To learn effectively, students have to self-regulate their cognition, motivation, and behavior. Despite the importance ofall the three aspects ofself-reg- ulation, most of the research into self-regulation has focused on the nature and function of the cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies. Motivational regulation is still a little-investigated aspect of SRL. Motivational regulation is believed to have an impact on academic learning. Previous studies have provided evidence to support this belief. However, the evidence linking motivational regulation with academic achievement is still weak; the previous studies did not find strong relations between motivational regulation and academic achievement.
According to the findings of the present study, Chinese college students used a variety of strategies to regulate their motivation to keep working on English-learning tasks when they did not feel like studying. Further, the present study found that motivational regulation was related to other aspects of self-regulated language learning, including motivational beliefs and cognitive engagement. This study also revealed that the students who regulated their motivation achieved better grades than students who failed to self-regulate their motivation. Therefore, the present study provides the evidence for the belief that motivational regulation is an important aspect of SRL and influences the academic learning process and achievement.
We have also come to the belief that motivational regulation should have special significance for FL learning. We assume that motivational regulation is important for FL learners by affecting the FL learning process and achievement. The present study has made an initial attempt to explore the motivational regulation of FL learners. In general, the findings of the present study support the belief that motivational regulation is an important process in FL learning and has a great impact on the FL learning process and achievement. Therefore, this study makes an important contribution to FL learning research by exploring motivational regulation of Chinese EFL college students.
The present study also provides a new perspective for understanding the question “how is it that some people can learn a second or FL so easily and do well while others, given what seem to be the same opportunities to learn, find it almost impossible?” (Gardner & Lambert, 1972, p.130). The previous studies in SLA have examined many factors affecting L2 learning, such as motivation, language-learning strategies, and language-learning beliefs. However, none of the studies on factors affecting L2 learning directed attention to students’ ability to regulate their motivation. In light of the findings of this study, motivational regulation is related to motivational variables, language-learning strategies, and English achievement, which indicates that motivational regulation is one of the factors contributing the different outcomes of EFL learning. Therefore, the present study has shed some light on the understanding the individual differences in EFL learning.