Exploring the construct of teacher self-disclosure and its connection to situational interest, intended effort, and the learning experience in a foreign language learning context
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Educators are commonly concerned about how to trigger students' interest in the classroom, as well as how to create a learning experience in which students are engaged and motivated to invest effort and time. Similarly, researchers have explored these variables and aimed to establish a better understanding of how students' interest is developed. Yet, less attention has been paid to teacher self-disclosure as a factor in students' learning experiences and interest development. Although teacher self-disclosure has commonly been addressed in connection with the teacher-student relationship it has not been linked to interest development. Therefore, with the goal of exploring the construct of teacher self-disclosure, this study explored associations and interactions of perceptions of teacher self-disclosure and of students' individual and situational interest in a language learning context. In addition, students' ratings of the learning experience and intended effort were added to investigate associations between these student variables and their perceptions of teacher self-disclosure and interest. Data were collected in language classes of 16 different instructors. In total, 185 students participated in the qualitative part of the study, Phase 1, by filling out surveys at the beginning and end of the semester. For the main analysis, correlation and regression analyses were used in order to explore the relations between students' perceptions of teacher self-disclosure and initial individual interest, situational interest, the learning experience, and intended effort. Further, a total of nine instructors and eight students participated in the qualitative part, Phase 2, by agreeing to be observed and interviewed. Here, the focus was on describing and assessing the use of teacher self-disclosure in language classes. Results indicated that teachers were rated as varying in their self-disclosure, but that self-disclosure did not account for much of the variance in students' situational interest. Qualitative results showed that students perceived teacher self-disclosure to be an important communication strategy and one of the influential variables an instructor can bring into the learning experience. Overall, this study makes a contribution to understanding the complexity and interactions of student and teacher variables that are crucial to establish a functioning student-teacher relationship and subsequently healthy learning experience.