Motivating the "self-worth" motivated students to learn English

Ka Wo Benjamin LI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


This study is an attempt to examine the motivational characteristics of 60 Hong Kong Form 6 Science stream students in learning English and to find out to what extent attribution retraining, in this study the theme-based project work approach, can result in an increase in effort attribution in the ESL classroom. Based on a curriculum-based adaptation of procedures devised by Craske (1988), the subjects were categorized into one of the three motivational styles: learned helplessness, self-worth motivation and mastery orientation. The classification was done according to the ways in which the students responded to a perceived threat of failure on a language task. Attribution retraining in the form of project work was then assigned to the students. Data were collected regarding the students’ perception and whether they were motivated throughout their project process by means of questionnaires and interviews. A post-retaining language task was given to students to find out if there is any change in their ability ratings and performance. Findings show that no students belong to the learned helpless group. In the self-worth group, attribution retaining resulted in increased effort attributions but no change in ability ratings after failure, following retraining.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998


Li, B. (1998, December). Motivating the "self-worth" motivated students to learn English. Paper presented at the International Language in Education Conference 1998: The Curriculum: Issues in Teaching and Learning, Evaluation and Assessment, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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