To explore the motivational regulation of Chinese EFL college students, a mixed quantitative and qualitative method was employed. The instrument used in the quantitative survey study was a questionnaire, which required the subjects to respond on the motivational-regulation strategies, language-learning strategies, and motivational beliefs of English- learning goal orientations and English self-efficacy. The questionnaire items concerning motivational regulation were based on a combination of the theoretical input in the related literature with the first-hand information from a preliminary study and the items about language-learning strategies and motivational beliefs were designed according to the related instruments in literature and the characteristics of English learning. Results from this study suggest that the survey instrument has proved to be effective for identifying the types of motivational-regulation strategies the subjects used and the general trends in using these strategies, as well as for examining the role of motivational regulation in EFL learning.
To get a clearer picture on the differences between high and low English achievers in motivational regulation and to supplement the survey study, a follow-up qualitative case study was conducted. The case study used the data from interviews and diaries to provide a clearer picture of the problems under study. The case study revealed quantitative and qualitative differences in motivational regulation between high and low achievers. The results confirmed and complemented the findings of the survey study and revealed how essential motivational regulation is to FL learning and achievement.
In general, the present study highlights that both quantitative and qualitative methods are necessary if the researcher aims to “develop multifaceted insights that are broadly applicable and rich in observed detail” (Green & Oxford, 1995) because each of the methods has its advantages and disadvantages. Quantitative and qualitative methods should be viewed as complementary rather than competing paradigms. Both perspectives can add greatly to our understanding of students’ language learning psychology, and behavior. A mixed quantitative and qualitative approach can give us a clearer picture of patterns and processes of students’ FL learning.