The Relationships Among Learning Styles, Learning Strategy Use, and English Proficiency of Chinese EFL University Students: A Mixed Methods Study
This study investigates the multi-dimensional learning style preferences, learning strategy use, and English proficiency of Chinese EFL students studying at a university in the north-eastern part of China, with a focus on exploring the interrelationships that exist among the three factors. By using mixed methods, namely, the combined use of both quantitative and qualitative methods, this study attempts to provide more precise and complete descriptions of the learning styles and learning strategy use of the EFL learners, as well as of the relationship between these two important individual variables and their possible influence on the achievements of English language. In the quantitative component of this study, 466 participants completed two surveys, namely, the adapted Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) and the Style Analysis Survey (SAS), which were used to measure the learning strategies used by the participants and their multi-dimensional learning styles. An English proficiency test was administered to the participants to measure their English competence. In the qualitative component, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 21 participants who were selected purposively among the three proficiency groups. The quantitative data were analyzed by SPSS (Version 17.0) and the qualitative data were analyzed with the assistance of NVivo. By comparing and converging the results and findings that were obtained from the quantitative and qualitative analyses, this study found that learning styles are not significantly correlated with the English proficiency of the learners but may exert influence by the interaction with instructors’ teaching styles, and interactions with learners’ motivations and interests in learning. Another important role of learning styles is that they may influence the types of learning strategies chosen to be used by the participants. Learning strategy use was found to be significantly correlated with and to directly influence students’ English proficiency. It influences their achievements in English learning not only in terms of frequency and types of strategies used, but also in terms of the manner of their strategy use. The findings also suggest that self-regulation may have more conspicuous influence on the success of language learning. There also appears to be a close relationship between learning styles and learners’ strategy use. The types of learning strategies often used by the participants are congruent with their learning style types to a large extent. Additionally, several other factors were also found to influence strategy use, including beliefs and goals in learning and affective factors to enhance or weaken strategy use. Suggestions on classroom teaching of English as a foreign language are proposed in accordance with the findings and implications of this study. Recommendations are made regarding directions for future research.
Advisor: Sweetnam Evans, Moyra
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Department of English and Linguistics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Learning styles; learning strategies; individual factors; English proficiency; EFL learners; culture; situational interest; individual interest
Research Type: Thesis