ACADEMIC BOREDOM AND COPING STRATEGIES OF EFL STUDENTS IN SELECTED PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES OF CHINA

Author: YANG YANBO

Issue: 2023-2024

Abstract:

Learner differences have been a heated topic for second and foreign language acquisition research, among which emotions are a key factor. A series of empirical investigations into boredom have been conducted in the field of educational psychology, however, it is surprising that researchers have not given ample attention to the role of academic boredom in English classrooms of second and foreign language yet. Besides, as previous studies show, compared with anxiety, depression and other negative emotions, boredom has not gained sufficient attention. Some scholars do have done relevant research on academic boredom in the setting of EFL, but most of them are focused on the general situation of it, with little concern to the correlation among the factors contributing to academic boredom and the coping strategies to it.

Hence, the present study, based on the control-value theory of achievement emotions, the attention theory of boredom proneness and the cognitive-motivational theory, attempts to investigate the level or general situation of the English major EFL students’ academic boredom in private universities of China, the factors contributing to the learners’ academic boredom and the coping strategies for it. The main instrument is questionnaire and is randomly delivered to more than 1200 English major students from 6 selected private universities in China and 1144 are valid. In addition, to clarify some findings in the questionnaires, interviews are adopted with 18 respondents.

As found in this study, all the seven factors were associated with FLLB after regression analysis demonstrated the significant predictive power of the six factors (foreign language English classroom boredom, under-challenging task boredom, homework boredom, general learning trait boredom, over-challenging or meaningless task boredom, and teacher-dislike boredom. The factor of technology presentation boredom was removed.) in determining FLLB, which could jointly function as predictors in terms of 98.9% of EFL students’ boredom.

The students’ boredom coping strategies for boredom was at a medium level. Among the 4 dimensions, 3 (cognitive approach, behavioral avoidance, and behavioral approach) were at a medium level, and one (cognitive avoidance) was at a low to medium level. The students’ boredom coping measure in terms of English class participation was at a medium level. Teacher-student rapport was at a medium to high level, and teacher support was at a medium level, indicating that teachers played a crucial role in coping with EFL students’ academic boredom. The students’ boredom coping measure in terms of academic self-efficacy was at a medium level.

The location of university and year level had strong impact on students’ boredom level, the number of English courses currently enrolled in had a little impact on students’ boredom level, while gender, family location and sibling status had no effect. To be more specific, students from the southern location reported higher level of boredom compared to students from both the central and northern locations. There was no significant difference in boredom levels between students from the central and northern regions. There was significant difference in EFL students’ boredom between freshmen and sophomores, but there was no significant difference between freshmen and juniors, and between sophomores and juniors. There was significant difference in EFL students’ boredom when they enrolled in 4-5 English courses and over 10English courses, but there was no significant difference at all among other numbers of courses. In addition, there was no significant difference in the levels of boredom in terms of gender, location of family, sibling status, and little difference in the number of courses enrolled in.

In addition, there was no significant difference in the levels of boredom in terms of gender, location of family, sibling status, and little difference in the number of courses enrolled in. These findings in the significance differences above may be attributed to the following factors: different sense of novelty and excitement, various course content and difficulty as well as different personal expectations and motivation. On the other hand, less obvious difference in terms of the number of English courses, gender, family location and sibling status may lie in similar learning environments and common challenges. As regards the correlation between the level of boredom and boredom coping strategies, it was negative. Among the factors to deal with boredom, teacher-student rapport and academic self-efficacy played more fundamental role in coping with students’ boredom in English learning. Therefore, the following recommendations are listed: enhancing students’ cognitive and behavioral approach to deal with boredom, increasing students’ self-efficacy, and establishing favorable teacher-student rapport. The study is of great theoretical and practical significance for the English major EFL students and English teacher, as well as for the enhancement of the teaching quality of English in private universities of China. Certainly, the study has some limitation: the participants are selected only from the three regions in China, not covering all the private universities.

Keywords: Learning efficacy, student boredom factors, learning intervention