The effect of topic interest and choice in second language journal writing


  • John Eidswick Kyoto Sangyo University
  • Mayumi Asaba Kwansei Gakuin University



interest, choice, motivation, Educational Psychology


This study investigates the influences of interest and choice on the production of second language (L2) journal entries by first-year students (N = 88, 55 female, 33 male) at a university in western Japan. Between treatment groups and a neutral group, several aspects of writing were examined: total words, words per sentence, grammatical accuracy, and lexical sophistication (K1, K2, and AWL words). Further enquiry into students' preferred choice conditions was conducted with a post-treatment questionnaire. The results suggest that the provision of choice and interestingness of a topic affect some of the variables but not others. Pedagogical implications and suggested future research are discussed.

Author Biographies

John Eidswick, Kyoto Sangyo University

John Eidswick is Associate Professor at the Institute of General Education, Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan.

Mayumi Asaba, Kwansei Gakuin University

Mayumi Asaba is Assistant Professor at the School of International Studies, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan.


Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (1998). Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource? Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(5), 1252-1265.

Cobb, T. (2003). VocabProfiler. [computer program]. Retrieved 15 Sept 2015 at

Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly, 34, 213-238

Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 627–66.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior (Perspectives in Social Psychology). New York, NY: Plenum Press.

Dewey, J. (1913). Interest and effort in education. Boston, MA: Riverside Press.

Dweck, C. S., Mangels, J. A., & Good, C. (2004). Motivational effects on attention, cognition, and performance. In D.Y. Dai, & R.J. Sternberg (Eds), Motivation, Emotion, and Cognition (pp. 41-55). London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Finley, R. (1999). SurveyMonkey [Computer Software]. Palo Alto, CA: SurveyMonkey, Inc. Retrieved from

Flowerday, T., & Schraw, G. (2000). Teacher beliefs about instructional choice: A phenomenological study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(4), 634-645.

Flowerday, T., Schraw, G., & Stevens, J. (2004). The role of choice and interest in reader engagement. The Journal of Experimental Education, 72(2), 93-114. doi:10.3200/JEXE.72.2.93-114

Gradwohl, J. M., & Schumacher, G. M. (1989). The relationship between content knowledge and topic choice in writing. Written Communication, 6(2), 181- 195. doi:10.1177/0741088389006002003

Hidi, S., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2000). Motivating the academically unmotivated: A critical issue for the 21st century. Review of Educational Research, 70, 151-179. doi:10.3102/00346543070002151

Iyengar, S. S., & Lepper, M. R. (1999). Rethinking the value of choice: a cultural perspective on intrinsic motivation. Journal of personality and social psychology, 76(3), 349-366.

Klugkist, I. (2008). Encompassing prior based model selection for inequality constrained analysis of variance. In H. Hoijtink, I. Klugkist, & P. A. Boelen (Eds.), Bayesian evaluation of informative hypotheses (pp. 53-83). New York, NY: Springer.

Langer, J. A. (1983). Effects of topic knowledge on the quality and coherence of informational writing. Retrieved from ERIC:

Lepper, M. R., & Henderlong, J. (2000). Turning "play" into "work" and "work" into "play": 25 years of research on intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. In C. Sansone, & J. Harackiewicz (Eds.), Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: The Search for Optimal Motivation and Performance (pp. 257-307). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Lindqvist, C., Gudmundson, A., & Bardel, C. A. (2013). New approach to measuring lexical sophistication in L2 oral production [Monograph]. Retrieved from

Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological review, 98(2), 224-253.

McCutchen, D. (1986). Domain knowledge and linguistic knowledge in the development of writing ability. Journal of Memory and Language, 25(4). 431-444. doi: 10.1016/0749-596X(86)90036-7

Myers, D. G. (2000). The funds, friends, and faith of happy people. American psychologist, 55(1), 56-67.

Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Robinson, J. C. (2008). The effects of choice on intrinsic motivation and related outcomes: a meta-analysis of research findings. Psychological bulletin, 134(2), 270-300.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.

Reynolds, P. L., & Symons, S. (2001). Motivational variables and children's text search. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1), 14-22.

Schiefele, U. (1999). Interest and learning from text. Scientific studies of reading, 3(3), 257-279. doi:10.1207/s1532799xssr0303_4

Schraw, G., Flowerday, T., & Lehman, S. (2001). Increasing situational interest in the classroom. Educational Psychology Review, 13(3), 211-224. doi:10.1023/A:1016619705184

Schraw, G., Flowerday, T., & Reisetter, M. F. (1998). The role of choice in reader engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(4), 705-714.

Shirey, L. (1992). Importance, interest, and selective attention. In A. Renninger, S. Hidi, & A. Krapp (Eds.), The Role of Interest in Learning and Development (pp. 81-296). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Sullivan, A. S. (2007). The effects of topic choice and prompts on student writing and student attitudes about writing (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A& I (3277040)

Wade, S. E., & Adams, R. B. (1990). Effects of importance and interest on recall of biographical text. Journal of Literacy Research, 22(4), 331-353. doi:10.1080/10862969009547717

West, M. (1953). A general service list of English words. London: Longman, Green.

Zamel, V. (1983). The composing processes of advanced ESL students: Six case studies. TESOL Quarterly, 17, 165-187. doi:10.2307/3586647

Zimbardo, P. G., Weisenberg, M., Firestone, I., & Levy, B. (1965). Communicator effectiveness in producing public conformity and private attitude change1. Journal of Personality, 33(2), 233-255.

Zuckerman, M., Porac, J., Lathin, D., Smith, R., & Deci, E. L. (1978). On the importance of self-determination for intrinsically-motivated behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4(3), 443-446. doi:10.1177/014616727800400317



How to Cite

Eidswick, J., & Asaba, M. (2018). The effect of topic interest and choice in second language journal writing. Writing and Pedagogy, 10(1-2), 161–190.



Research Matters