Aimin Liao

Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Todd Lilly


This action research investigated Chinese international students’ motivational/demotivational factors and their perspectives on Virginia Tech’s non-mandatory events. The theoretical framework guided the research questions, literature reviews, and data design collection/analysis process. The self-determination theory provided the primary motivational factors for Chinese international students. The literacy/discourse theory explained their difficulties when practicing secondary Discourses in an American college. This action research utilized open-ended surveys and semi-structured interviews to understand Chinese international students’ motivations, struggles, and feedback in non-mandatory event participation. The qualitative research findings indicated that Chinese international students are motivated by autonomy, competency, and relatedness. Some Chinese international students’ inadequate language/cultural competency, awareness level, and lack of needs demotivate their motivations to participate in optional events. Future research directions and recommendations for non-mandatory events’ designs, promotions, and implementations are provided.