An investigation of factors involved in Japanese students’ English learning behavior during test preparation
Takanori Sato, Sophia University, Japan
Volume 8, Issue 1, 2019
Abstract: Japan has recently been promoting university entrance examination reform with the goal of positively influencing students’ English learning, but the extent to which entrance examinations themselves affect English learning is not known. The promotion of better learning requires changing the factors that affect learning behavior, rather than merely modifying existing examinations or introducing new ones. This study investigated the factors determining Japanese students’ English learning while they prepared for high-stakes university entrance examinations, aiming to construct a model that explicates how test-related and test-independent factors are intertwined. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 first-year university students asking how they had prepared for their examinations and why they had chosen particular preparation methods. After thematic analysis, four main factors in student learning behavior were identified (examination, student views, school, and examination-independent factors) and their relationships explored. The study findings provide useful insights for policymakers in English as a foreign language (EFL) educational contexts, where English tests are used as part of language education policies. Furthermore, the proposed model is theoretically important as it explains the complex washback mechanism and deepens our understanding of why intended washback effects on learning are not necessarily achieved.
Keywords: washback, entrance examination, English learning, test preparation, EFL