Pillemer, J.


M. A. in Applied Linguistics: English Language Teaching and Learning

Dissertation submitted in part fulfillment of degree of Master of Arts of The University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

July 2004



            Understanding Motivation: student response to a song lyrics project.

An examination of the motivational elements of tasks within a specific EFL project, The Lyrics Projects as perceived by Israeli students and teachers, and the implications of the findings for creating motivating EFL tasks.




This dissertation analyses a motivating multi-tasked project for Israeli high school English as foreign language (EFL) students dealing with the subject of pop music lyrics, seeking out the task-based elements likely to increase student motivation. A motivating task is likely to lead to more successful mastery of the foreign language.


Fourteen teachers who used the project and fifty nine students who had completed the project, were given questionnaires aimed at establishing their perceptions of what had been responsible for student motivation.


Once student motivation had been established, three initial assumptions explaining that motivation were examined: (i) the motivating influence for teenagers of pop songs lyrics, (ii) the role of choice and autonomy and (iii) the role of creativity. The results of the study indicated the all three factors had contributed to student motivation. It was found that the requirement for creativity in a task was especially motivating.  However, for a small minority of students both autonomy and creativity decreased motivation.  


The dissertation goes on to examine other task-defined factors that may have contributed to the motivation of students including: (i) the potential pleasure derived from hard work, (ii) the influence of the expectation of a grade (iii) the perception of the learner that the activity is or is not beneficial to acquiring the language and (iv) the influence of working with a partner. The first factor was not found to be relevant to motivation of the students. The second, the role of a grade was found to be very important in motivation.  No direct relation was found between the third factor and motivation. The fourth factor working with a partner, was found to have increased motivation for most students but lowered motivation for others. The study also revealed that tasks requiring meta-cognitive reflection were, by and large, less motivating.


The results of the study are used to suggest how EFL tasks might be designed by teachers and material writers in the future to encourage student motivation.


Table of Contents


Chapter 1                     Introduction                                       page   1

Chapter 2                     Relevant Theory                                page   4

Chapter 3                     Method                                             page 17

Chapter 4                     Results                                              page 25

Chapter 5                     Discussion                                         page 40

Chapter 6                     Conclusion                                        page 48

Chapter 7                     References                                        page 53

Appendix A                  The Lyrics Project                             page 54

Appendix B                  The Questionnaire for Teachers          page 56

Appendix C                  The Questionnaire for Students           page 59

Appendix  D                 List of Tables                                    page 62




I would like to express my appreciation and thanks to the staff of the Applied English Language Studies Unit Department of English Languages and Literature, University of Liverpool for the professional, insightful and organized instruction I have received while studying for my M.A. in Applied Linguistics: English Language Teaching and Learning.


I would especially like to thank Dr. Mike Scott, my dissertation tutor, for keeping me on the right track whenever I seemed to wonder off in the wrong direction.


Finally, I would like to thank both teachers and students who took the time to fill out the questionnaires and answer my questions.   


For full dissertation in MS Word  - click here

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