Revisiting Mindset Theory: Insights from EFL Students in Japanese Higher Education

Berg, Michael
(2021) Revisiting Mindset Theory: Insights from EFL Students in Japanese Higher Education. Doctor of Education thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Despite the marked impact they have been shown to have in the classroom, growth/fixed mindsets are an under-researched area of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) studies (Lou & Noels, 2016; Mercer & Ryan, 2009). How these mindsets interface with students’ EFL proficien-cy, as well as linguistic and social environments (demographic information such as where students grew up; to what extent English was used and study was encouraged; how much exposure students had to native English-speaking foreigners etc.) were examined in order to illuminate some trends regarding how Japanese university students perceive and approach their language learning journey. In this study approximately 850 Japanese students from two municipal universities were surveyed to identify their language learning mindsets, EFL proficiency and social/educational histories. Sub-sequent statistical correlations were sought, and follow-up interviews were undertaken for a more in-depth understanding of the relationships that exist. It was discovered that despite the impact mindset theory has had on a host of learning domains, its relevance in helping to make sense of EFL learning within a Japanese university context was minimal with respect to growth mindsets, and negligible with respect to fixed. As well it was discovered the tool used to measure mindsets (Lou & Noels’ Language Mindset Index) had a limited fit within a Japanese context prompting a four- (rather than six- and three-) factor model. Rather than mindsets, it appeared students strug-gled far more markedly with a host of affective hinderances; such as a lack of confidence and fear of making mistakes which stemmed from an overfamiliarity with the still prominent grammar-translation (yakudoku) teaching methods prevalent within secondary, as well as “cram” schools (jukus). The overcoming of these affective hindrances appeared to be requisite to becoming a “more proficient” student (as defined in this study). Finally, from a practitioner’s perspective the author makes the case for positive psychology within the Japanese EFL classroom.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Education)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2021 10:15
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 21:34
DOI: 10.17638/03131713