Research Question: How do student-centred learning environments affect academic motivation among Vietnamese students
This evaluation is assessed using the following specific features:
Joining the global race of high-quality education, Vietnam was compelled to reform learning and teaching methods, in which student-centred education apparently holds central attention in the process. This inspired me to study how student-centred learning environments influence academic motivation among Vietnamese students and further how to improve the situation. During my research processes, I discovered that global literature generally accepted the positive impact student-centred environments have on motivation. To prove the thesis’ applicability in the Vietnamese context, a range of primary research – survey, focus group discussion and expert interviews were conducted. Journal articles and books were also used to support my statistical data. My outcome was presented in the report format. I concluded that due to cultural aspects, the level of intrinsic motivation in Vietnamese student-centred classrooms was relatively lower than in global classrooms. To further promote motivation, a combination of both modern and conventional environments is required.
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2.1. Evaluation of research processes
My first step was literature reviewing since my prior knowledge about the topic was so limited. This process was the most important as it not only was helpful for the question refinement but also expanded my knowledge and my critical thinking. For example, Cheang K.I in an article titled ‘Effect of Learner-Centered Teaching on Motivation and Learning Strategies in a Third-Year Pharmacotherapy Course’ proved that students who change to student-centred classroom experience higher intrinsic motivation, yet in the article ‘Investigating effects of problem-based versus lecture-based learning environments on student motivation’ Wijnia, Loyens and Derous argued there was no difference in the level of motivation between environments. These contradictions make me question whether motivation levels only alter according to types of environments as my initial hypothesis or it may depend on other aspects.
As many of my sources conflicted with each other, it was necessary for me to cross-reference everything to ensure accurate information. It was owing to this process that I got the opportunity to read the book ‘Encyclopedia of the Science of Learning’. As its name suggested, this book included several topics within the education field and it has served as a perfect cross-referencing source. The book has outlined more multidimensional views for my research as well as confirmed my doubt that motivation levels in student-centred environments can differ from country to country depending on their culture, which further refined my findings.
Interaction with primary research is a bridge to exploring the topic especially when student-centred classrooms are new in Vietnam. Among numerous motivation measurement tools, only the Academic Motivation Scale (AMS) ticks all the criteria for my research. This test is one of the most common motivation measurements, developed by prominent psychologists Deci and Ryan. Its credibility and validity are renowned among scientific communities and are used by many sources to retest reliability. Besides, AMS was free to use and the guidelines were easy to follow. I acknowledged that AMS required participants to have adequate vocabulary to fully answer 28 questions revealing why they study, in this research only, biology in school. Hence, having high school students as a subject is suitable for such a questionnaire. The data suggested that the Vietnamese classroom has lower intrinsic motivations and higher extrinsic motivations than global classrooms. This has again reinforced the dynamics of cultures that I found in the literature review process and strengthened my understanding of the topic. However, a major limitation of the data is that it only indicated whether one experience increases or decreases in motivation but did not explain why it happened.
Having qualitative research was not in my initial planning, but since it was difficult to understand the stories behind each data set, a focus group discussion was conducted. As the data suggested a surprisingly different result compared to previous papers, this process became important to unveil the cause of this phenomenon. Interviewees stayed anonymous and were selected from those who completed the survey which guaranteed honest and credible answers. I found that Confucian culture, education system, peer pressure, and parent punishments were the reasons behind the extraordinary motivation level of Vietnamese students. The responses have been checked with many sources and succeed to provide a similar result thus it was credible. There was, however, a chance that potential explanations were excluded due to the small sample which does not represent the whole population. Besides, I found out that interviewees may be afraid to give out opinions that go against the group. Thus, conducting 1-on-1 interviews may guarantee more authentic responses, yet regarding the time restriction, group discussion has provided relatively adequate information.
2.2. Evaluation of decisions made in response to challenges and opportunities
A significant challenge of the research was planning for the interview. Acknowledging it may take time to get in contact with experts, I should have planned to send invitations early in the process, but I failed to calculate the time and hence was only able to interview Mrs Nguyen. To compensate for the lack of expert consultations I decided to do a focus group discussion with 6 students from both student-centred and lecture-based classrooms. This decision turned out to be the most pivotal decision in the research. As I directly interviewed students, I gained an enormous amount of useful insights into what difficulty students are experiencing and how Vietnamese culture impedes the development of intrinsic motivation. And hence, the solutions were more valid and customized for Vietnamese students compared to Mrs Nguyen solutions which were based on theories and outdated research papers. Though, it can not be denied that the analysis would have been much more in-depth if I had had the assistance from local expert educationalists. For overall evaluation, considering the time of nearly one year of doing research and I missed all of the opportunities to interview many prominent professors shows the major flaws in my planning. On the other hand, I had a chance to contribute more valid suggestions to the problem rather than depend on existing resources and learn to see the opportunities within the challenges.
One excellent opportunity for the research is the accessibility of many academic sources. Many publishers generously provide free articles to make knowledge available for everyone. This was important for such an academic outcome since my findings needed many scholarly articles to be credibly backed up. For example, an utter treasure of knowledge and open access source is the Master’s thesis titled ‘Student-centered Learning in Higher Education in Vietnam’ written by Thu Tran Phuong Le. The paper disclosed a clear picture of the Vietnamese education system where it blamed the culture of “face-saving” to stifle the curiosity of children. From this, I was able to correlate Vietnamese culture with low intrinsic motivation. The ability to access such sources proved to be the best opportunity in my research as it provided me with in-depth and accurate information that built up a strong evidence-based foundation on my outcome.
Nonetheless, some papers were impossible to acquire. Even after venturing into less legitimate websites, naught was found of these articles. The publishers have segregated the academic knowledge behind the paywall, all I had to do was excerpts. However, I refused to do a further search for those papers regarding I already have abundant accessible sources to back up my outcome.
2.3. Evaluation of the quality of research outcome
Notwithstanding some limitations, I believe the overall research outcome is successful, if not say beyond my expectations. It has answered the research questions comprehensively and has achieved its intention of encapsulating both paper theories and justified real-life data to provide more credible information. In particular, through a valid measurement tool – Academic Motivation Scale (AMS), it drew a conclusion that student-centred environments were correlated with positive motivation outcomes, yet negative extrinsic motivation remains stably high. However, after an expert interview and extensive reading of secondary literature, it was rewarding to know that an appropriate combination of teaching approaches can ease out the circumstances.
The strength of my outcome is that it was backed up by statistical evidence. Most of the previously done research used simply a pile of interview direct quotes or a summary of the pre-existing theories to substantiate their arguments without actual data. Hence, being the rare source invest strongly in quantitative research made my findings much more persuasive and valuable. Although there will be some concerns with the relatively small data sample compared to other sophisticated papers in the field, it has to be considered that this is only a one-year research. As given more time, the accuracy of the data could be easily improved by bigger sample size.
Nothing is perfect neither is my outcome. I acknowledge the effectiveness of the research paper is limited as my suggestion was unable to fully solve several aspects of the problem. I discovered that giving lectures to students first and gradually changing to student-centred learning environments will support learners internally overcome the fear of speaking up in class. It will help transition to active learning more effectively and increase intrinsic motivation. Nevertheless, it did not cope with external factors such as parents punishments which increase external regulation, or peer pressure that cause high introjected regulation. Those externalities were outside of the solution domain and hence left behind unsolved. As I inquired deeper into what could be improved, I recognized the complexity of this topic and that producing perfect solutions was not feasible within the time given of this project. I will need longer research time with consultants from professors in the field, and I hope to accomplish this in future.
As validated in my report, student-centred learning positively impacts motivation, nevertheless, it can not eliminate all the existing negative pressure students already had from the conventional environments. My outcome, eventually, became practical in suggesting solutions based on justified research. On that account, my research paper acts as a guiding paper for education agencies or teachers who might be interested in improving Vietnamese students’ motivation.