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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2007

Автор: Ларина М.В.

The aim of the present article is to find out the significance of motivation as a contributing factor in Project work. This article offers a general overview of available research literature, followed by some pedagogical implications to improve and develop motivation.

Learning foreign languages is a long and complicated process. There is no question that learning a foreign language is different from learning any other subject. This is mainly because of the social nature of such a venture. Language, after all, belongs to a person’s whole social being: it is part of one’s identity, and is used to convey this identity to other people. The learning of a foreign language involves far more than simply learning skills, or a system of rules, or grammar; it involves an alteration in self-image, the adoption of new social and cultural behaviors and ways of being, and therefore has a significant impact on the social nature of the learner (Williams, 1994: 77).

Speaking about the interaction of motivation and Project work first of all we should define the main terms, what Project work means, and how it differs from simple learning. In recent years, increasing numbers of language educators have turned to project work to promote meaningful student engagement with language and content learning. Through project work, learners develop language skills while simultaneously becoming more knowledgeable citizens of the world. By integrating project work into content- based classrooms, educators create vibrant learning environments that require active student involvement, stimulate higher level thinking skills, and give students responsibility for their own learning. When incorporating project work into content-based classrooms, instructors distance themselves from teacher- dominated instruction and move towards creating a student community of inquiry involving authentic communication, cooperative learning, collaboration, and problem-solving.

According to Diana L.Fried-Booth (2002) Project work is a source of inspiring ideas from a variety of contexts, clearly presented, within a framework that responds to important issues in modern ELT pedagogical practice from a humanistic perspective.

Project work provides a wide variety of immediately accessible ideas for projects inside and outside the classroom. Project work has been described by a number of language educators, including Fried-Booth (2002), Haines (1989), Legutke (1984, 1985), Papandreou (1994), Sheppard and Stoller (1995), and Ward (1988). Although each of these educators has approached project work from a different perspective, project work, in its various configurations, shares these features:

The primary characteristics of project work

1. Project work focuses on content learning rather than on specific language targets. Real-world subject matter and topics of interest to students can become central to projects.

2. Project work is student centered, though the teacher plays a major role in offering support and guidance throughout the process.

3. Project work is cooperative rather than competitive. Students can work on their own, in small groups, or as a class to complete a project, sharing resources, ideas, and expertise along the way.

4. Project work leads to the authentic integration of skills and processing of information from varied sources, mirroring real-life tasks.

5. Project work culminates in an end product (e.g., an oral presentation, a poster session, a bulletin board display, a report, or a stage performance) that can be shared with others, giving the project a real purpose. The value of the project, however, lies not just in the final product but in the process of working towards the end point. Thus, project work has both a process and product orientation, and provides students with opportunities to focus on fluency and accuracy at different project-work stages.

Projects can also differ in data collection techniques and sources of information as demonstrated by these project types: Research projects necessitate the gathering of information through library research. Similarly, text projects involve encounters with "texts" (e.g., literature, reports, news media, video and audio material, or computer-based information) rather than people. Correspondence projects require communication with individuals (or businesses, governmental agencies, schools, or chambers of commerce) to solicit information by means of letters, faxes, phone calls, or electronic mail. Survey projects entail creating a survey instrument and then collecting and analyzing data from "informants." Encounter projects result in face-to-face contact with guest speakers or individuals outside the classroom

Projects may also differ in the ways that information is "reported" as part of a culminating activity. Production projects involve the creation of bulletin board displays, videos, radio programs, poster sessions, written reports, photo essays, letters, handbooks, brochures, banquet menus, travel itineraries, and so forth. Performance projects can take shape as staged debates, oral presentations, theatrical performances, food fairs, or fashion shows. Organizational projects entail the planning and formation of a club, conversation table, or conversation partner program.

Project work, whether it is integrated into a content-based thematic unit or introduced as a special sequence of activities in a more traditional classroom, requires multiple stages of development to succeed.

A Teacher puts the following objectives:

1. To encourage students to use language to learn something new about topics of interest.

2. To prepare students to learn subject matter through foreign language.

3. To expose students to content from a variety of informational sources to help students improve their academic language and study skills.

4. To provide students with contextualized resources for understanding language and content.

5. To simulate the rigors of academic courses in a sheltered environment.

6. To promote students' self-reliance and engagement with learning.

After being introduced to the theme unit and its most fundamental vocabulary and concepts, the teacher introduces a semi-structured project to the class that will be woven into class lessons and that will span the length of the thematic unit. The teacher has already made some decisions about the project. For example it can be debates. To stimulate interest and a sense of ownership in the process, the teacher will work with the students to decide on the issues to be debated. To move from the initial conception of the project to the actual debate, the teacher and students follow 10 steps.

Step I: Students and teacher agree on a theme for the project

To set the stage, the teacher gives students an opportunity to shape the project and develop some sense of shared perspective and commitment.

Step II: Students and teacher determine the final outcome

The teacher has already decided that the final outcome, for example, between two fictitious political parties. In this second stage of the project, students take part in defining the nature and format of the debate and designating the intended audience.

Step III: Students and teacher structure the project

After students have determined the starting and end points of the project, they need to structure the "body" of the project. Questions that students should consider are as follows: What information is needed to complete the project? How can that information be obtained (e.g., a library search, interviews, letters, faxes, e-mail, the World Wide Web, field trips, viewing of videos)?

Step IV: Teacher prepares students for the language demands of information gathering

It is at this point that the teacher determines, perhaps in consultation with the students, the language demands of the information gathering stage (Step V). The teacher can then plan language instruction activities to prepare students for information gathering tasks.

Step V: Students gather information

Students, having practiced the language, skills, and strategies needed to gather information, are now ready to collect information and organize it so that others on their team can make sense of it.

Step VI: Teacher prepares students for the language demands of compiling and analyzing data

After successfully gathering information, students are then confronted with the challenges of organizing and synthesizing information that may have been collected from different sources and by different individuals.

Step VII: Students compile and analyze information

With the assistance of a variety of organizational techniques, students compile and analyze information to identify data that are particularly relevant to the project. Student teams weigh the value of the collected data, discarding some, because of their inappropriacy for the project, and keeping the rest.

Step VIII: Teacher prepares students for the language demands of the culminating activity

At this point in the development of the project, instructors can bring in language improvement activities to help students succeed with the presentation of their final products. This might entail practicing oral presentation skills and receiving feedback on voice projection, pronunciation, organization of ideas, and eye contact. It may involve editing and revising written reports, letters, or bulletin board display text.

Step IX: Students present final product

Students are now ready to present the final outcome of their projects.

Step X: Students evaluate the project

Although students and instructors, alike, often view the presentation of the final product as the very last stage in the project work process, it is worthwhile to ask students to reflect on the experience as the last and final step. Students can reflect on the language that they mastered to complete the project, the content that they learned about the targeted theme, the steps that they followed to complete the project, and the effectiveness of their final product. Students can be asked how they might proceed differently next time or what suggestions they have for future project work endeavors. Through these reflective activities, students realize how much they have learned and the teacher benefits from students' insights for future classroom projects.

Content-based instruction and project work provide two means for making foreign language classrooms more vibrant environments for learning and collaboration. Project work, however, need not be limited to content-based language classes. Language teachers in more traditional classrooms can diversify instruction with an occasional project. Similarly, teacher educators can integrate projects into their courses to reinforce important pedagogical issues and provide trainees with hands-on experience, a process that may be integrated into future classrooms of their own. Teachers in foreign language settings have already proven that with adaptation and creativity, the project approach can be successful and rewarding for teachers and students alike.

Motivation and Motivational Factors

Now we should find out the importance of motivational factors for successful Project work. But what is “motivation”? This word derived from a Latin word meaning “to move”. In common usage motivation refers to a driving force that moves us to a particular action. Motivation can affect the nature of an organism’s behavior, the strength of its behavior, and the persistence of its behavior.

Motivation cannot be separated from reinforcement and punishment; we are motivated to perform a behavior to gain (or to avoid losing) a reinforcer or to avoid (or escape from) a punisher. Some reinforces and punishers are obvious, such as food or pain; others are subtle, such as smiles or frowns.

“Motivation” is defined in the terms put forward by Crookes and Schmidt (1991): “interest in and enthusiasm for the materials used in class; persistence with the learning task, as indicated by levels of attention or action for an extended duration; and levels of concentration and enjoyment”. They also identify motivation as a learner's “orientation with regard to the goal of learning a second language” (Norris-Holt, 2001, p.2).

Keller (1983) presents an instructional design model for motivation that is based upon a number of other theories. His model suggests a design strategy that encompasses four components of motivation: arousing interest, creating relevance, developing an expectancy of success, and producing satisfaction through intrinsic/extrinsic rewards.

Gardner defined motivation as the learner's orientation with regard to the goal of learning a second language. Motivation is divided into two basic types: integrative and instrumental. Integrative motivation is characterized by the learner's positive attitudes towards the target language group and the desire to integrate into the target language community. Instrumental motivation underlies the goal to gain some social or economic reward through L2 achievement, thus referring to a more functional reason for language learning. Both forms of motivation are examined in light of research which has been undertaken to establish the correlation between the form of motivation and successful Project work. Motivation does not only affect the selection and conceptualization of a specific goal in the beginning of an activity. Its main role is in controlling and directing an activity. In directing and coordinating various operations towards an object or goal, motivation transforms a number of separate reactions into significant action. Learners build object-directed means-end structures, such as tasks, plans, projects, intentions, and interests.

There is a large body of research focused on different motivation theories. We can innumerate such theories as Behavioral, Cognitive, Cognitive Developmental, Achievement Motivation, Psychoanalytic, Humanistic, Social Cognition and Transpersonal/ Spiritual.

From a behavioristic perspective, motivation is seen in very matter of fact terms. We act to achieve further reinforcement. Our acts are likely to be at the mercy of external forces.

In cognitive terms, motivation places much more emphasis on the individual’s decisions, “the choices people make as to what experiences or goals they will approach or avoid, and the degree of effort they will exert in that respect” (Keller, 1983).

A constructivist view of motivation places even further emphasis on social context as well as individual personal choices (Williams and Burden, 1997).

It is the general psychological definition of motivation, but what is its role in particular process – Project work?

The role of motivation in Project work

Project work is potentially motivating, stimulating, empowering, and challenging. It usually results in building student confidence, self-esteem, and autonomy as well as improving students' language skills, content learning, and cognitive abilities.

Where there is no, or low, motivation in a student there is little or no learning. Paradoxically, where student motivation is high, students can overcome most difficulties, many deficiencies (in the teaching process) and some disasters.

The best projects undoubtedly result from real interest and enthusiasm on the part of the student. Traditionally it might be expected that intrinsic motivation is not a problem for students in higher education, and, indeed, for many this is still the case. For them, project work is frequently very enabling where previously their performance may have considerably exceeded the expected standard, with projects they can achieve as highly as they wish(Roberts, 2000). However, it is recognized increasingly that, as the number of students in higher education grows and as the range of abilities broadens, project supervisors must be more proactive in helping students to find the motivation to perform to the best of their ability.

Although individuals are different, students' motivation is often related to feeling that what they are doing is valued by others and feeling a sense of partnership with the person, or people, for whom the work is being done. So, although extrinsic motivators (such as awarding a prize for the best project and other types of rewards) may have an impact, they are likely to focus students' efforts on earning the rewards rather than on learning and achievement. Rather, the best work is likely to result from students being able to motivate themselves intrinsically. That is, each individual should find personal satisfaction in achieving whatever it is they set out to do.

Motivation may be addressed at several points in the cycle of learning. Keller (Keller, 1983) identifies four particular points. Students' motivation can be affected by their Interest in the work, their perception of its Relevance, their Expectation that they will succeed and their Satisfaction in their achievement.

It is important to distinguish un-motivation, which may be associated with remarks such as "What's the point of doing a project?" (Interest and Relevance) from de-motivation, which may result from difficulties experienced while undertaking the current project, or may be the residual effect of prior experience of project work (Expectation and Satisfaction).

Un-motivation may be associated with the degree program as a whole rather than just the project component and this can be difficult to overcome. However, projects can represent an opportunity for individuals to exercise more control over their work, particularly in terms of the scheduling and location of work and sometimes even in terms of choice of subject matter and methods to be used as well. Projects can, therefore, be a real opportunity to help individuals get motivated.

De-motivation is a likely, perhaps inevitable, consequence of failure to match the requirements of the project to the abilities and skills of the student: if the project is either too hard or too easy motivation will be lost quickly. Similarly, it is important that students understand at an early stage in the project the nature and range of the demands that they will face. Many students will become demotivated if the demands of the project turn out to be at odds with their expectations. And, otherwise, the teacher should create a friendly atmosphere in the class because one of demotivating factors is bad relationships between a teacher and a student.

In attempting to create an environment which helps to stimulate intrinsic motivation a key issue is that giving students more control over their work means that staff have less control. For example, involving students in the choice of project topic may help their motivation but it may also lead to staff working outside their areas of expertise. This may have implications for both the quality of supervision and the willingness of staff to take on supervisory responsibilities.

Similarly, it may be construed as motivating to allow students to determine the schedule for handing-in interim deliverables. This would allow students to take ownership by deciding when to work on the different aspects of the project requirements, but it necessarily means that staff work around the schedules devised by individual students. This will make it difficult for staff to plan their own work schedule and may bring project supervision into conflict with other aspects of staff workloads.

Clearly, it is necessary to balance staff and student control but achieving the optimal balance is problematic.

Un-motivated students are likely to have made themselves known in other parts of the course but de-motivation can be related to some aspect of the task in hand. Students become de-motivated for different reasons, and often the reasons relate to the individual's perception, rather than the reality, of how the project is going. Measures to cope with de-motivation must address the cause and this means that supervisors must be adept in identifying the real reasons for de-motivation (these may not be the most obvious or even those given by the student) and then tailoring strategy and tactics to the needs of the individual.

Indeed, used indiscriminately, measures to improve motivation may do more harm than good. For every student motivated by competition, for example, there may be one (or more) students who are turned-off completely (Lepper, 1988). Publishing student work may spur some students to ensure that it is of high quality, but for others this is an unnecessary extra pressure. There will always be some students who just do not respond to the invitation to negotiate aspects of their project.

Helping students to motivate themselves is very difficult because there is no panacea; one size does not fit all, and matching ideas and approaches to individual students is a key skill for teaching staff generally and for project supervisors in particular. Further, in attempting to stimulate intrinsic motivation teaching staff can do no more than serve as a catalyst: individual students eventually must take responsibility for their own motivation.


Project-based Learning allows teachers to create tasks whose complexity and openness mimic problems in the real world. Students can see the interdisciplinary nature of these tasks, and see that each task may have more than one solution. Students who have the freedom to choose different strategies and approaches may become more engaged in the learning process, and these students will be more likely to approach other problems with an open mind.

In addition, students who are involved in creating the project assignment or the project checklist gain valuable experience in setting their own goals and standards of excellence. This gives students a sense of ownership and control over their own learning. Learners have the added opportunity to identify related sub-topics and explore them in a project-based scenario. Teaching with the project-based method enables students to work cooperatively with peers and mentors in a student-centered environment where learners are encouraged to explore various topics of interest. Projects that have depth, duration, and complexity will challenge students and motivate them towards construction of knowledge. They will acquire problem-solving, communication, collaboration, planning, and self- evaluation skills. After completing a project, ask students to create a self-evaluation of the project. This enables the students to focus on their learning process and allows them to see their progress. Self-evaluation gives students a sense of accomplishment and further instills responsibility for learning.

Learners who can see the connection between a project-based task and the real world will be more motivated to understand and solve the problem at hand. Students enjoy learning when learning makes sense. Project-based Learning lends itself to many disciplines. It provides learners the opportunity to have a voice in how and what they learn, while building intrinsic motivation towards problem-solving.


1. Crookes, G., & Schmidt R.W. (1991). Motivation: Reopening the research agenda. Language Learning, 41(4), 469-512.

2. Fried-Booth, D. 2002. Project work. New York: Oxford University Press.

3. Gardner, R.C., & Lambert, W.E. (1972). Attitudes and motivation: Second language learning. Newbury House.

4. Haines, S. 1989. Projects for the EFL classroom: Resource material for teachers. Walton-on-Thames Surrey, UK: Nelson.

5. Keller, J. M. (1983) In Instructional-Design Theories and Models (Ed, Reigeluth, C. M.) Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, New Jersey.

6. Lepper, M. R. (1988) Cognition and Instruction, 5, 289-309.

7. Legutke, M. 1984. Project Airport: Part 1. Modern English Teacher, 11, 4, pp. 10-14.1985. Project Airport: Part 2. Modern English Teacher, 12, 1, pp. 28-31.

8. Papandreou, A. 1994. An application of the projects approach to EFL. English Teaching Forum, 32, 3, pp.41-42.

9. Roberts, E. (2000) In 31st SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education ACM, Austin, Texas, pp. 295-2

10. Sheppard, K., and F. Stoller. 1995. Guidelines for the integration of student projects in ESP classrooms. English Teaching Forum, 33, 2, pp. 10-15.

11. WILLIAMS, Maron and Robert L. Burden. (1997). Psychology for Language

12. Ward, G. 1988. I've got a project on.. New South Wales, Australia: Primary English Teaching Association.

13. Teacher Motivation, Ch. 7

К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2007

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