Mitigating the effects of gender in L2 motivation and learning through the use of electronic portfolios

Rivista di Psicolinguistica Applicata / Journal of Applied Psycholinguistics

Motivation and self-regulation are considered key variables in the successful attainment
of a foreign language, within which learner self-concept is a pivotal factor. As a transportable
identity, gender is always present and permeates the development of any self-concept dimension. In
L2 learning, improvement of the self-concept appears to be more propitious among female students,
suggesting practitioners challenge gender intensification in the classroom. The integration of technology
as an education skill may be the key to countervailing these effects. While male students’ positive
attitudes towards using technology in the classroom may benefit L2 learning, female students’ interest
in technology remains underdeveloped. This study explores whether possible selves underpinned by
digital technology can serve to mitigate gender bias in L2 acquisition, motivation and self-regulation,
while fostering digital literacy in the L2 classroom. To achieve these aims, a 6-week mixed-methods
intervention study based on possible selves through electronic portfolios was conducted on 205 international
undergraduate students learning English at a British university. A questionnaire was
designed to collect data on students’ pre-post scores on L2 motivation and self-regulated learning,
while proficiency gains were examined based on students’ summative assessments. The qualitative
data came from 13 semi-guided focus questions inquiring after the reflections of students on possible
selves through ePortfolios. The findings of this study conclude that increased gender equality was
correlational to the degree of ePortfolio implementation.