Enhancing Singaporean Students' Motivation, Efficacy, Engagement, and Self-regulation for More Effective Bilingual/Biliteracy Learning

Project Number
OER 25/08 LZ

Project Duration
March 2009 - September 2012


One of the fundamental goals of education is to teach students to become self-directed learners who seek to acquire new knowledge and skills themselves. The high degree of coincidence of self-regulated learning theories with the Singapore educational policy ''Teach Less, Learn More'' proposed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong makes it imperative that research be conducted to help make this happen in language classrooms in Singapore. This is because self-regulatory learners are highly motivated, plan, evaluate, and regulate their own strategies, have correct metacognition about the various factors involved in the learning process and they develop an enduring interest in learning (Paris et al., 1994, p. 788; 2002). Paris et al. are right in making the explicit statement based on research evidence, the issue of how to implement such an initiative remains unsolved (cf. Paris & Paris, 2001), as teachers need support in their efforts to develop self-regulated readers and writers. This is especially the case in Singapore. Research shows that self-regulatory students use self-generated thoughts, feelings, and actions to affect one's learning of knowledge and skills systematically (Zimmerman, 2001). One of the most important aspects of self-regulated learning of two languages concurrently is using and monitoring appropriate strategies. Nevertheless, this does not happen easily unless something is done to enhance learners' motivation, self-efficacy, and metacognitive knowledge of oneself, tasks, and strategies for solving the problems in the learning context through teachers' modelling of specific strategies (Pressley, 2007). Bandura's social cognitive theory postulates that self-efficacy and self-regulation are key processes affecting student' learning and achievement. Recently, Schunk and Zimmerman (2007) focused on developing students' reading and writing performances using Zimmerman's four-phase social cognitive model of the development of self-regulatory competence. They concluded that modelling is an effective means of building self-regulatory and academic skills and of raising self-efficacy, metacognition, skills, and self-regulation across multiple phases of Zimmerman's model. They argue that in the process of becoming skilful self-regulated learners, students progress through four developmental levels: observation, emulation, self-control, and finally self-regulation. Motivational strategies can boost the achievement. Unfortunately, while bilingualism/biliteracy is a common phenomenon in Singapore, little has been documented about how some Singaporean students achieve their biliteracy learning goals though self-regulation and how others fail to do so in their learning of two languages. Neither has evidence-based research been conducted through intervention to help improve under-achieving students' performance in the two major language subjects that they are required to study in the school curriculum: English as the school's First Language subject and their home languages as the Mother Tongue subject. The proposed study intends to implement the ''Teach Less, Learn More'' initiative, involving the two major ethnic populations in Primary 5 language classrooms in two neighbourhood primary schools. There are two major sub-projects examining language and biliteracy learning of the two major ethic student populations in two phases. Being quantitative and qualitative and quasi-experimental in design, the study uses multi-methods for data collection such as classroom observation, student and teacher interviews, survey questionnaires (pre-, mid-, and post- tests), and classroom-based interventional instruction. The first phase will involve investigating students' knowledge and preparedness in academic engagement and self-regulation on the basis of assessing students' reading and writing proficiencies/ competences in the two languages through tests, questionnaire surveys, and pupil and teacher interviews.

Research Themes
Bilingual & Biliteracy Development

Funding Source

Related Links
SingTeach Issue 29 (Mar/Apr 2011): Self-efficacy and Self-regulation in Biliteracy Learning

Related Projects