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The effects of integrating goal setting and reading strategy instruction on English reading proficiency and learning motivation: A quasi-experimental study

Ying-Chun Shih and Barry Lee Reynolds


An English as a Foreign Language (EFL) reading class was transformed by integrating goal setting with reading strategy instruction for one academic year. This intervention class was compared to a traditionally taught class to determine whether any differences in terms of motivation towards learning English and reading proficiency would be found. The goals set by the intervention class were analyzed to determine (1) whether they were met and (2) what actions were performed to reach those goals. In addition, it was further investigated whether adolescent Taiwanese students are willing to be taught English reading using an approach incorporating goal setting and reading strategy instruction. Results indicate that goal setting integrated reading strategy instruction seems to be more effective in increasing reading proficiency and learner motivation than the traditional approach as well as encouraging learner autonomy and self-efficacy. Analysis of the actions performed by the intervention group to meet goals revealed two sub-groups of learners: static action students and dynamic action students. Data analysis further indicated the actions performed by dynamic action students consisted of more diverse and concrete learning strategies whereas static action students performed mostly classroom-centered review. Pedagogical implications of the results and future research directions are discussed.


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Appendix A. English learning motivation questionnaire

Motivational intensity

  1. 1.

    If English was not taught in school, I would try to obtain lessons in English somewhere else.

  2. 2.

    When it comes to English homework, I just skim over it.

  3. 3.

    Considering how I studied English, I can honestly say that I do just enough to get along.

  4. 4.

    If my teacher wants someone to do an extra English assignment, I would definitely not volunteer.

  5. 5.

    After I get my English assignment/tests back, I always rewrite them, correcting my mistakes.

  6. 6.

    I try to use English in my daily life.

  7. 7.

    I plan to continue studying English for as long as possible.

  8. 8.

    I look for as many opportunities to use English as I can.

  9. 9.

    I try to learn English not only in the classroom but also from other sources such as radio, English TV programs, newspapers, magazines and movies.

  10. 10.

    I spend extra time to improve my English.

    Intrinsic motivation

  11. 11.

    I enjoy learning English very much.

  12. 12.

    Learning English is a hobby for me.

  13. 13.

    Learning English is a challenge that I enjoy.

  14. 14.

    I don’t enjoy learning English, but I know that learning English is important for me.

  15. 15.

    It gives me great pleasure to learn English.

    Extrinsic motivation

  16. 16.

    I want to learn English because it will broaden my view.

  17. 17.

    I want to do well in English class because it is important to show my ability to my family/friends/supervisors/others.

  18. 18.

    I learn English because I think everybody in Taiwan should be able to speak some English.

  19. 19.

    Being able to speak English will add to my social status.

  20. 20.

    I want to learn English because it is useful when traveling in other countries.

  21. 21.

    One reason I learn English is that I can meet new people and make friends with foreigners.

  22. 22.

    I am learning English to become more educated.

  23. 23.

    I want to learn English because I need to be able to read textbooks in English.

  24. 24.

    If I learn English better, I will be able to get a better job.

  25. 25.

    I want to learn English because increasing my English proficiency will have financial benefits for me.

  26. 26.

    If I can speak English, I will have a marvelous life.

  27. 27.

    Learning English will help me understand western culture.

  28. 28.

    I want to learn English because it is helpful in using the internet or the computer.

  29. 29.

    I learn English because I want to enter a good university.

    Required motivation

  30. 30.

    I learn English because it helps me to pass the entrance exam.

  31. 31.

    If there were no assignments or tests, I would not learn English at all.

  32. 32.

    To avoid being failed, I study English.

  33. 33.

    I take English classes because it is required.

  34. 34.

    I wouldn’t study English at all if the teacher did not ask us to.

  35. 35.

    The reason that I study English is to pass examinations.

Appendix B. Goal-oriented checklist

Student ID Number: ____________ Name: ____________

My English mid-term exam score goal is: _______.

My English final exam score goal is: _______.

Specify three actions to attain your goals:

9 Mid-Term Exam
18 Final Exam

  1. Note: Please self-regulate the level of effort you have expended each week. Do this by rating the effort expended in performing the three actions (1=low effort; 10=high effort).

Appendix C. Actions performed by static and dynamic action students

Actions performed by static action students

Actions performed by static action studentsAction number total
Memorize vocabulary words27
Review class material16
Pay attention during class12
Preview class material9
Read English9
Study class content4
Watch English movies3
Read English magazines3
Take class notes3
Listen to English3
Speak English2
Listen to English songs2
Write English2
Use free time to memorize vocabulary words1
Read either English textbook, articles, or song lyrics1
Look up unknown words from the textbook1
Take a reading test twice a day1

  1. Note: Total for actions was calculated by multiplying the number of actions per student (3) by total number of students (33).

Actions performed by dynamic action students

Pay attention in class
Memorize vocabulary words
Review class material
Review class vocabulary
Listen to English songs
Ask questions about English
Review vocabulary
Watch English movies
Lookup words in a dictionary
Ask my classmates questions about English
Look up a word’s inflected and derived forms
Read English sentences
Take class notes
Review mistakes on my quizzes
Read English magazines
Preview class material
Practice specific exercises from textbook
Take self-created vocabulary exam
Memorize inflected and derived forms of class vocabulary
Preview vocabulary
Read a book about the GEPT
Review English phrases
Write English sentences
Write about an English topic
Review mistakes on my exams
Watch English news
Study verb inflections
Highlight important content in class materials
Organize new vocabulary into lists and groups
Published Online: 2018-3-3
Published in Print: 2018-3-26

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