence elsewhere of a positive effect of proximal goals on intrinsic interest and learner self-motivation (e.g., Bandura & Schunk, 1981), the findings here showed an inconsistent relationship between demonstration of learner autonomy and successful goal completion. Through a qualitative analysis of student narratives from the perspective of Locke and Latham’s (1990) Goal-Setting Theory, I attempt to explain this discrepancy. Potential implications for fostering greater learner autonomy in language learning are also discussed.

モチベーションと自律の結びつきは過去20年で相当の興味を生み出したが、それら二つの変動的要素の関係の本質は明確でないままである。本研究では、自律学習についての15週間の選択科目を通して、日本の英語学習者である大学生の、自身で定めた短期学習目標達成への進捗の継続的省察を調べた。いたるところで見られる短期目標の内発的興味と学習者自己動機付けへの好ましい効果の証(例:Bandura and Schunk, 1981)とは裏腹に、調査結果は自律学習行動を示すことと目標達成の関係には一貫性がないことを示した。Locke and Latham(1990)のGoal-Setting Theoryの観点に基づいて行った、学生の談話の定性分析を通して、この論文では先の矛盾への説明を試みる。一層の学習者自律促進への潜在的影響についても考察する。