Chinese University Students’ Motivation, Anxiety, Global Awareness, Linguistic Confidence, and English Test Performance: a Correlational and Causal Investigation

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Zheng, Ying
Chinese Learners , English Test Performance , College English Test (CET) , Structural Equation Modelling , Mixed Methods , Socio-Educational Model of Motivation , Test Anxiety , Language Anxiety , Global Awareness , Linguistic Confidence
This study examined motivation, anxiety, global awareness, and linguistic confidence, and their relation to language test performance within the context of Chinese university students taking the College English Test Band 4(CET-4) in China. Using a mixed methods approach, through survey and interview inquiries, this study explored whether and how the selected psychological factors contributed to students’ CET performance. Results from exploratory factor analysis revealed that Chinese university students displayed three types of instrumental motivation (i.e., mark orientation, further-education orientation, and job orientation), two types of anxiety (i.e., language anxiety and test anxiety), and two types of confidence (i.e., linguistic confidence and test confidence). The results of confirmatory factor analysis led to a modified socio-educational model of motivation with some context-specific concepts (i.e., new instrumental orientations, global awareness, and linguistic confidence) that more accurately represented the characteristics of the Chinese university students. The results of structural equation modelling confirmed that attitude toward the learning situation and integrative orientation were two strong indicators of motivation, which in turn influenced language achievement and confidence. The negative impact of anxiety on language achievement was confirmed. Certain group differences were found in comparing male students with female students, high achievers with low achievers, students from the Arts programs with those from the Science programs, and students who started to learn English before Grade 7 with those iii who did so after Grade 7. The interview findings indicated stronger instrumental orientations than integrative orientations. External influences, including influences from society, teachers, and peers, were also identified. Students expressed their mixed feelings toward the CET-4, indicating that this test had both positive and negative influences in promoting their English learning. Testing well-developed motivation and anxiety models in the Chinese context enriched and expanded our knowledge in theory development in English language education in China. The implications of this study point to the importance of understanding language test-takers’ characteristics in their macro and micro learning contexts, as well as the importance of establishing the relevance of English language learning to language teaching, and testing in English as Foreign Language contexts.
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