Explaining ESL Chinese Students’ In-Class Participation Using the Theory of Planned Behavior: An Exploratory Study


Chinese demand for American-style education is on the rise as many Chinese students seek opportunities to gain a true global education in China. However, importing US education style to China is in many ways challenging. If we consider at a micro-level the instructor-students interactions, Chinese students’ reluctance to communicate in class is in fact particularly strong. To explain such reluctance, scholars have traditionally focused their attention on constructs such as “Willingness to Communicate” and “Communication Anxiety” (Ellis, 2012). In our study, we have followed a different approach and propose a theoretical model to explain Chinese students’ in class participation inspired by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB; Ajzen, 2012). TPB applies to any specific human behavior under volitional control and has been successfully applied in several fields, such as health psychology, sports, and marketing. Our theoretical model was tested by administering a questionnaire to 133 Chinese university students enrolled in a recently established Sino-American university located in South-East China. Data were analyzed using partial least squares (PLS) path modeling method (Hair & Hult, 2013). Overall, our preliminary findings provided some initial support to our proposed model. The model accounted 32% of explained variance in intention to participate in class. The stronger predictors for students’ participation were attitudes toward participation and self-efficacy. In our future research we plan to further test our model and expand it by considering the contribution of additional constructs, such as face-saving and communication anxiety.

Author Information
Davide Girardelli, Wenzhou-Kean University, China
Vijay Patel, Wenzhou-Kean University, China
Xiaogao Zhou, Wenzhou-Kean University, China

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2015
Stream: Anxiety and Motivation

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