EFL teacher motivation in-situ: Co-adaptive processes, openness and relational motivation over interacting timescales

Main Article Content

Richard J. Sampson


This paper presents an exploratory case study of the classroom motivational dynamics of an English as a foreign language (EFL) teacher at a Japanese technology college. The article examines how motivation evolved in-context over various timescales through interactions with affect and identity. An introspective research journal generated rich, qualitative data concerning fluctuations in teacher motivation over one academic year. The analysis also drew on student journal data to provide a different perspective on teacher reflections. The study applied a thematic analysis, with “theoretical comparison” (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) to understand teacher motivation from a “person-in-context relational view” (Ushioda, 2009). The article utilises the properties of complex systems to render insight to the evolution of teacher motivation as open to influences “external” to the classroom, yet fundamentally tied to adaptive experiences with a particular class group. A variety of diagrammatic tools are also employed to illuminate the relational development of teacher motivation, affect and identity constantly occurring over interacting timescales.


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Sampson, R. J. (2016). EFL teacher motivation in-situ: Co-adaptive processes, openness and relational motivation over interacting timescales. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 6(2), 293-318. https://doi.org/10.14746/ssllt.2016.6.2.6
Author Biography

Richard J. Sampson, Gunma University



Richard Sampson has been working in the Japanese educational context for over 15 years. He holds a PhD from Griffith University, Australia. His research interests concern situated exploration of the contextualized nature of the learning and teaching of foreign languages. His research into the interrelations between language-learner self ideas, past, present and future learning experiences, and motivation engages with Japanese adolescents, working to foster the advancement of student and teacher voice about the actual experience of foreign language learning class groups. He draws on complex systems theory to inform philosophical understandings about research processes and the interactions involved in dynamic motivation of class groups, notably represented in his research monograph, Complexity in Classroom Foreign Language Learning Motivation: A Practitioner Perspective from Japan (2016, Multilingual Matters).


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