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Relationship between personality, learning strategies, teaching strategies and English language proficiency


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Rogulj, Jasmina. (2016). Relationship between personality, learning strategies, teaching strategies and English language proficiency. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature
Department of Psychology.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij glotodidaktike) [mentor Mihaljević Djigunović, Jelena and Bratko, Denis].

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Second language acquisition (SLA) is a dynamic proces based on the interaction of individual and contextual factors. Individual differences research, as one of the key topics in the personality psychology and educational psychology, gained momentum also in the field of applied linguistics during the 1970s of the last century. Since individual differences (such as personality, language aptitude, learning styles and strategies, motivation, language anxiety), directly or indirectly contribute to second language learning outcomes, they have become one of the most frequently researched areas in applied linguistics. However, current trends in the SLA research also place emphasis on the situational nature of individual factors and suggest a new dynamic conceptualization in which individual factors enter a particular type of interaction with situational parameters (Dörnyei, 2009). In line with the above mentioned, this research aimed at gaining insight into the relationship among personality, learning strategies, perceived teaching strategies and English language proficiency. Although numerous psychological research studies indicate that personality as a non-cognitive variable has an impact on academic performance, only a small number of SLA studies worldwide, and especially in Croatia, have investigated the relationship between personality on the one hand, and learning strategies or second/foreign language performance on the other. The research sample included 229 medical students from the University of Split, Croatia. Five major dimensions of personality (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and intellect) were assessed by means of the crosscultural personality inventory IPIP100 (International Personality Item Pool) (Goldberg, 1999), based on the Big Five model of personality. In psychological research studies this model represents the dominant conceptualization of personality structure, which stands in sharp contrast with the field of SLA, where researchers have shown only limited interest in integrating five-factor model of personality in their research designs. Therefore, it seemed valuable to explore potential effects of big five personality traits on English language acquisition. Further, the 80-item Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) (Oxford, 1990) was used to collect information on strategies grouped into six categories: memory strategies, cognitive strategies, compensation strategies, metacognitive strategies, affective strategies and social strategies. The last instrument used in this study was the Questionnaire on Perceived Teaching Strategies designed exclusively for the purpose of this research to measure the level to which students perceive particular teaching activities and techniques as well as classroom interaction models effective for their own learning process. By applying factor analysis, four perceived teaching approaches have been identified, based on the following: positive interaction and methodological diversity, development of pragmatic competence, promotion of autonomous learning, and traditional teacher-centred approach. Two test formats were created to test English language proficiency. The cloze test was applied to measure general language competence and the listening comprehension test was used to assess receptive listening comprehension skills. All collected data were analysed by using descriptive and inferential statistical methods. The research findings uncovered some interesting trends. First, the results revealed a significant negative relationship between conscientiousness and general language competence which could be attributed to the use of the cloze test as an assessment tool. Second, the findings indicated that students who scored higher on intellect were more likely to use cognitive and metacognitive strategies, whereas those with higher extraversion and agreeableness scores tended to use social strategies more frequently. Third, students who reported more frequent use of cognitive strategies showed significantly higher levels of general language competence and listening comprehension skills, whereas those who reported a higher use of affective strategies scored significantly lower on both measures of language proficiency. Moreover, a more detailed insight was gained by exploring the relationship between individual learning strategies and both measures of language competence, especially when considered in interaction with personality traits. In other words, a number of individual cognitive strategies showed significant positive association with both measures of language proficiency and intellect. Our findings also suggested that learning strategies were better predictors of English language proficiency than personality traits. However, since personality traits still made a unique significant contribution to variance in both measures of language proficiency, their role in SLA research should not be neglected. Finally, the results suggested a number of positive significant associations between students' personality traits and their perceptions of effective teaching approaches which proved that the extent to which students perceived certain teaching strategies to be more effective than others, at least partly depended on their personality. The findings of this study have some clear implications for teaching English as a foreign language. They refer to raising teachers' awareness about learning as a dynamic process based on the interaction between personality and learning strategies as individual variables on the one hand, and teaching strategies as situational variables on the other. This should result in adopting more flexible teaching approaches, integrating diverse teaching activities and task types into the teaching proces and fostering autonomous learning. Having all the above mentioned in mind, teachers could improve students' ability to become more effective language learners.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: personality traits, learning strategies, perceived teaching strategies, interaction, general language competence, receptive listening comprehension skills
Subjects: English language and literature
Psychology > Opća psihologija
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Department of Psychology
Supervisor: Mihaljević Djigunović, Jelena and Bratko, Denis
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij glotodidaktike
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2016 08:16
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 08:16

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