Islamic Azad University
At Central Tehran
A Thesis Submitted In Partial Fulfillment Of The Requirements For The Degree Of Master Of Arts In Teaching English As A Foreign Language (TEFL)
The Relationship Among EFL Learners’ Use Of Language Learning Strategies, Learning Style Preferences, And Creativity
Dr. Mania Nosratinia
Dr. Behdokht Mall Amiri
In The Name of God
This Thesis Is Dedicated To
The Loving Memory of My Beloved Father
It Is You Dad
Who Is Behind Any Success
I Ever Achieve
I owe a debt of gratitude to those who have helped me complete this thesis.
First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Mania Nosratinia, my thesis advisor, for her guidance, patience, encouragement and her endless assistance through this thesis process.
I am also indebted to my reader, Dr. Behdokht Mall Amiri, for her insights comments, suggestions, generosity, and advice.
May I also express my genuine thanks to Dr. Koroush Akef who kindly shouldered the burden to be the external reader of this study.
I also want to extend my gratitude to (in alphabetic order), Ms. Akhlaghi,
Ms. Jafarian, and Ms. Mansouri who allowed me to come to their classes to conduct the research project.
I would also like to express my gratefulness to all my professors who enlightened me through the course of my study as MA student.
I am extremely thankful to all the participants who provided me with rich and detailed data for the study.
Finally, I also wish to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to my mother, my brother, and my sisters whose prayers, love and best wishes were a source of inspiration, encouragement and motivation for me as I was completing this study.
The thrust of the current study was to investigate the relationship among EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies (SILL), learning style preferences (PLSP), and creativity (CR). To this end, a group of 148 male and female learners, between the ages of 19 and 32, majoring in English Translation and English Literature at Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran were randomly selected and were given three questionnaires: the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) questionnaire by Oxford (1990), the Perceptual Learning Style Preference (PLSP) questionnaire by Reid (1984), and a questionnaire of creativity (ACT) by O’Neil, Abedi, and Spielberger (1992). The relationship among language learning strategies, learning style preferences, and creativity was investigated using Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient. Preliminary analyses were performed to ensure no violation of the assumptions of normality, linearity and homoscedasticity. The results of this study indicated that there were significant and positive correlations between EFL learners’ learning strategies and learning style preferences (r = 0.83, p < 0.05), learning strategies and creativity (r=0.73, p < 0.05), and learning style preferences and creativity (r = 0.88, p < 0.05). Also, there were significant and positive correlations among different language learning strategies and learning style preferences, different language learning strategies and creativity, and different learning style preferences and creativity. Running multiple regression showed that social strategy predicted 79.9 percent of scores on creativity, cognitive strategy increased the predictive power to 82.1 percent, affective strategy added up the percentage of prediction to 82.6 percent, and finally the metacognitive strategy leveled the prediction to 93.2 percent. Also, results of multiple regression for learning styles showed Kinesthetic learning style is the only variable entering the model to predict 93.1 percent of scores on creativity. It can be concluded that the obtained results may help EFL teachers and educators to bear in mind the benefits of developing their learners’ learning strategies and learning style preferences when dealing with promoting creativity in learners.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..VI
LISTS OF TABLESIX
LISTS OF FIGURESXI
LISTS OF ABBREVIATIONSXII
CHAPTER I: BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE1
1.2 Statement of the Problem7
1.3 Statement of the Research Questions8
1.4 Statement of the Research Hypotheses10
1.5 Definition of Key Terms11
1.5.1 Language Learning Strategies11
1.5.2 Learning Style preferences12
1.6 Significance of the Study13
1.7 Limitations, Delimitations and Assumptions16
CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE20
2.2Language Learning Strategies21
2.2.1Definitions of Language Learning Strategies22
2.2.2 Background of Research on Language Learning Strategies25
2.2.3Taxonomies of Language Learning Strategies26
2.2.4Method to Investigate Learning Strategies35
2.2.5Researches on Learning Strategies38
2.3 Language Learning Style43
2.3.1 What is Learning Style?43
2.3.2 Development of Learning Style45
2.3.3 Background of Research on Learning Styles54
2.3.4 Fundamentals of Learning Styles55
2.3.5 Definitions of Learning Styles56
2.3.6 Researches on Learning Styles60
2.3.7 Differences between Language Learning Styles and Strategies65
2.4.1 The History of Creativity66
2.4.2 The Background of Creativity68
2.4.3 Attributes of Creativity70
2.4.4 Barriers to Creativity72
2.4.5 Promoting Creativity73
2.4.6 Important Cognitive Processes Involved in Creativity75
2.4.7 Researches on Creativity77
CHAPTER III: METHOD80
3.3.1 Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL)82
3.3.2 The Perceptual Learning Style Preference (PLSP)86
3.3.3 Creativity Questionnaire (ACT)89
3.6 Statistical Analyses95
CHAPTER IV: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 97
4.2 Results of the Study100
4.2.1 Testing Assumptions100
4.3 Testing the Null Hypotheses108
4.3.1 Testing the First Null Hypothesis108
4.3.2 Testing the Second Null Hypothesis112
4.3.3 Testing the Third Null Hypothesis115
4.3.4 Testing the Fourth Null Hypothesis119
4.3.5 Testing the Fifth Null Hypothesis123
4.3.6 Testing the Sixth Null Hypothesis127
4.3.7 Testing the Seventh Null Hypothesis132
4.3.8 Testing the Eighth Null Hypothesis136
4.4 Construct Validity139
CHAPTER V: CONCLUSION AND PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS146
5.2 Procedure and Summary of the Findings147
5.4 Pedagogical Implications158
5.4.1 Implication for EFL Teachers158
5.4.2 Implication for EFL Learners160
5.4.3 Implications for EFL Syllabus Designers, Curriculum Developers and Material Producers161
5.5. Suggestions for Further Research162
LISTS OF TABLES
Table 3.1: Reliability Index of SILL and Its Subcomponents ……………………….….…….…87
Table 3.2: Reliability Index of PLSP and Its Subcomponents ……………………..…….……….90
Table 3.3: Subcomponents and Items of the Persian Creativity Test …………………..…………..93
Table 3.4: Reliability Index of Creativity Questionnaire………………………………………….94
Table 4.1: Descriptive Statistics of SILL………………………………..………………..….……102
Table 4.2: Descriptive Statistics of PLSP……………………………………………………….104
Table 4.3: Descriptive Statistics of ACT……………………………………………………….105
Table 4.4: Correlations between Language Learning Strategies, Learning Style Preferences
Table 4.5: Correlations between Subcomponents of Language Learning Strategies and Learning
Table 4.6: Correlation between EFL Learners’ Language Learning Strategies and Creativity…117
Table 4.7: Correlations between EFL Learners’ learning Style Preferences.and Creativity…… 121
Table 4.8: Model Summary; Regression Analysis Predicting Creativity by Using Components of Learning Style Preferences and Language Learning Strategies…………….……125
Table 4.9: ANOVA Test of Significance of Regression Model Predicting Creativity by Using
Subcomponents of Learning Style and Strategies……………………….…………..127
Table 4.10: Model Summary, Regression Analysis Predicting Learning Strategy by Using Sub- components of Learning Style Preferences ………………………………………….129
Table 4.11: ANOVA Test of Significance of Regression Model Predicting Learning Strategy by Using the Subcomponents of Learning Style Preferences………………………….130
Table 4.12: Excluded Variables of Learning Style Preferences………………………………..130
Table 4.13: Model Summary; Regression Analysis Predicting Creativity by Using Components
of Language Learning Strategies………………………………….……………….133
Table 4.14: ANOVA Test of Significance of Regression Model Predicting Creativity by Using
Components of Language Learning Strategies…………………………………….134
Table 4.15: Model Summary; Regression Analysis Predicting Creativity by Using Components
of Learning Style Preferences……………………………………………………..136
Table 4.16: ANOVA Test of Significance of Regression Model; Predicting Creativity by Using
Components of Learning Style Preferences………………………………………..137
Table 4.17: Sampling Adequacy and Sphericity Assumptions………………..………………..139
Table 4.18: Total Variance Explained……………………………………………………….…140
Table 4.19: Rotated Components Matrix…………………………………………….…..….….141
Table 4.20: Summary of the Findings ………………………………………………………….143
LISTS OF FIGURES
Figure 4.1: Scatter Plot of Testing Linearity Assumption of Language Learning Strategies and
Learning Style Preferences………………………..………………………………..106
Figure 4.2: Scatter Plot of Testing Linearity Assumption of Language Learning Strategy and
Figure 4.3: Scatter Plot of Testing Linearity Assumption of Learning Style Preferences and
Figure 4.4: Scatter Plot of Studentized Residuals for Creativity…………………….………….109
Figure 4.5: Scatter Plot of Testing Linearity Assumption of Language Learning Strategies,
Learning Style Preferences and Creativity…………………………………….…..112
Figure 4.6: Linearity Assumption of EFL Learners’ Language Learning Strategies and
Figure 4.7: Scatter Plot of Testing Linearity Assumption of EFL Learners’ Learning Style
Preferences and Creativity………………………………………………..………….123
Figure 4.8: Scatter Plot of Predicting Creativity by Using Components of Language Learning
Strategies and Learning Style Preferences……………………………………………128
Figure 4.9: Scatter Plot of Testing Assumptions of Linearity and Homoscedasticity………….131
Figure 4.10: Scatter plot of Predicting Creativity by Using Components of Language Learning
Figure 4.11: Scatter plot of Predicting Creativity by Using Components of Learning Style
LISTS OF ABBREVIATIONS
L1: Native Language
L2: Foreign Language
ESL: English as a Second Language
EFL: English as a Foreign Language
PLSP: Perceptual Learning Style Preference
SILL: Strategy Inventory for Language Learning
ACT: Abedi-Schumacher Creativity Test
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Today, it is almost known that each learner has his/her especial way of learning that may have a fundamental role in his/her success or failure (Fewell, 2010; Zare & Noordin, 2011). Over the recent decades most of the researchers have gradually moved from focusing on teaching paradigms toward exploring individual characteristics (Carson & Longhini, 2002; Oxford & Anderson, 1995). Therefore, the individuals and their differences have been the subject of many studies. Along these lines it seems that there is a highly demanding need to expand studies in these lines (Ghonsooly, Elahi, & Golparvar, 2012; Gilakjani & Ahmadi, 2011; Mohebi & Khodadady, 2011). As Grenbell and Harris (1999) state “methodology alone can never be a solution to language learning. Rather it is an aid and suggestion” (p.10). Most of the theories of learning are all attempts to describe universal human traits in learning (Brown, 2007). They seek to explain globally how people perceive, filter, store, and recall information. Such processes do not account for the differences across individuals in the way they learn, or for differences within any one individual (Brown, 2007) which are very important factors in the process of learning.
Among different personal traits, individual learners’ learning style preferences provide valuable insights into the educational context (Felder & Spurlin, 2005; Sternberg, 1990; Xu, 2011). Learning style is inherent and pervasive and is a blend of cognitive, affective, and behavioral elements (Willing, 1988). Learning style includes four aspects of a person: a) preferred or habitual patterns of mental functioning; b) patterns of attitudes and interests that affect what an individual will pay most attention to in a learning situation; c) a tendency to seek situations compatible with one’s own learning patterns; and d) a tendency to use certain learning strategies and avoid others (Brown, 2000).
Keefe (as cited in Brown, 2000) stated that learning styles might be thought of as “cognitive, affective, and physiological traits that are relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment” (p. 114).
Dyer (1995) noted that each preferred learning style has a matching preferred method of instruction. When mismatches exist between learning styles of the learners in a class and the teaching style of the teacher, the students may become bored and inattentive in class, do poorly on tests, get discouraged about the courses, the curriculum, and themselves, and in some cases change to other curricula or drop out of school (Felder, 1996). Therefore, identifying these learning styles, which are stated by Cornett (1983) as the overall patterns that give general direction to learning behavior, might be a key element to raise instructors’ awareness of their weaknesses and strengths and impede negative feedbacks. Accordingly, Reid (1995) states that developing an understanding of learning environments and styles “will enable students to take control of their learning and to maximize their potential for learning” (p. 25).
Also, Brown (2007) believes that every individual approaches a problem or learns a set of facts from a unique perspective. In this view, the learner is considered as an active participant that the effects of teaching will be partly dependant on what s/he knows such as his/her prior knowledge, what s/he thinks about during learning and his/her active cognitive processes (Weinstein & Underwood, 1985). This has brought attention to language learning strategies which an individual learner applies during the learning process to facilitate second language learning (Oxford, 1990; Wenden, 1991).
Learning strategies are “any set of operations, plans, or routines used by learners to facilitate the obtaining, retrieval, storage and use of information” (Macaro, 2006, p. 342).
Many scholars such as Eliss (1994); O’Malley and Chamot (1996); Oxford (1990); Rubin (1978); Stern (1992) have classified learning strategies into categories, but Oxford’s classification is popular (Eliss, 2008). Her taxonomy consists of direct and indirect strategies. Direct strategies are specific procedures that learners can use to improve their language skills. Indirect strategies, on the other hand, include things such as evaluating one’s learning and cooperating with others (Elis, 2008). Furthermore, the frequency use of strategies and particular types of strategies vary among EFL learners. In this respect the influential effect of learning style should also be considered as suggested by Carson & Longhini, (2002); and Littlemore, (2001).
Researchers such as Ehrman (1989) and Oxford (1995) suggest that learning style has a significant influence on students’ choice of learning strategies, and that both styles and strategies affect learning outcomes. But in spite of the diversity of researches on learning styles and strategies, relatively no studies have addressed the relationship between these two variables and another very influential factor in foreign language learning process called creativity (CR).
Humans are all born with a potential for creativity and creativity can be nurtured “at all stages and in all fields of human endeavor” (Sarsani, 2005, p. 47). To this end, according to Agarwal (1992), developing CR at all levels in the education system is increasingly recognized as being critical in improving educational attainment and life skills, particularly in second or foreign language learning and teaching. “Discussion of creativity in relation to language teaching and learning has been extensive and continues to be a very major point of application of a wide range of theories of creativity” (Carter, 2004, p. 213). In fact, “Creativity is an inherent aspect of all pedagogical tasks” (Mishan, 2005, p. 83).
The field of creativity as it is known today has been developed basically thanks to the outstanding attempts made by Guilford and Torrance (Sternberg, 2009). In the modern world, creativity is fundamentally important in all aspects of life and since creativity is complex in nature different viewpoints have been put forward to explain the concept emphasizing different aspects of it (Sarsani, 2006).
“Creativity is generally characterized as the ability to create new and original products which are considered as appropriate for the features and limitations of a given task, where products can refer to a variety of ideas, viewpoints, and innovations” (Lubart, 1994, p.15). “These products must be original as they should not be just a mere copy of what already exists” (Lubart & Guignard, 2004, p. 43).
According to Sarsani (2005), “Philosophy sees creativity as a process of change” (p. 132). Education must thus “Enable people to generate and implement new ideas and to adapt positively to different changes in order to survive in the current world” (Jeffrey, Craft & Leibling, 2001, p. ix). In all actuality, “Creativity is an inherent aspect of all pedagogical tasks” (Mishan, 2005, p. 83).
Correspondingly, the ability to shift between different modes of styles and strategies while performing in a creative setting and understanding the relationship among these variables might provide an explanation on how well an individual corresponds to the phenomena of language learning.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In learning a second or foreign language, every language learner tries to cope with the problems in his/her own way. That is because every individual learns and organizes information in a unique perspective (Brown, 2007). In fact individual learner variables influence learning outcomes. These variables as Larsen-Freeman (1991) notes include age, socio-psychological factors, creativity, personality, cognitive style, hemisphere specialization, learning strategies, learning styles and other factors such as memory, gender, etc. In a view to the research done over the good language learners, Ehrman (1996) and O’ Malley & Chamot (1990) found that successful language learners are not characterized by their use of special strategies that others do not use, but instead by their ability to coordinate strategies with their own learning style preferences.
Beside language learning styles and language learning strategies, the importance of creativity in learning language cannot be underestimated. Ottó (1998) argues that creativity is an important factor which differs among individual learners.
Despite the indicated support of creativity as a prominent aspect of teaching/learning (Agarwal, 1992; Albert & Kormos 2011; Lee & Kim, 2011; Ormerod, Fritz, & Ridgway, 1999), little effort has been devoted to analyzing the variables that make learners more creative (Carter, 2004). Researches into language learning strategies and learning styles so far has been insufficient to find any relationships among the style preferences of learners, the strategies that learners use and the degree of creativity of language learners (Ghonsooly, 2012; Khaksar, 2008; Pishgadam, 2001; Salehi & Bagheri, 2011). Based on the above-mentioned points, it seems that knowing the possible relationship among language learning strategies, learning style preferences, and creativity may have a positive impact on language learning. Therefore, this study was intended to see whether there is a significant relationship among these three variables -use of language learning strategies, learning style preferences, and creativity, regarding EFL learners.
1.3 Statement of the Research Questions
To fulfill the objective of the present study, the following research questions were proposed:
Q1: Is there any significant relationship among EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies, learning style preferences, and creativity?
Q2: Is there any significant relationship between using different types of language learning strategies and learning style preferences by EFL learners?
Q3: Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies and their creativity?
Q4: Is there any significant relationship between EFL learners’ learning style preferences and their creativity?
Provided that a significant correlation is obtained for the variables, the following questions were also raised:
Q5: Is there any significant difference among EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies and learning style preferences in predicting creativity?
Q6: Do EFL learners’ learning style preferences predict their use of language learning strategies?
Q 7: Does EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies predict their creativity?
Q 8: Do EFL learners’ learning style preferences predict their creativity?
1.4 Statement of the Research Hypotheses
Based on the above-mentioned research questions, the following null hypotheses were raised:
H01: There is no significant relationship among EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies, learning style preferences, and creativity.
H02: There is no significant relationship between using different types of language learning strategies and learning style preferences by EFL learners.
H03: There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies and their creativity.
H04: There is no significant relationship between EFL learners’ learning style preferences and their creativity.
Provided that a significant correlation is obtained for the variables, the following hypotheses were also raised:
H05: There is no significant difference among EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies, and learning style preferences, in predicting creativity.
H06: EFL learners’ learning style preferences do not predict their use of language learning strategies.
H07: EFL learners’ use of language learning strategies does not predict their creativity.
H08: EFL learners’ learning style preferences do not predict their creativity.
1.5 Definition of Key Terms
1.5.1 Language Learning Strategies
Language learning strategies are specific actions, behaviors, steps, or techniques that students (often intentionally) use to improve their progress in developing L2 skills. These strategies can facilitate the internalization, storage, retrieval, or use of the new language (Oxford, 1990).
In this study language learning strategies are operationally defined as the score candidates obtained on the Persian version of the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) developed by Oxford (1990) and translated by Tahmasebi (1999). The questionnaire has 50 items, each item contains four-point Likert-type scale which is rated from 1 to 4 from “never true” to “always true”. The allocated time for answering the questionnaire is 20 minutes and the scores of the questionnaire ranged from 50 to 200.
1.5.2 Learning Style preferences
Dunn and Dunn (as cited in Reid, 1987) define learning styles as “a term that describes the variations among learners in using one or more senses to understand, organize and retain experience” (p. 89).
In this study learning styles are operationally defined as the scores candidates obtained on the Persian Version of Perceptual Learning Style Preference Survey (PLSP) developed by Reid (1987) and translated by Riazi and Mansoorian (2008). The questionnaire has 30 items; each item contains a five-Point Likert-type scale which is rated from 1 to 5 from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. The allocated time for answering the questionnaire is 20 minutes and the scores of the survey ranged from 30 to 150.
“The ability or the capacity of a person to discover and explore new areas to create or produce new idea, or theory or object including the arrangement or reshaping of what already exists” (Sarsani, 2005, p.105). Lefrancois (1994) describes creativity as “The capacity of individuals to produce novel or original answers or products” (p. 393).
In this study, creativity is operationally defined as the scores participants received on the Persian version of creativity questionnaire with 50 items. Each item contains three- point Likert-Type scale which is rated from 0 to 2 from least to most creative responses. The original English questionnaire was designed by O’Neil, Abedi, and Spielberger (1992). The questionnaire was translated by Daemi & Moghimi (2004) and validated by Zaker (2013). The allocated time for answering the questionnaire is 50 minutes and the scores of the questionnaire ranged from 0 to 100.
1.6 Significance of the Study
Language learning style preferences and language learning strategies are not only among the hot topics under the spotlight in the TEFL profession, but also are widely acknowledged to be among the cognitive factors which substantially impact, influence, and shape the process of learning English as a second/foreign language (Cohen, 1998; Reid, 1995).
Since the mid-1970s, close attention has been given to the role of strategies in second language learning (Anderson, 1991; Cohen, 1998; O’Malley & Chamot, 1990; Oxford, 1990; Rubin, 1975; Wenden, 1998). The early research identified the strategies that good language learners used while they got engaged in language learning tasks. According to Ehrman and Oxford (1990) language learning strategies are linked to learning styles. For example an auditory learner may apply a strategy of reading aloud to hear a text. So, Cohen (1998) suggests teachers should be aware of learners’ styles and a wide variety of strategies that are used for adopting these styles.
Also, creativity as a divergent activity that expands beyond current experience (Richards, 2003), is one of the most important issues in the field of second and foreign language teaching and learning. Creativity needs to be explored in relationship with other variables, which are in close contact with individual learners’ differences and might influence their performance in English programs in which English is used as the medium of instruction and communication in the classroom (Carter, 2004).
Therefore, inspecting the relationship among creativity, learning style preferences and language learning strategies seems to be an attempt, which appears so justified, essential, and promising toward elevation and advancement of classroom practice and teacher education.
In the context of classroom-based L2 learning and teaching, it is the task of the teacher to help learners reach a desired level of linguistic and pragmatic knowledge that addresses their needs, wants, and situations. In order to carry out such a task, the teacher should be aware of the factors and processes that are considered to facilitate L2 development (Bell, 2003; Kumaravadivelu, 2008, 2012).
But it seems that, most teachers tend to teach in the way they were taught or in the way they preferred to learn (Tabanloglu, 2003). Sometimes conflicts might arise because of a mismatch between the teacher’s teaching style and learner’s learning styles, which might have negative consequences both on the part of the learner and teacher. For this reason, as Stebbins (1995) asserts teachers should know the general learning style profiles of the whole class, which will enable them to organize and employ instructional materials accordingly.
Since the language learners themselves are on the focus of attention in the process of language learning (Kumaravadivelu, 2008, 2012; Nation & Macalister 2010; Yang, 1998) so, raising students’ awareness regarding their learning styles and strategies might make them not only more prepared for learning but also more analytic about their learning styles and the strategies they make use of to become more creative their learning. Reid (1995) states that developing an understanding of learning environments and styles “will enable students to take control of their learning and to maximize their potential for learning” (p. 25).
The results of this study may assist syllabus designers and curriculum developers to integrate creativity, learning styles, and language learning strategies into the body of EFL materials in a way that serves the purpose of instruction and teaching best. Moreover, possessing a higher degree of understanding regarding these variables (creativity, learning styles and strategies) would enable them to proffer the learners the capability to know how to learn a language more creatively, how to monitor themselves, and how to develop their learning in order to become effective and independent language learners (Nation & Macalister, 2010).
1.7 Limitations, Delimitations and Assumptions
Like any other studies, this research had certain limitations and delimitations.
The researcher deemed it necessary to place some limitations to extend as much as possible the accuracy and generalizability of its results.
• During the data gathering phase of the study, it was observed that the number of male and female participants in this study were not equal. As a result, gender may act as an intervening variable.
• The participants of the study were adults because the PLSP questionnaire has been designed for English second language learners at the university level (Wintergerst, Decapua & Verna, 2002). Therefore, the result of study cannot be generalized to other age groups.
• The researcher did not administer the questionnaires in different sessions due to practicality issues and the high probability of losing some of the participants because of their absence in different sessions. Therefore, doing the questionnaires consecutively might have influenced the participants’ responses to the questionnaires.
• No attempt was made to determine if any of the participants had training in creativity, learning styles, and language learning strategies.
The delimitations that the researcher puts are:
• Since Reid’s PLSP questionnaire has been designed for English language learners at the university level (Wintergersta, DeCapuab, & Verna, 2002), the participants of the study were deliberately selected from among the students who were studying English Translation and English Literature at Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch.
• The participants of the present study were deliberately selected from among sophomore and senior students majoring in English Translation and English Literature at Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch, based on the assumption that they had developed a wider range of learning strategies and were aware of the type of their learning style. Also, There was no chance, however to bring junior students into the study as there was no possibility for the researcher to use their class time for the purpose of the study.
• The researcher also limited the scope of this study to undergraduate students majoring in English Translation and English Literature at Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran in view of the fact that the number of undergraduate EFL learners significantly exceeds those of the graduate EFL learners in the context of this study.
• Before administering the Persian version of questionnaires, the participants were fully briefed on the process of completing the questionnaires; this briefing was given in Persian through explaining and exemplifying the process of choosing answers. The researcher intentionally randomized the order of administered questionnaires to control for the impact of order upon the completion process and validity of the data.
• To increase the tendency of the participants to answer the questionnaires more carefully and precisely, the researcher informed the participants that they will get their scores for each questionnaire via email or text message. In this way, it is expected that the participants will answer the questionnaires with more attention.
• It was assumed that all of the participants would fill out the questionnaires with full attention and honesty as the researcher announced that the results of the questionnaires would not have any effect on their final scores on the course and that they would be just used for the sake of the academic value of this research.
REVIEW OF THE RELATED
This study aimed at investigating the relationship among EFL learners’ language learning strategies, language learning styles, and creativity. In order to give readers some information about the underlying concepts and issues dealt with in this study, some related theories, studies, and findings are presented in this chapter.
1.2 Language Learning Strategies
Over the past two decades, research in second language education has largely focused on learner-centered approaches to second language teaching in an effort to lead learners towards autonomous and independent language learning (Reiss, 1985; Wenden, 1998; Tarone, 1981). At the same time, a shift of attention has taken place in second language acquisition research from the products of language learning to the processes through which learning takes place (Oxford, 1995). As a result of this change in emphasis, language learning strategies have emerged not only as integral components of various theoretical models of language proficiency but also as a means of achieving learners’ autonomy in the process of language learning.
Strategies are conscious actions that learners take to improve their language learning. Strategies are those specific “attacks” that we make on a given problem, and that vary considerably within each individual. They are the moment-by-moment techniques that we employ to solve “problems” posed by second language input and output.
1.2.1 Definitions of Language Learning Strategies
Within L2/FL education, a number of definitions of language learning strategies (LLS) have been used by key figures in the field. Early on, Tarone (1983) defined a learning strategy (LS) as “an attempt to develop linguistic and sociolinguistic competence in the target language to incorporate these into one’s interlanguage competence” (P.67). In a helpful survey article, Weinstein (1986) defined learning strategies (LS) broadly as “behaviors and thoughts that a learner engages in during learning” which are “intended to influence the learner’s encoding process” (P. 315). Rubin (1987) later wrote that LS “are strategies which contribute to the development of the language system which the learner constructs and affect learning directly.” (p. 22) Mayor (1988) more specifically defined LS as “behaviors of a learner that are intended to influence how the learner processes information” (p. 11).
In their seminal study, O’Malley and Chamot (1990) defined LS as “the special thoughts or behaviors that individuals use to help them comprehend, learn, or retain new information” (p. 1). Finally, building on work in her book for teachers, Oxford (1995) provides this helpful definition:
…Language learning strategies are specific actions, behaviors, steps, or techniques that students use (often intentionally) to improve their progress in developing L2 skills. These strategies can facilitate the internalization, storage, retrieval, or use of the new language. Strategies are tools for the self-directed involvement necessary for developing communicative ability. (p. 18)
Also, Chamot (2005) defines strategies quite broadly as “procedures that facilitate a learning task. Strategies are most often conscious and goal driven” (p. 112).
From these definitions, a change over time may be noted: from the early focus on the product of language learning strategies (LLS) (linguistic or sociolinguistic competence), there is now a greater emphasis on the processes and the characteristics of LLS. At the same time, we should note that LLS are distinct from learning styles, which refer more broadly to a learner’s “natural, habitual, and preferred way(s) of absorbing, processing, and retaining new information and skills (Reid, 1995), though there appears to be an obvious relationship between one’s language learning style and his or her usual or preferred language learning strategies (Lessard-Clouston, 1997).
Strategies are conscious actions that learners take to improve their language learning. Strategies may be observable, such as observing someone take notes during an academic lecture to recall information better, or they may be mental, such as thinking about what one already knows about a topic before reading a passage in a textbook. Because strategies are conscious, there is active involvement of second language learners in their selection and use of strategies. Anderson (1991) argues that strategy use can be seen as an orchestra. Strategies are not isolated actions, but there is a process of orchestrating more than one action to accomplish a second language task. Strategies are related to each other and must be viewed as a process and not a single action. Research shows that less successful language learners often use the same strategies over and over again and do not make significant progress in their tasks. They do not recognize that the strategies they are using are not helping them to accomplish their goal. These less successful language learners are unaware of strategies available to them to successfully accomplish a language task. Successful language learners have a wider source of strategies and use a variety of them to accomplish their task of learning a language.
2.2.2 Background of Research on Language Learning Strategies
Research into language learning strategies began in the 1960s. Particularly, developments in cognitive psychology influenced much of the research done on language learning strategies (Williams and Burden, 1997). In 1966, Cartoon (cited in Rubin 1975) published his study entitled “The Method of inference in Foreign Language Study” which was the first attempt on learner strategies. After Cartoon, in 1975, Rubin started doing research focusing on the strategies of successful learners and stated that, once identified such strategies could be made available to less successful learners. Rubin (1975) classified strategies in terms of processes contributing directly or indirectly to language learning.
Bialystok, (1979); Chamot & O’Malley, (1987); Cohen and Aphek, (1981); Naiman, Frolich, Stern, & Todesko, (1978); Politzer & McGroarty, (1985); Tarone, (1983); Wenden, (1982); Wong-Fillmore, (1976) and many others studied strategies used by language learners during the process of foreign language learning. In most of the research on language learning strategies, the primary concern has been on identifying what good learners report they do to learn a second or foreign language, or, in some cases, are observed doing while learning a second or foreign language.
2.2.3 Taxonomies of Language Learning Strategies
Many scholars in the field such as Rubin (1987), O’Malley and Chamot (1990), Oxford (1990), etc. have classified language-learning strategies. However, most of these attempts to classify LLS reflect more or less the same categorization without any drastic changes. Below Rubin’s (1987), O’Malley and Chamot’s (1990), & Oxford’s (1990) taxonomies of LLS are presented.
220.127.116.11 Rubin’s Taxonomy
Rubin (1987), who is the pioneer in the field of LLS, draws a distinction between strategies directly contributing to learning and those contributing indirectly. According to Rubin (1987), there are three types of strategies used by learners that contribute directly or indirectly to language learning.
The first category, Learning Strategies, consists of two main types: Cognitive and Metacognitive Learning Strategies. They are thought to be strategies directly contributing to the language system constructed by the learner.
Cognitive Learning Strategies (CLS) refer to the steps or processes used in learning or problem-solving tasks that require direct analysis, transformation, or synthesis of learning materials (Rubin, 1987). Rubin (1987) identified six main CLS directly contributing to language learning: Clarification/Verification, Guessing/Inductive Inferencing, Deductive Reasoning, Practice, Memorization, and Monitoring.
Metacognitive Learning Strategies (MLS) are used to supervise, control or self-direct language learning. They involve a variety of processes as planning, prioritizing, setting goals, and self-management (Rubin, 1987).
The second category consists of Communication Strategies, which are less directly related to language learning because they focus on the process of participating in a conversation and getting meaning across or clarifying what the speaker intended. These strategies are used by speakers when they are confronted with misunderstanding by a co-speaker (Rubin, 1987)
Social Strategies comprise the last category, which are manipulated when the learners are engaged in tasks that afford them opportunities to be exposed to and practice their knowledge. Even though these strategies provide exposure to the target language, they contribute indirectly to the obtaining, storing, retrieving, and using of language (Wenden & Rubin, 1987, pp. 23-27).
18.104.22.168 O’Malley’s Classification of Language Learning Strategies
O’Malley, Chamot, Stewner-Manzanares, Russo, Küpper (1985, pp. 582-584) divide language-learning strategies into three main subcategories: Metacognitive Strategies, Cognitive Strategies, and Socioaffective Strategies.
It can be stated that metacognitive Strategy is a term which refers to the executive skills, strategies which require planning for learning, thinking about the learning processes that is taking place, monitoring of one’s production or comprehension, and evaluating learning after an activity is completed. Strategies such as self-monitoring, self-evaluation, advance organizers, self- management, and selective attention can be placed among the main metacognitive strategies.
When compared to metacognitive strategies, it can be stated that Cognitive Strategies are not only more limited to specific learning tasks but they also involve more direct manipulation of the learning material itself. Among the most important cognitive strategies are repetition, elaboration, contextualization, auditory representation, transfer, etc.
Regarding the Socioaffective Strategies, it can be stated that they involve interaction with another person. They are generally considered to be applicable to various tasks. Questioning for clarification, cooperation with others to solve a problem, rephrasing, and self-talk are some examples of socioaffective strategies.
22.214.171.124 Oxford’s Classification of Language Learning Strategies
Among all the existing learning strategy taxonomies Oxford (1990) provides the most extensive classification of LLS developed so far. However, when analyzed, her classification is not something completely different from the previously discussed ones. On the contrary, Oxford’s taxonomy overlaps with O’Malley’s (1985) taxonomy to a great extent. For instance, the Cognitive Strategies category in O’Malley’s classification seems to cover both the Cognitive and Memory Strategies in Oxford’s taxonomy. Moreover, while O’Malley puts socioaffective strategies in one category, Oxford deals with them as two separate categories. Yet, a significant difference in Oxford’s classification is the addition of the compensation strategies, which have not been treated in any of the major classification systems earlier.
Generally speaking, Oxford’s taxonomy consists of two major LLS categories, the Direct and Indirect Strategies. Direct strategies are those behaviors that directly involve the use of the target language, which directly facilitates language learning. Oxford (1990) resembles the direct strategies to the performers in a stage play, whereas she takes after the indirect strategies to the director of the same play.