learning، goals، success
engaging in an activity. Dörnyei (2001b) goes in line with Scheidecker and Freeman’s (1999) conclusions about the importance of explaining the purpose of learning tasks to students prior to commencing to perform these tasks; he asserts that performing any learning task should be proceeded by communicating good reasons to students as to why a particular task is meaningful or important. The author suggests that when students become better aware of the value and importance of the task in which they are involved or are going to be involved, this will affect the way they value this task. Pintrich and Groot (1990) argue that the question that a student usually ask him/herself –Why am I doing this task? –concerns the value component of student’s motivation. They propose that students with a motivational orientation involving goals of mastery, learning, and challenge, as well as beliefs that the task is interesting and important, will engage in more metacognitive activity, more cognitive strategy use, and more effective effort management.
Preparing students sufficiently before taking learning tasks is hence a vital strategy for promoting their expectancy of success. Dörnyei (2001b) believes that students are perceived to feel and achieve success if well prepared for learning tasks. In this preparation, the teacher can outline the goals of the task and its expected outcomes in addition to some ways on how to carry it out. He proposes that pre-task activities have become typical features in modern language teaching methodologies and such tasks usually increase success potentiality.
Another useful way to enhance students’ expectancy of success is by making the criteria of success public and clear to them. Wlodkowski (1986) has proposed that when the criteria of success is public and clear, students have a road map to success and can self-evaluate their learning as they proceed. Dörnyei (2001b) suggests that these criteria need to be obvious to students from the beginning if they are to know which elements of their performance and production are essential. One criterion for evaluating success is the ways teachers assess their students’ achievements (e.g. using tests). Wlodkowski (1999) argues that in the view of most adult learners, how they are assessed will play a crucial role in their expectation for success. He adds that using grades and quantitative scores to assess students can powerfully influence some aspects of their intrinsic motivation like self-determination and the sense of self-worth in addition to some pragmatic orientations like access to careers and future education. It is then essential to set criteria of assessment to which all students agree and also consider as clear and fair at the same time. Wiggins (1993) claimed that such criteria will allow students to self-assess and self-determine their learning more easily as they proceed. This may enhance their motivation as they can anticipate the results of their learning and regulate how they learn with more certainty (Wlodkowski, 1999). Another criterion to measure success is through the completion of academic tasks. This can be attained by specifying the requirements for completing each task to students. Good and Brophy (2000) indicate that when the teacher provides specific and complete descriptions of task requirements, students will know what is expected from them and this will increase their expectancy for success in the task.
Raising the students’ expectations of the tasks outcomes is also an important strategy for enhancing their expectancy of success. Burden (2000) has proposed that one successful way to raise students’ expectancy of success is through providing them with encouraging information about future outcomes of tasks and those teachers should call their students attention to the optimistic outcomes of tasks rather than the potential difficulty they may experience in executing these tasks.
22.214.171.124. Promoting Learners’ Positive Goals (Goal-Orientedness) and Realistic Beliefs
Many previous studies stress the importance of promoting learners’ goal-orientedness and realistic beliefs so as to generate their initial motivation for learning English (e.g. Hadfield, 1992; Alison, 1993; Raffini, 1993; Oxford & Sherian, 1994; Wlodkowski, 1999; Dörnyei, 2001a, 2001b). Dörnyei (2001a, p. 125) has defined goal-orientedness as “the extent to which the group is attuned to pursuing its official goal.” Hadfield (1992) has highlighted the significance of enhancing learners’ goal-orientedness by declaring that it is fundamental for a group to work successfully to have a sense of direction and common purpose. Dörnyei (2001b) asserts that research has repeatedly found that in an ordinary classroom many, if not most, students do not understand or accept why they are involved in a learning activity. He adds that the official class goal set by external factors, such as a teacher or curriculum makers, may not be the only group goal or even not the group goal at all. Goal ambiguity and goal conflict reveals the need for an agreement on a specific common goal for learning. Dörnyei (2001b) clarifies that teachers would win half the motivation battle if the class group can agree on a common purpose and sense of direction. Dörnyei recommends setting a composite group goal that comprises individual goals (e.g. passing exams, having fun, etc.) in addition to institutional constrains (i.e. the fixed course syllabus), and success criteria (task completion, marks, etc.).
Goal-setting has been found to be a powerful way to enhance students’ goal-orientedness and consequently their motivation to learn. Wlodkowski (1999) proposes that goalsetting increases learners’ expectancy of success and their self-efficacy. He argues that this approach allows learners to become aware of what they need in order to succeed and to evaluate and plan to avoid the obstacles that may prevent success. Raffini (1993) claimed that goal-setting strategies help students to experience the sense of autonomy and self-determination. He adds that these strategies allow students to establish individual performance standards based on their own current skill and achievement levels, which makes it possible for concentrated effort to lead to genuine feelings of success. These strategies can be practically useful in the field of L2 even with reluctant and demotivated students who have no reasonable goals associated with language learning (Alison, 1993).
One useful way in setting learning goals is to help students pursue specific and short-term goals for completing tasks and to avoid the contrary situation (i.e. pursuing vague and general goals). Dörnyei (2001b) states that setting specific and short-term goals is of particular importance in learning a subject such as an L2 where acquiring a minimum knowledge may take several years. He proposes that goal-setting allows teachers to look at the tasks from the learners’ point of view and create an immediate learning goal that is valid in their eyes. Oxford and Sherian (1994) also emphasises the significance of goal-setting in learning an L2 by stating that “goal setting can have exceptional importance in stimulating L2 learning motivation, and it is therefore shocking that so little time and energy are spent in the L2 classroom on goal setting”( p. 19). Encouraging students to set clear, short-term, and realistic learning goals for themselves, negotiating learning goals with students and outlining a specific class goal for learning English in collaboration with them, and displaying the class goal on a wall chart and reviewing it regularly have been found to be useful techniques in setting learning goals.
Goal setting is also a useful way that allows students to develop realistic beliefs and expectations about learning (Wlodkowski, 1999). Dörnyei (2001b) has mentioned that the endless list of incorrect beliefs that most learners have about learning an L2 (e.g. how much progress to expect and how fast one can master an L2) can become real barriers to the mastery of the l
anguage. Dörnyei,(2001b) on the other hand, asserts that false learners’ beliefs can function as ‘time bombs’ at the beginning of a language course and recommends they be sorted out and tackled early in the course. Some of the suggestions Dörnyei’s (2001b) offers include explaining to students the difficulty of language learning, the realistic rate of progress students can expect, what is required from a learner to be successful, and some ways by which languages are best learned (e.g. how to achieve the language learning goals with the skills and knowledge at hand).
126.96.36.199. Relating Language Learning to Learners’ Needs and Goals
This is another important strategy for generating students’ initial motivation. Keller (1983) has defined relevance as “the students’ perception that instruction is related to personal needs or goals.” Keller argues that helping students understand that the subject content is related to their personal needs or goals is an important way that arouses their curiosity and sustains their interest and would be in turn the first step in motivating them to learn. Burden (2000) stated that the content of subject will be more relevant to students if the teacher relates it to the students’ personal experiences, needs and to prior knowledge.
Dörnyei (2001b) states that one of the most demotivating factors for learners is when they have to learn something that they see as of no relevance to their lives. He points out that much of the motivational advice offered to teachers in the educational literature concerns this general principal consists of the suggestion to “find out what your students’ goals are and what topics they want to learn about, then build these into your curriculum as much as possible,” (p. 63). Dörnyei, (2001b), however, indicates that the ready-made curriculum provided to students at schools and the special emphasis on achievement standards in