A Case Study of Chinese EFL University Learner’s Reading Motivation: A Complex Dynamic Systems Theory Perspective


Based on complex dynamic systems theory (CDST) (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron, 2008), the present study adopted a longitudinal sequential mixed-method research (MMR) approach with a quan->QUAL design and a triangulation purpose (Riazi, 2017) to unravel a Mainland Chinese EFL learner’s reading motivational complexity and dynamism over a half academic year (six months). Alex, a male 20-year-old year-2 accounting major, was selected as the participant in this case study. The Chinese Reading Motivation Questionnaire (CRMQ), an adapted version of MRQ (Baker & Wigfield, 1999), was administered first to measure Alex’s EFL reading motivational intensity over time, followed by a concurrent semi-structured interview. This coupled data collection procedure was repeated four times over the half academic year. The line chart was employed to visually display the data in CRMQ, identifying the changes and developmental trends of reading motivation over time. The content analysis approach was used to analyze the qualitative data, unraveling the influential factors and their joint efforts to shape Alex’s reading motivational development in the time dimension. This study found that reading motivation manifested five typical CDST features, i.e. complexity, dynamism, attractor states, non-linearity and reliance on contextual factors. Reading comprehension and contextual factors (teacher, reading materials, teaching style, father’s encouragement and international news) that showed variation over time intertwined to shape the reading motivational dynamic and complex nature in the time dimension. Self-regulation also plays a regulatory role in shaping the reading motivational development in the time dimension.

Author Information
Jianjun Li, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2023
Stream: Foreign Languages Education & Applied Linguistics (including ESL/TESL/TEFL)

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon