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Competition in English Class at Middle School

Competition in English Class at Middle School

Introduction

Educational outcomes attained by students are currently among the most interesting and relevant debates among educators and instructors because they identify the factors that either motivate or discourage learners to demonstrate the level of their achievements. The problem of performance, therefore, depends on many factors, such as class environment, personal attitude, motivation, and the extent to which a person is interested in a specific subject in terms of social and economic backgrounds. To understand the issue, the emphasis should be placed on the cognitive dimension, which is spread on student’s beliefs, affecting both level of success and understanding of how specific behaviors can introduce shifts in a learning process (Bruning, 2004). To research the issue, Chinese students from middle school have been chosen to develop the understanding of how motivation based on achievement competition can provide changes to students’ stimuli to work, as well as what underpinnings and aspects influence students’ motivation.

Thesis Statement

Students’ motivation is largely affected by class environment, communicational skills, and the purposes of studying English as a second language.

Research Objectives

The major research objective will be confined to studying motivational theories to understand the connection between the success of a learning process and level of motivation among Chinese students. Furthermore, the analysis of class environment, communication, and competition could be introduced to understand how these three factors affect students’ motivation.

Theory Discussion

Motivation among students often is the guiding principle of achieving higher results. In terms of personal achievements, children enter educational schools and focus on the task of revealing what factors affect success in a school environment. With reliance on the judgments they make regarding personal features which are essential for success in school, children should develop implicit theories in terms of their success at school (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). As soon as theories have been developed, students’ behavioral patterns at class introduce personal theories in terms of the variables which produce either success or failure. At this point, there is an attribution value theory, according to which children attending school will make efforts on the task until it meets their expectations, or the rewards correspond their efforts (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Additionally, the rewards for task completion should focus on the analysis of such issues as reward level, the essence of the task, and the values which students could receive from this assignment.

When it concerns enhancing motivation in class, self-efficacy issues come to the forth. At this point, Bandura’s social learning theory discusses the underpinnings and factors which affect students’ educational efficiency. Self-efficacy relies on several premises, such as performance level, observation of the performance level of other students, psychological awareness of personal advantages and shortcomings, and verbal persuasion as a means of social influence. Students’ efficacy, therefore, is mostly predetermined by the experiences in mastering a specific subject. In other words, when students accomplish a specific task, their expectations should be the basis of effective learning outcomes. In a modern environment, virtual space plays an important role in education because it contributes to collaboration in different environments. According to Caroll, Diaz, Meiklejohn, Newcomb, and Adkins (2013), Bandura’s social learning theory is effective for defining the value of online tools for improving referencing standards and writing among students. Specifically, the author argues, “the premise of SLT is that an individual’s cognition, behavior, and social environment continually interact, in a reciprocal, iterative, and cyclic fashion” (p. 515). According to the scientist, human behavior is not born but acquired in the course of gaining life experience.  By modeling people’s behavior, a person starts gaining new skills and knowledge for carrying new behaviors. In the classroom environment, these skills introduce new behavioral patterns for responding to the new challenges of knowledge acquisition. Therefore, these elements are decisive for underscoring the importance of motivational behavior for students to develop, observe, performance, and model the academic process, to advance their standards and define new behavioral and psychological capabilities.

In general, both theories presented above focus on the cognitive and behavioral issues which motivate students to accomplish task in classroom environment. Chinese students studying English should also have specific motivation, such as the feeling of competition, which pledges students to increase their results and practice new skills. Additionally, both social learning and expectancy theory should stand at the core of recommendations and frameworks for achieving higher results and creating a healthy environment in the classroom.

Outside Research

There are many research studies that focus on the effects of academic achievements in middle school environment. Carman and Zhang (2012) discuss the classroom effects on academic achievement at a Chinese middle school. The researchers have argued that peers have a positive influence on overall test scores, particularly on mah. It has been concluded that the peers have insignificant but still positive influence on Chinese scores but not on the English ones. Students who have a medium ability to distribute benefits have better results while interacting with peers. The major purpose of the assignment is to estimate the influence of peer outcomes on students’ achievement by means of panel information drawn from middle schools in China, from seventh to ninth grades. The effects are evaluated for math, Chinese, and English test scores in isolation. The results have revealed that there is positive correlation between peer interactions and classroom achievements.

The second research has been dedication to the analysis of motivational factors encouraging students to learn English as a foreign language. Specific attention has been paid to the motivational strategies and the frequency of reporting of the application of those issues. The study resorts to the methods proposed by previous research where the importance is attained of motivational framework. The major participants involve Korean teachers whose major function is to generate a health competition among students, who should be motivated by better results of their peers. During the study, it has been defined that importance and probability of use of motivational framework have been explored in Korea to ensure that motivational issues can transfer across different contexts. Additionally, classroom dynamics and climate have not been presented as relevant. The group dynamics analysis, perceived importance, and many other approaches have shown that currently that motivational level for Korean students is decreased, negatively affecting their academic performance.

Both studies are relevant for the given research because they provide the evident connection between students’ motivation and the importance of introducing competition in the classroom environment. Second, the studies also prove that peers’ and teachers’ influence is pivotal in improving their incentives to learn the English Language. At the same time, they do not relate directly to the fact that achievement competition has a direct influence on motivation, as well as on the quality of performance. Therefore, these issues should be represented by means of empirical studies, such as interviews, studies, and surveys among Chinese students who study English as a second language. In this respect, competition is still represented among the leading factors motivating students for better performance and interaction. The presence of positive influence on the part of peers signifies the importance of the healthy classroom environment.

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Learner Data: Interviews

With regard to the above-presented theoretical issues, the given research will invite middle school Chinese students, who are ready to participate in the research and answer the interview questions. The research will rely on observational methods which will help the research design the behavioral patterns and attitudes which are essential for understanding the factors contributing to the higher motivational level among students who study English language. The importance of communication skills and environment will be taken into consideration as well.

To begin with, students should answer 15 interview questions which will refer equally to the analysis of competition, motivation, and environment. Chinese students will be invited from grades 7 till 9 since this age category could be considered as conscious in understanding the role of learning and acquiring skills. The interview questions are presented as follows:

  1. What is your purpose of studying English?
  2. Do you communicate with peers on educational themes?
  3. Does better performance of peers motivate you perform better?
  4. Are you interested in performance of other students? Why?
  5. How does teamwork affect your skills?
  6. Do you like group activities in class?
  7. Are you a good listener or prefer doing everything by yourself?
  8. Are you good at communicating with others?
  9. What other personality traits are essential for classroom discussions?
  10. Do you observe other speakers’ achievements and compare with yours?
  11. Are there things or activities which discourage your or challenge your desire to work harder?
  12. Are you satisfied with the way teachers present information?
  13. Does teacher treat objectively all the students in term of their achievements?
  14. What would you change in educational approaches?
  15. What language barriers do you experience while communicating in English?

The questions presented above could promote a deeper understanding of how students could reveal their attitude to the competition in the classroom environment. Apart from the interviews, teachers could also organize project in which groups of students would participate and compare with the achievements which have been gained during individual assignment. Such approach will definitely provide the difference in students’ performance and will show whether competition plays an important role.

Before developing activities for ESL learners at middle school, teacher should also understand the potential challenges which they could encounter in terms of communication, experience, and environment. There are different levels to which students are exposed to study English. For instance, an ESL student should go through elementary school and have a better undeerstanding of English language. When it comes to Chinese students, this aspect is always under the questions because few students can state their basic knowledge of the language and grammar. Second, competition presents a powerful ground for organizing activities, but the task of teachers is to feel the way competition affects students since not all students are ready to be engaged, and their individual performance is sometimes much higher than that presented in teams. Hence, the individual approach should still be left because it can provide a more effective framework for managing and encouraging students’ motivation and desire to work more effectively.

Creating lessons and activities for students should start with the choice of certain strategies which could work effectively while delivering knowledge to ESL students. However, instructors must bear in mind what games are more relevant for a specific situation. The involvement in games instead of normal lessons seems to be a better idea because it introduces new motivations and interests among students. In other words, classroom environment gives much more inspiration in case students see implicit competition which does not come out to the forth.

The results of the study could provide new perspective for understanding Chinese students, along with the theoretical frameworks described. Specifically, the interview questions have provided new information about Chinese students and their attitude to group activities. It has been reported that Chinese students are more willing to work in teams rather than individually. Apparently, such a choice is predetermined, and students have increased their confidence because of greater experience in speaking, which in turn has increased the level of understanding. In case of constant motivation, the native speakers could have also been involved in the activities for Chinese students to follow the new expressions and advance their speaking and communication skills.

The responses have also revealed that students are interested in studying other disciplines in English. Since they have different instructors in science, math, history and class, it is often hard for them to switch form one subject to another. In this respect, students can resort to the available list of vocabulary and be rewarded with each word they have used during the conversation. Such an environment has made students more creative and enthusiastic regarding what they have been doing. Such an approach seems to be the most effective in managing the environment and understanding how students can enhance their effectiveness. Therefore, the attention to this issue plays an important role in managing a classroom environment.

   

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Conclusion

The major purpose of the research is to understand what motivational factors encourage students to learn language. The study is also aimed at understanding how competition affects participants’ behavior and reaction in terms of achievement and performance. Two major theories have been introduced to support the empirical research – expectancy value theory and social learning theory. The first theory postulates that students are often motivated by the expected results and expose the corresponding behaviors for achieving the purpose. Second, social learning theory explains which students could be motivated, arguing that self-efficacy is among the triggers for students to stand competition in a classroom environment. There are numerous approaches to managing classroom environment, and it turned out that a healthy competition could be effective for increasing performance and productivity of students.

Two empirical research studies have been chosen to support the given research. The first one is associated with Chinese students from middle school in evaluating the correlation between classroom environment and academic achievement. It has been proved that peers have a positive influence on middle school students because they motivate them to compete in surpassing their performance. The second study is directed towards Korean students whose motivation is guided by different factors, such as classroom climate and group dynamics. A low correlation is presented between classroom competition and personal motifs. As soon as these aspects have been considered, the interview questions have been conducted to enlarge on the issue and provide valuable explanations in the sphere.

During the interview, it has been defined that a healthy competition plays a positive role in enhancing students’ motivation, productivity and performance. Furthermore, Chinese students prefer working in groups rather than individually because of cultural specifics. However, there is a significant difference in achievement level because it is largely affected by students’ previous educational background and personal characteristics. There are few students who have had preliminary course in English language at primary school, but those who have passed it have a higher probability of being successful in language learning. Personal traits are also significant because they define the students’ readiness to work in teams as well as their performance, which is revealed either in a competition or at an individual level during testing. One way or another, competition defines further outcomes of an educational process, as well as guiding teachers in their endeavors to improve educational process and provide a comprehensive theoretical framework for practical assignments.

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