EFL Learners’ Attributions and Causal Dimensionality Styles in the Chinese Higher Education Context

Ayse Taskiran, Wenzhou-Kean University, China
Hong Pan, Wenzhou-Kean University, China
Email: ataskira@kean.edu
Published: June 1, 2024

Citation: Taskiran, A., & Pan, H. (2024). EFL Learners’ Attributions and Causal Dimensionality Styles in the Chinese Higher Education Context. IAFOR Journal of Education12(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ije.12.1.04


Achievement motivation is a significant contributor to the foreign language learning process. This study explored the achievement perceptions of English as a foreign language (EFL) learners who were studying at different higher education institutions with dissimilar degree programs, such as a vocational college, an undergraduate program in a public university, and Sino-American university undergraduate and graduate programs in China. The study also aimed to reveal EFLs’ causal attributions of success and their underlying dimensionality styles through an open-ended questionnaire and the Causal Attribution Dimensions Scale (CDSII) (McAuley et al., 1992). Findings revealed that two thirds of the participants perceived themselves as unsuccessful learners. Both in success and failure conditions the participants had similar attributions naming effort, interest, and ability as the most frequent ones. The attributions for close ended question did not show difference across school types. Qualitative data revealed more themes for failure, and the data showed some differences across the school types. Environment and relevance to life/career attributions were the most common in both success and failure conditions. Causal dimensionality analysis revealed more internal, personally controllable stable and moderately externally manageable attributional styles for success, and more internal and personally controllable attributional styles for failure. Findings were compared and discussed according to school types.


attributions, EFL, motivation, causal dimensions, Chinese higher education