Factors affecting the motivation of TEFL academics in higher education in China

Ma, Wenying (2012) Factors affecting the motivation of TEFL academics in higher education in China. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This study investigates the motivation of English language lecturers in a Chinese university. Recent studies have shown that low morale and job dissatisfaction are significant problems identified in lecturers who teach English in universities in China. Given the importance of teaching English as a second language in China, this problem has potentially significant ramifications for the nation’s future. Low staff morale is likely to be associated with less effective teaching and poor student learning outcomes. Although the problem is acknowledged, there has been limited research to understand the underlying contributing factors. To address this, a sequential explanatory mixed methods approach was adopted and implemented in two phases at a large regional university in Northern China. The participants in the main study were 100 lecturers from two colleges at this university. All of the lecturers were responsible for teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL); 50 were teaching English majors and 50 were teaching university students whose majors were not English. The research was informed by a synthesis of self determination theory and theories of organisational culture. The study found: 1) in contrast to previously reported studies, lecturers in this institution were in general autonomously motivated in teaching. 2) However, their level of motivation was influenced by their personal experiences and varied sense of competence, relatedness and autonomy. 3) In particular, personal experiences and contextual factors such as the influence of Chinese culture, societal context, and organisational climate were significant in regulating lecturers’ motivation to teach. The findings are significant for leaders in higher education who need to implement policies that foster effective work environments. The study has also provided insights into the capacity of self determination theory to explain motivation in a Chinese culture.

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ID Code: 54742
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Watters, James J., Dooley, Karen T., & Mercer, Kay
Keywords: tefl academics, teacher motivation, higher education, china, self determination theory, competing values theory, job satisfaction, wellbeing
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 12 Nov 2012 04:54
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 11:08

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