Exploring Japanese University EFL Teacher Motivation

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Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics 18(1), 121-143Exploring Japanese University EFL Teacher MotivationRie TsutsumiHiroshima UniversityTsutsumi, Rie. (2014). Exploring Japanese university EFL teachermotivation. Journal of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics,18 (1), 121-143.Current studies show that it is becoming clear that language teachersgive significant importance to learners' motivation level, interest levels,and attitudes toward their learning. Motivated teachers can have apowerful influence on students' career directions, and positively impactlearners’ motivations and interests. However, not many studies havebeen conducted on teachers' motivation. This teachers’ motivationresearch focuses on teachers’ career history, job satisfaction levels, andwhat university English teachers value in their teaching jobs. In thisstudy, the researcher is attempting to explore factors which enhance andaffect university English teachers’ motivation in detail. It investigatesteacher motivation through quantitative research utilizing questionnaireswith six Likert scale questions to explore what teachers experience on adaily basis and throughout their teaching career, both inside and outsideof their classrooms. It was found that Japanese university EFL teacherstend to seek intrinsic needs and wants such as autonomy, self-growth,and seeing students’ growth through daily interaction in English classes.The results suggest that inner psychological aspects of motivation can bea powerful source of motivation. At the same time, they seek jobsecurity most among many extrinsic factors. It implies that workingconditions, especially hiring conditions regarding the contract, such aswhether they are hired as part time or full time, tenured or contract,dynamically affect teachers’ motivation when seeing their career as alifelong career in their profession.Key Words: teacher motivation, language teaching and learning, tertiaryeducation1 IntroductionMotivation is one of the most popular areas of research in the TESOL fields;however, most of the studies have a focus on learners’ motivation. Comparedwith studies on learner motivation, the number of teacher motivation studiesis quite limited. Besides, most of the previous studies on teacher motivationfocused on teachers’ job satisfaction, stress, and burnout (Evans, 1998;Dinham & Scott, 2000; Zhang & Sapp, 2008). Since English teachers’motivation in a Japanese context is an understudied and under-theorized area,the researcher decided to investigate teachers’ motivation at tertiary educationin Japan. The objective of this study is to identify what motivates Japanese121C 2014 PAAL 1345-8353/00

Rie TsutsumiEFL teachers in the academic workplace. By conducting this questionnairestudy on teacher motivation, the researcher hopes to facilitate awareness ofEFL teachers’ mental processes at work and make a positive contribution toteachers’ education by gaining understanding and insights about teachers’lives and voices in higher education in Japan, particularly with regard toindividuals who aim to be teachers and novice teachers as well as currentteachers.2 Literature Reviews2.1 Background of teacher motivationTeacher motivation study is gradually receiving attention in TESOL andapplied linguistics fields nowadays, especially in educational psychology andteacher education. According to Dornyei and Ushioda (2011), teachingmotivation studies broadly can be categorized into three areas includingissues concerning career choice among teachers, complexities during theteaching process, and important factors that impact the development ofteachers and their students. Although the number of studies on teachermotivation is limited to the TESOL and applied linguistics fields, diversestudies on work motivation in general exist in organization psychology. Sincethis teacher motivation study can be called a work motivation study for theEFL teacher, mentioning the definition of work motivation can give somehint on this particular topic.Current major studies on teacher motivation have been conducted onparticular topics as follows. Dornyei and Ushioda (2011) suggest that teachermotivation can be divided into three categories including issues concerningcareer choices as teachers, complexities of teaching process, and significantinfluence and relationship between teachers and students. They also clarifythat there are four basic aspects of teacher motivation based on findings frompast literature reviews. First, intrinsic components exist as a main source ofteacher motivation. Secondly, teacher motivation is often associated withfactors directly related with institutional and social aspects at work in theprofession. Third, teacher motivation studies related to extended andlong-term often life-long career as well as other career motivation study.Therefore, it often involves career structure and promotion throughout acareer. Finally, teacher motivation is fragile and teachers are exposed tovarious negative aspects and this is related to the nature of one's job as ateacher.2.2 Intrinsic motivation on teacher motivationAs mentioned above, the significance of intrinsic motivation on teachermotivation is emphasized in teacher motivation investigation. Deci and Ryan122

Exploring Japanese University EFL Teacher Motivation(1985) explained intrinsic motivation by categorizing it into three kindsincluding autonomy, relatedness, and competence. In this definition,autonomy means to have freedom to do, relatedness means to feel related toothers and psychological closeness to the others, and competence means tofeel that he/she can have competence and as a result feel a sense ofachievement.On teacher motivation study, competence means teachers’self-efficacy which means a belief if the teacher can have a positive influenceon students’ learning including skills, attitudes, and motivation. He dividedteachers’ self-efficacy into two hierarchical structures. The first segment ofthe teachers’ self-efficacy is teaching efficacy which has a practical side ofteaching for teachers. Another segment of teachers’ self-efficacy is personalefficacy which is related to evaluation of how much positive influenceteachers can give toward education when we see the teacher from a personallevel.Deci and Ryan (1985) proposed three basic human needs related tointrinsically motivated behavior as follows. It includes autonomy (i.e.experiencing oneself as the origin of one’s behavior), relatedness (i.e. feelingclose to and connected to other individuals), and competence (i.e. feelingefficacious and having a sense of accomplishment).Moreover, Hackman (1991) emphasized the importance of intrinsicmotivation on work motivation from a view of organizational psychology. Hedefines specific conditions for what kind of situations a human can bemotivated to work. The first condition was if the work is meaningfulness. It isthe case when a variety of skills is required and the activity is related tohis/her area of interest. Also the task being of significant importance, not onlyto oneself but also to others, is a necessary condition to be motivated.Secondly, is when it allows autonomy and the potential competence tomaximize ability at work. For instance, it includes having control over whenand how the work can be accomplished by the workers. Third, to receivespecific feedback about how well the work has been done.Furthermore, Csikszentmihalyi (1997) suggested that intrinsic aspectsof teacher motivation can be categorized into two different kinds ofmotivation. First, one set of intrinsic motivation is in the process of educationitself. For instance, it means that the case in which a teacher can see and feelstudents’ growth through daily interaction between the teacher and thestudents by actually seeing students’ performance and actions. The second setof intrinsic motivation is the motivation directly related to subject matter, inthis study, English. It includes seeking out new information on the area of thesubject and integrating the knowledge for further professional development.2.3 Extrinsic motivation on teacher motivationIn addition to intrinsic motivation, various studies highlight the prominent123

Rie Tsutsumirole that extrinsic motivation plays in overall teacher motivation (Porter,Bigley, & Steers, 2003; Walker & Symons, 1997). Additionally, Dinham &Scott (2000) found that more than half of the university English teachers inAustralia, England, and New Zealand experienced a decrease in satisfactionsince actually beginning teaching through survey research due to extrinsicaspects. In their study, they explained extrinsic aspects of motivation bydividing it into two different parts including micro level and macro level.They defined micro to include various aspects which influence teachers’satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work including school-specific cultures andrules such as class size, school resources, activities and structures that theycan utilize in class, relationships among universities, definition andexpectation toward teachers among colleagues and authorities, generalexpectations toward teaching students at the school, the system related tofeedback and reward, and the decision-making process. On the other hand,macro was defined as factors that are related to organizational and sociallevels at school such as status and image for teachers from variousviewpoints such as students’ parents, media, and politics in the society. Itoften includes many aspects which are uncontrollable for the teachersthemselves.2.4 Factors to empower teacher motivationMany studies show the importance of the intrinsic side of motivation asfactors to empower teacher motivation. To explore career choice as a teacher,Dinham and Scott (2000) conducted a large scale survey study with 2,000teachers in England, Australia, and New Zealand. It showed career choice asa teacher from intrinsic motivation can be a powerful source of motivation asteachers. Furthermore, Richard and Watt’s survey study with 1,653pre-service teachers in Australia (2006) showed that teachers with a highintrinsic value of teaching and desire tended to make a decision to work inthe teaching area as a way to make social contribution as the reason forchoosing teaching as career.On the other hand, from perspectives in organizational psychology,environment plays an important role in work motivation (Porter, Bigley, &Steers, 2003; Walker & Symons, 1997). Herzberg (1996) suggested,according to classic motivation hygiene theory, that extrinsic aspects ofmotivation have been considered as an aspect which causes dissatisfactionbut its absence does not significantly increase job satisfaction. However,Kassabgy, Boraie and Schmidt’s study (2001) failed to prove the theory onteacher motivation in a study with 108 ESL teachers in Hawaii and Egypt.Furthermore, Fives and Alexander (2004) conducted a meta-analysison teacher motivation and factor analysis on teacher motivation with 28empirical studies. In this study, it became clear that two sources of motivationcan be powerful sources to empower teacher motivation. The first source is124

Exploring Japanese University EFL Teacher Motivationteacher efficacy and another one is teacher commitment. They define teacherefficacy as teachers’ general belief about the possibility of producing studentlearning even when there are various kinds of obstacles to achieving the goalsat work. There are many aspects related to the concept, teachers’ autonomy,students’ skills and abilities, resources at educational institutions,collaboration among teachers, and school culture that shape a better learningenvironment, especially regarding education. Teacher commitment is deeplyrelated with the atmosphere of the educational institution, relationships withadministrators and management, the decision-making process at the school,characteristics of the students, and extrinsic factors such as geographicalfactors.2.5 Factors which affect teacher motivationAs demotivation factors in TESOL and applied linguistics fields, Dornyei andUshioda (2011) suggest the following five factors which appear to be mainfactors affecting teacher motivation including stress (Ehrman & Dornyei,1998; Kieschke & Schaarschmidt, 2008; Menzis, 1959; Pennington, 1995),restricted autonomy (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2009), insufficient self-efficacy(Alexnder, 2008; Deci & Ryan, 1985), lack of intellectual challenges(Pennington, 1995), and inadequate career structure (Pennington, 1995).Additionally, a recent study conducted by Fattash (2013) examineddemotivating factors for EFL teachers in one national university in Palestine.The study shows that the factors include unreasonable demands ofadministrators, discouraging team spirit, neglecting rewards, and financialproblems, and these demotivation factors lead to stress, teacher burnout, lackof interest, lack of accomplishment, emotional exhaustion, and dissatisfactionand as a result, affect their achievement.2.6 Relationship between teacher motivation and learner motivationCurrent studies show that motivated teachers can provide a lot more tolearners affecting the learners’ motivation, attitudes, and skill levels(Csikszentmihalyi, 1997; Day, 2004; Patrick, Hisley, & Kempler, 2000; Wild,Enzle & Hawkins, 1992). Furthermore, the interrelationship between teachermotivation and student motivation is becoming clearer (Martin, 2006;Pelletier, Seguin-Levesque, & Legault, 2002; Roth, Assor, Kanat-Maymon, &Kaplan, 2007). From these findings, it seems that there is a significantinfluence on the teacher and learner relationship. In Kiziltepe’s study (2008),it appeared to be clear that students can be the main motivating factor, and atthe same time, the most significant demotivation factor for university Englishteachers.Considering these findings from previous teacher motivation, theresearcher conducted this questionnaire study to investigate an overview of125

Rie TsutsumiJapanese EFL teacher motivation and what kind of factors empower andaffect teacher motivation.3 Purposes of the StudyThe motivation for conducting this teacher motivation research comes from abelief that English teachers' motivation dynamically influences learners’language acquisition regarding their motivation, performance, and attitudestoward their target language and culture. The aim of the study is to identifywhat motivates university English teachers at work considering the currentsituation which English teachers face in their daily work. To facilitateawareness of EFL teachers’ mental process at work in their profession, thisstudy will help to understand the overview of the English teaching career atuniversity. The researcher hopes to make a positive contribution to theteachers’ education for both novice teachers and experienced teachers byexploring specific factors which empower and affect teachers’ motivation andgain understanding and insight about teachers’ values and lives, focusing ontheir motivation. To explore these aspects of Japanese university Englishteachers’ motivation, the following set of research questions was developedin order to explore both the overall picture and the details of English teachers’motivation at tertiary education in Japan.1. How satisfied are the Japanese EFL teachers with their careers andjobs?2. What kinds of values do the Japanese EFL teachers have?3. With what aspects of their work are they satisfied or dissatisfied?4. What kinds of gaps exist between Japanese EFL teachers’ idealsand reality?5. What are the major factors to motivate Japanese EFL teachersthrough their teaching career?4 Methods4.1 ParticipantsTwelve Japanese current EFL teachers at university in Japan, 11 teachers atprivate university, and 1 teacher at prefectural university were included. Nineteach in Kanto, 2 in Kansai, and 1 in another area in Japan. Four maleteachers and 8 female teachers with ages ranging from 40 to 59 participatedin this questionnaire quantitative study. Their teaching experiences atuniversities vary from 3 to 32 years. The average number of years of teachingexperience at university was 11.5 years. Their educational background is asfollows, 7 teachers with MA and 5 teachers with PhD or EdD. As for theirspecialization, 10 teachers specialize in TESOL, 6 in applied linguistics, 2 in126

Exploring Japanese University EFL Teacher Motivationcommunication and 1 in education. One professor, 4 associate professors, 4full time lecturers, 3 part time lecturers participated in this study. The numberof classes taught per week ranged from 5 to 11. The average number ofclasses taught per week was 7.43. As for marital status, 6 teachers were singleand six teachers were married.4.2 MaterialsThe questionnaire was adapted and developed from a set of questions madeby Kassabgy, Boraie, and Schmidt (2001) since it was a relevantquestionnaire to investigate overall teachers' motivation and values and reallives in the profession. Subsequently, it was specifically modified toinvestigate the environment of Japanese EFL teachers at university in Japan,omitting unnecessary questions such as those dealing with students’ parentsbecause there is actually no need for most teachers to be involved in this area.The questionnaire consisted of the following sections including biographicaldata including gender, age, years of teaching experience, educationalbackground, specialization, position, teaching hours per week, hiringcondition, institution they work for, and marital status. Forty questionsregarding teachers values (6 Likert scale questions), 46 questions regardingreal teacher lives (6 Likert scale questions), and 2 open-ended questions. (SeeAppendix) The questionnaire was developed for use in this pilot study onteachers’ motivation study. Items in the Likert scale questions to exploreteachers’ values were measured by six-Likert scale questions (1: notimportant at all, 2: unimportant, 3: slightly unimportant, 4: slightly important,5: important, 6: very important). Items to explore teachers’ lives weremeasured (1: strongly disagree, 2: disagree, 3: slightly disagree, 4: slightlyagree, 5: agree, 6: strongly agree). These two open ended questions wereasked to the participants in order to investigate specific factors that haveimpact both positively and negatively on their teachers’ motivationthroughout their career.1) Please think of the university (universities) where you work and list themajor factors that have positive influence on your job.2) Please think of major factors that have negative influence on your job.4.3 ProceduresA set of questionnaires were administered at English teacher’s study group inthe middle of October 2013. It took approximately 10 to 15 minutes forparticipants to complete the questionnaires.4.4 Data analysis127

Rie TsutsumiThis study was carried out to investigate university EFL teachers’ motivationby focusing on their values and real-life experiences at work. Therefore, thedata on teachers’ detailed values and perspectives on teaching, satisfactionlevel on their career and daily work, and gaps between ideas and realties. Thecollected questionnaire data was analyzed as follows. The most importantvalues and least important values were analyzed as well as responsesregarding teachers’ lives from the highest score to the lowest. The results willbe analyzed by answering each research question particularly in attempt toexplore overall teachers’ expectations and the realities and conflictingrealities at work.In order to analyze the data, teachers’ motivation was categorized intotwo separate parts that is intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation (seeTable 1). Each intrinsic and extrinsic motivation category was categorizedinto smaller parts as following. Intrinsic motivation specifically includesautonomy, self- growth, affiliation, students (e.g. skills, attitudes, andmotivation), achievement, peace of mind/stimulation/ enjoyment, andfeedback (related to competence). Extrinsic motivatio

motivation is limited to the TESOL and applied linguistics fields, diverse studies on work motivation in general exist in organization psychology. Since this teacher motivation study can be called a work motivation study for the EFL teacher, mentioning the definition of work motiva