Exploring Student Teachers' Motivation Change in Initial Teacher Education: A Chinese Perspective

January, 2017

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 61 (2017) 142-152
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study explores 10 pre-service English foreign language (EFL) teachers' motivation change in a Government-funded Normal Program in China.

The participants were 10 student teachers, nine female and one male, native Chinese, came from different provinces of China.
The study was conducted in in the fourth year of the program of a pre-service language teacher education program in X University in Beijing, China.
Data were collected through participants' personal reflections, focus group interviews, and individual interviews.

The findings reveal that the participants’ motivations experienced ups and downs in the process of learning to teach, which ultimately led to their enhanced intrinsic motivations towards teaching.
The authors found that some participants believed the policy took away a sense of autonomy and freedom they valued and desired in a teaching career, thus resulting in a loss of motivations to teach. 

The authors also found that the participants’ motivations experienced changes due to their continuous participation and engagement in the language teacher education coursework. For example, the participants deepened their knowledge about language teaching and learning in relation to their future work contexts when they engaged in dialogic mediation with teacher educators and other student teachers.

Further, the pre-service teachers' engagement with their peers and the teacher educators in the coursework facilitated their cognitive learning with positive influences on their self-efficacy and also brought them a sense of social connectedness, which together contributed to their motivational development.
The findings showed that pre-service teachers' motivation change is not entirely a freedom of individual choices, but it results from the ongoing interactions and negotiations between student teachers' self-efficacy, outcome expectations as well as the professional autonomy and social support afforded by their situated institutional and socio-cultural contexts.

Implications and conclusion
This study has several implications for educational leaders and teacher educators in both general education and language teacher education.
The authors suggest that policy makers and educational leaders need to be cautious in formulating and implementing teacher education policies, which need to be aligned with a coherent and sound pre-service teacher education program in order to cater to student teachers' personal interests and professional needs and maintain and enhance their teaching motivations. 

Furthermore, the authors argue that language teacher educators need to promote student teachers' self-efficacy by helping them construct their practical knowledge in relation to the realities of language teaching and construct their reflective capacity through different self-regulated learning activities, such as reflective discussion and journal writing.

The authors conclude that this study has shown how student teachers' motivations were shaped by the pre-service teacher education program they had taken, the mini-context in which they completed the teaching practicum, and the larger socio-cultural environment.

Updated: May. 16, 2018