Motivational Regulation Strategies
In general, the present study found that Chinese EFL college students used a variety of motivational-regulation strategies to sustain or increase their effort and persistence at English-learning tasks. Using the exploratory factor analysis, the study identified eight types of motivational- regulation strategies that Chinese college students used in their English learning: interest enhancement, performance self-talk, mastery self-talk, self-reward, negative-based incentive, task-value enhancement, volitional control, and self-efficacy enhancement. Interest enhancement is the motivational-regulation strategy that students use to regulate their motivation by increasing the immediate enjoyment or the situational interest of an academic activity or by increasing the relevance or meaningfulness of a task through linking it to their own life or their own personal interests. Performance self-talk indicates that students would think about or remind themselves about their desire to do better than others or to do well in exams or on the course so that they overcame the motivational problems presented. On the one hand, students think about extrinsic reasons concerning performance for wanting to complete an activity, for example, when faced with an urge to quit studying a student may think about getting higher grades or doing well in exams or on the course to convince themselves to continue working. On the other hand, students think about various relative ability reasons for wanting to complete an activity, for example, students purposefully think about doing better than others or compare themselves with others as a way of convincing themselves to continue studying. Mastery self-talk includes the strategies of thinking about mastery-related goals such as satisfying their curiosity or becoming more competent about a topic to increase their motivation. Students rely on different types of mastery goals to prompt themselves to complete an activity. They may subvocalize or think about learning more about a topic, improving one’s competence, or doing better than before. Self-reward suggests that students would rely on an externally provided reward to sustain motivation. The strategy of negative-based incentive suggests that students think about negative consequences of poor performance or negative-based incentives to prompt themselves to keep studying hard. Task-value enhancement suggests that students try to sustain or increase their motivation by thinking about the value of their English course and its importance for their future. Volitional control in the present study includes environmental control and emotion control.
Environmental control includes students’ efforts to concentrate attention and to reduce distractions in the environment to make their study not be disturbed. Emotion control presents students’ efforts to manage their emotion for completing a task. Self-efficacy enhancement means that students try to increase their motivation by engaging in thoughts or subvocal statements aimed at influencing their efficacy for an ongoing academic task.
Overall, the findings show that Chinese college students tried to regulate their motivation by using a variety of strategies so that they could make continued efforts to work on the English learning tasks when they encountered motivational problems. The results of the present study are in line with the findings of previous research (Cherng, 2002; Li, Xue, & Han, 2006; McCann & Garcia, 1999; Wolters, 1998) and also provide evidence that Chinese EFL college students not only monitor and regulate their cognition but also monitor and regulate their motivation for completing the English learning tasks. Meanwhile, the findings support the belief that motivational regulation should be an important aspect of FL learning and involved in the models of self-regulated language learning.