The purpose of this questionnaire-based study is to investigate whether differences in ways in which teachers of English view the challenge of generating pupil motivation, and the nature and qualities of the activities they regard as motivational, are related to (i) school-type and (ii) pupil demographics. The study is part of a larger project investigating ways in which teachers relate to pupils’ increasing encounters with English in out-of-school contexts as observed recently in the Nordic countries (Simensen, 2010; Sundqvist, 2009). The study draws on responses of teachers (n = 111) who completed an online survey sent in 2014 to a randomly-drawn sample of grade 6 – 9 English teachers (N =250). The questionnaire comprised Likert-scale items focusing on factors identified as having a positive impact on language learning motivation (Dörnyei & Ushioda, 2011; Henry, 2013). These were: (i) self-reported recognition of the value of youth culture in goal-directed teaching, (ii) knowledge and use of digital medias, (iii) creation of networked environments, (iv) creation of activities emphasizing creativity and self-expression, and (v) attempts to link out-of-school English experiences with in-school learning. The questionnaire additionally included an open-ended question inviting teachers to describe a task they found particularly motivated their pupils. Mean scores were calculated for the scales and cluster analysis was used to identify teachers with differing approaches to generating motivation. Responses to the open question were content analyzed and quantitatively coded. Preliminary analyses indicate that teachers who report types of practice that draw on pupils’ out-of-school encounters with English, create learning activities that engage with pupils’ interests and identities and which embody features of networked communication are overrepresented in (i) independent schools and (ii) schools with relatively high proportions of pupils from academic home backgrounds and a low share of pupils with minority backgrounds. In that performance is mediated by motivation (Dörnyei, 2009), the presence of such patterns sheds light on school- and pupil-related differences in attainment found in Nordic and other settings.
NERA 2015 - Marketisation and Differentiation in Education - 4-6 March 2015