Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Swaminathan Hariharan; Manuela M. Wagner

Field of Study

Educational Psychology


Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access



The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of problem-based learning on 9th grader Chinese students’ performance on writing, speaking and self-efficacy in learning English. Of particular interest to this study was the comparison of problem-based learning with the traditional Chinese learning method for improving students’ performance on English language writing and speaking, and in addition, students’ self-efficacy towards English learning. An empirical experiment was conducted in Qingdao No.2 high school in Shandong province, China. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. The findings show that students using the problem-based learning method tend to have stronger self-efficacy in English learning than students using traditional English learning methods. In addition, students have demonstrated positive attitudes toward problem-based learning in English learning. However, students’ writing and speaking performances (both language performance and higher-order thinking skills in writing and speaking) through problem-based learning were not significantly improved when compared to students adopting the traditional English learning method.

Keywords: Problem-based learning, English language learning in China, self-efficacy for English writing and speaking, higher-order thinking skills

Major Advisor

Scott W. Brown