A Qualitative Examination of Relatedness Needs in Japanese EFL Classrooms and Task Motivation
Keywords:Self-determination Theory, relatedness needs, Japanese EFL university learners
The aims of this paper are to (a) examine the relatedness needs of Japanese university EFL learners, and (b) make suggestions on how instructors could organize group work in their classes. Self-determination theory postulates that, the more individuals’ relatedness needs are fulfilled, the more they are intrinsically motivated. However, some Japanese EFL motivation studies show mixed results regarding the causality. In this study, 24 Japanese university students participated in an interview. They were asked if their relationship with their classmates would influence their motivation to engage in tasks in an EFL classroom. The results indicated that, (1) when learners have not become well acquainted with their classmates in or out of class, becoming connected with them may enhance their motivation; conversely, when learners have already built good relationships with their classmates out of class, it may have different impacts on their in-class motivation, depending on the characteristic of the relationship; (2) learner motivation may improve when a given task that entails collective responsibility with other classmates; and (3) already motivated learners may prioritize competence and/or autonomy needs over relatedness needs. The author suggests that instructors assess classmates’ relationships and alter the ways they form groups and enhance positive goal interdependence among group members.
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