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Changing Language Learning Mindsets: The Role of Implicit Theories of L2 Intelligence for Goal Orientations and Responses to Failure Open Access


Other title
goal orientations
second language learning
L2 competence
Implicit theories
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lou, Man-Tou
Supervisor and department
Noels, Kimberly (Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Daniels, Lia (Educational Psychology)
Masuda, Takahiko (Psychology)
Ranta, Leila (Educational Psychology)
Department of Psychology

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
Most people likely hold mindsets, or beliefs, about language learning. Some people ascribe successful second language (L2) learning to a natural talent or an innate ability that cannot be further developed (i.e., an entity mindset), while other people believe that L2 learning is a flexible ability that can be improved (i.e., an incremental mindset). The mindsets that we hold orient our approach to the learning task at hand. This research applied Dweck’s (1999) implicit theories framework to the L2 context to understand the causal relation among students’ mindsets, goal orientations (i.e., learning goal, performance-approach goal, and performance-avoidance goal) and responses to failure situations (i.e., mastery response, helpless response, anxiety, and fear of failure). University students (N = 150) who registered a L2 class were randomly assigned to two experimental conditions in which different mindsets were primed, and then they complete a questionnaire about their L2 goals and responses in failure situations. The results showed that priming for an incremental mindsets, regardless of their perceived L2 ability, participants set higher learning goals and in turn expressed more mastery-orientated responses in failure situations. L2 learners who were primed for an entity theory, if they perceived themselves to have strong L2 skills, set higher performance-approach goals and in turn were more fearful of failure. The implications of these findings for L2 education are discussed in terms of changing L2 learners mindsets.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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