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In order to illustrate group attitudes to studying English and the sense of agency, the following calculations were done using Microsoft Excel 

  1. An average score for each item on the questionnaire was calculated for each class and for the whole group (appendix iii)
  2. A mean for each of the 18 questionnaire subscales was worked out for each class and for the whole group (appendix iv) 
  3. A two tail t-test was calculated to compare the two classes (figure 3 page 8)
Based on the mean for each subscale for the whole group, the high and low scoring subscales were identified (figures 1 and 2).  

High and low scoring subscales 

The high and low scoring subscales are shown in the tables below. The highest scoring subscales, desire and need are from part one of the questionnaire. The only subscales with a mean of 3 or above in part two of the questionnaire are result of effort, effort, metacognitive awareness and internal locus: responsibility. The two markedly lower subscales for parts one and two of the questionnaire are challenge and perceived ability respectably.  

Part 1 – attitude to learning a language Mean
Desire 3.93
Need 3.92
Part 2 – sense of agency Mean
Result of effort 3.23
Effort 3.05
Metacognitive awareness 3.03
Internal locus: responibility 3.01
Figure 1 - High scoring subscales across the whole group


Part 1 – attitude to learning a language Mean
Challenge, optimal arousal 2.97
Part 2 – sense of agency Mean
Perceived ability – self-efficacy 2.69
Figure 2 - Low scoring subscales across the whole group


High scoring subscales 



The area which students rated the highest was desire. The mean score for the whole group for this subscale was 3.93.  

A high proportion of respondents stated that they wanted to be successful in English but they were not required to give a reason for this on the questionnaire. Looking at the data collected from the oral interview, the following reasons were given: 

To be able to deal with other people (1 respondent) 

To be as good as / better than friends in another college (1 respondent) 

In most cases, however, the interviewees could offer no particular reason for the statement. 

Need, Importance 

Need, importance was also identified as being a chief motivating factor for the subjects with a mean of 3.92. 

A high proportion of respondents claimed that English was extremely important for them and that the need was great. They were not required to give reasons for this on the questionnaire. The five students interviewed gave the following reasons for their need for English: 

  1. In order to get a job / for work (4 respondents)
  2. For myself (1 respondent)
  3. English is an international / important language (3 respondents)
  4. For travel – for emergencies (1 respondent)
  5. To read newspapers (1 respondent)
  6. To meet / talk to foreign people (2 respondents) 

Result of effort – learned helplessness 

Another high scoring area in part 2 of the questionnaire was result of effort with a mean of 3.32. Students appeared to believe that there was a correlation between hard work and results in a language.  

Students interviewed were asked “Would you be better at English if you tried harder?” Four of the students answered yes. The fifth answered no and was identified as having learned helplessness. 


Another high scoring subscale on part 2 of the questionnaire was for effort with a mean of 3.05.  

It is interesting to note again at this stage that out of the two groups, just under half were failing the course and receiving low test and project grades. The questionnaire revealed that participants claimed that working hard would ensure success in English (result of effort subscale). The students claimed on the questionnaire that they were working hard in English. I asked the five interviewees whether they were working hard in English and got the following responses: 

I spend a lot of time on projects 
I don’t work hard 
Not harder than Arabic 
Quite hard. I spend a lot of time doing English at home. 
Same as the other classes. 
No. Not in English. 
In class no because my personality is shy. 
I try but I don’t know
 These results appear to contradict the data collected with the questionnaires possibly because the respondents did not want to admit on paper that they do not always try their hardest. 

Internal locus: responsibility 

The subscale of internal locus: responsibility had a mean of 3.01.  

I asked the students during the interviews “whose fault is it when you do badly?” and received the following responses: 

My fault (3 respondents)  
If I didn’t study, I fail (1 respondent) 
Maybe me (1 respondent) 
It depends – sometimes it is because I don’t understand the question (1 respondent) 
The exams are too difficult – more than our level (1 respondent)
These statements appear to back up the data collected with the questionnaires. Students appeared to attribute failure to internal factors - lack of effort or ability. Only one of the interviewees implied that it was not her fault and externalized the fault – being due to the exams being too difficult or the questions too confusing. This student scored a mean of 3 for this subscale on the questionnaire. She also scored highly on the perceived ability subscale – a mean of 3.75. 

Metacognitive awareness 

This subscale produced a mean of 3.03.  

Respondents claimed to know the reason for success or failure. The questionnaire did not elicit the reasons for this but the interviews probed a little more. When asked “Before you get a test back, do you know what the results will be?” and “When you get things wrong, do you know why?”, the following responses were given: 


No, it’s a surprise  
I know what the problem is – grammar and spelling
Zara  Yes, sometimes I guess correctly. I have been wrong 2 times. 
I know what the problem is usually – I write the corrects answers first time then change my mind
Ahlam  I know what the mark will be – I know I would do something wrong in reading Elham  Sometimes I guess and I am right. Sometimes I wrong. 
I find sometimes I don’t know why I get things wrong. 

I don’t read all the question carefully because I am afraid of the time

Nada  If I do good in exam I know but it’s usually a surprise 
I know what the problem is because the teacher marks it  
If I focus, I see what is wrong 
Some of the responses are conflicting. While conducting the interviews I was under the impression that some of the subjects had never really considered this question in detail before. For example in Khaseibah’s response we can detect that initially she had no idea why she did badly or well. After some thought, she identified a very general problem. Zara and Elham identify ineffective test-taking strategies as the 

*the names have been changed 

reason for doing badly. Ahlam seemed to know her area of weakness but Nada is in the habit of relying on a teacher to identify the mistakes. After some thought, however, she acknowledges that if she focuses, she can see what is wrong on her own.  

Low scoring subscales 

The lowest scoring subscales were challenge, optimal arousal and perceived ability, self-efficacy. 

Challenge, optimal arousal 

A low mean of 2.97 was calculated from the questionnaire data for Challenge, optimal arousal.  

To illustrate this further, here are some of the responses to the question “Do you think English is too easy or too difficult? Are the lessons challenging enough?”: 

It’s not difficult. 
I’m in the middle of the class. 
It follows the level. 
We have to work hard, easy in projects. 
It’s easy but the projects are more than our level.  
The classwork is not too easy. 
I have to think. 
If the student were happy about the level of the class, the final two questions on the questionnaire would prompt a low score which I feel is the chief reason for such a low score received. The five students interviewed were further questioned on this issue. Overall the interviewees responded that the level of the class was right for them in class – sometimes easy and that the projects were challenging. In other words, students were sufficiently challenged in their English classes and the low score isdue to an unreliable test for the subscale. 

One other possible contributing factor to the low scores received is the common belief among the students in this context that difficult/challenging = bad, and easy = good. Their experience with evaluating the optimal conditions for learning may not be sufficiently developed to see the value of a challenging exercise. Alternatively, not all students experience challenge as prerequisite for learning, but rather as an obstacle which encourages them to give up. 

Perceived ability, self efficacy 

The subscale which produced the lowest mean out of the entire study was perceived ability, self efficacy with a mean of 2.69. 

The students claimed that they were not good at English. Just under half were aware that they were likely to fail in the approaching finals, and this low score could be a reflection of that. When asked “are you good at English”, the following statements were collected: 

I’m not bad 
No because when I do a conversation and exam, the marks are not good 
Yes, I like to learn it 
I don’t know. It is a question for the teacher 
I think so yes. It would be better if I tried 

Comparison of the two groups 

A t-test was conducted to identify significant differences between the sub-scales. The results are shown in figure 3. 

General observations 

There was a significant difference in the means of the subscales between the two groups in 7 out of 18 cases. In 6 cases section 3, the less able students, scored higher. The table below shows the differences. 

Mean for section 3 (less able students)
Mean for section 4 (more able students)
Part 1 Attitude to learning a language
Challenge, optimal arousal 3.09 2.84 1.65 n.s. 126
Liking, enjoyment, interest 3.35 3.29 0.5 n.s. 126
Desire 3.98 3.87 1.75 n.s. 70
Need, importance 3.93 3.91 0.38 n.s. 130
Integrative orientation 3.57 3.4 1.2 n.s. 124
Teacher 3.62 3.4 1.8 n.s. 128
Parents 3.75 3.52 2.05 <0.05 116
Group 3.44 3.13 2.63 <0.01 126
Part 2 Sense of agency
Perceived success, competence 2.87 2.92 -0.46 n.s. 131
Perceived ability, self-efficacy 2.69 2.68 0.1 n.s. 130
Effort 3.21 2.89 1.98 <0.05 129
Result of effort, learned helplessness 3.3 3.34 -0.29 n.s. 128
Metacognitive awareness 3.08 2.97 0.77 n.s. 126
Awareness of strategies 2.97 2.55 3.04 <0.01 129
Internal locus: responsibility 3.21 2.8 2.77 <0.01 129
Internal locus: control 2.67 2.8 -0.8 n.s. 126
Metacognitive strategies 3.06 2.73 2.52 <0.01 125
Intrinsic motivation 2.58 2.98 -1.99 <0.05 126
Figure 3: Differences between section 3 and section 4 students using t-test

The means calculated for section 3 are significantly higher than those for section 4 in 6 subscales at a level of significance of <0.05. These were: parents, group, effort, awareness of strategies, internal locus: responsibility and metacognitive strategies. 

There was one subscale which scored significantly higher with section 4. This was intrinsic motivation. 

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