Stage 2: Generating questionnaire items
To generate qualitative input for the development of the questionnaire items, the researcher designed an open-ended questionnaire asking students how they would react to the motivational problems in different situations in their English learning. The design of the open-ended questionnaire was based on the results of the investigation about motivational problems in the first stage and the related studies (Cherng, 2002; Li, Xue, & Han, 2006; Wolters, 1998). On each page of the questionnaire, students were given one situation with five types of motivational problems (see Appendix 1). Three situations were presented, that is, learning in class, learning after class, and preparing for exams. The five motivational problems were: learning material or task seems useless or unimportant; learning material or task is difficult; English learning or learning task is boring or uninteresting; the environment is disturbing or distracting then from learning; personal bad mood or feeling of tiredness that reduces the motivation to learn. After each type of problem, students were asked to write down what they would do if they wanted to get themselves to continue working on the tasks. Although the five motivational problems were given in the same order on each page, the order of the three situations was different for different students. Eighty-seven college students from two universities were involved in this pilot study. Students generally took between 20 and 30 minutes to complete the entire questionnaire. initial responses from students were then combined with theoretical input derived from a comprehensive review of the relevant literature (McCann & Garcia, 1999; Wolters, 1999) to form the first version of the questionnaire items for motivational regulation. The first version of the motivational regulation questionnaire consisted of 58 items. All the items in the questionnaire were written in Chinese. These items were developed into a Likert-type questionnaire that asked students to report the frequency with which they used the strategies to maintain or improve their motivation in English learning. Subjects were expected to respond on a five-point scale from 1 (never or almost never true of me) to 5 (completely or almost completely true of me).