The Motivation Conundrum: What motivates university students in an EAP program?




EAP, EFL, motivation, tertiary education, students' attitudes


The purpose of the research project described in this paper is to examine the salient features of motivation driving tertiary level learners of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) in the Israeli student population at Bar Ilan University. The quantitative study included 228 undergraduate university EAP students studying in various disciplines. Dornyei’s L2 Motivational Self-System Questionnaire was translated to Hebrew and modified for cultural appropriateness and language clarity. Exploratory factor analysis of the students' answers revealed seven salient features, ranked from highest to lowest, underlying motivation in second language learning with varying degrees of perceived importance. The results present an Israeli perspective which differs from other studies conducted on English Foreign Language (EFL) populations. This leads to the conclusion that a broad perspective toward motivation in the language classroom is important in order to understand motivation among EAP students. Implications for pedagogy and suggestions for future research are explored and discussed.

Author Biographies

  • Keren Goldfrad, Bar-Ilan University

    Keren Goldfrad (PhD) is a senior lecturer in the EFL Unit at Bar-Ilan University, where she held the position of department chair from 2015-2021. Her courses focus on teaching English for academic purposes for undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, Keren was the director of the Teaching Enhancement Center at Bar-Ilan University for six years and currently serves as the Head of the Employability Center.

  • Simone Sandler, Bar-Ilan University

    Simone Sandler is a Senior Lecturer in Bar Ilan University, where she teaches English for Academic Purposes at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She was chosen as an Outstanding Lecturer at Bar Ilan, and has received the Rector’s Award for Excellent Teaching. Her research interests are in motivation and EMI.

  • Julia Borenstein, Bar-Ilan University

    Julia Borenstein (PhD) is retired Chair and Senior Lecturer in EFL Unit at Bar Ilan University. Her interests are in Foreign Language learning and teaching as well as student evaluation of faculty members. She taught both undergraduate and graduate students in EFL for many years and was involved in developing teaching materials and tools of assessment.

  • Elisheva Ben-Artzi, Bar-Ilan University

    Elisheva Ben-Artzi (PhD) is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. She teaches various methodological and statistical courses for undergraduate and graduate students and provides statistical assistance to the university staff. She published nearly 40 peer-reviewed papers, focusing on language and memory processes.


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Original Research

How to Cite

Goldfrad, K., Sandler, S., Borenstein, J. ., & Ben-Artzi, E. (2023). The Motivation Conundrum: What motivates university students in an EAP program?. Journal of Language Teaching, 3(7), 19-28.

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