Katie Bokan-Smith


PhD candidate


Phone: +61 2 9351  6358


Building.Room: A36.405


second language acquisition, motivational teaching strategies, ESL/EFL context, student perceptions, teaching knowledge and cognition

Research project description

This research study investigates the role of the language teacher in the English as a second language (ESL) adult classroom in Australia. The study will apply Dornyei's (2001) motivational strategies framework in order to explore the impact teachers have on learner motivation and students' perceptions of motivational teaching strategies. Using a mixed methods approach (quan + QUAL) (Creswell, 2009), this study implements several methods for data collection: a teacher and student questionnaire followed by classroom observations and semi-structured interviews with ESL teachers and their students. The mixed methods approach will provide a richer picture and more insight into teachers' knowledge and motivational practices as well as the perceptions of their students. There has been little research to date that has implemented both quantitative and qualititative data to better understand the role of teaching strategies within the ESL adult context. Implications for this research are that teachers can better understand how their teaching practices affect student motivation and teachers can reflect on their own practices in the ESL context. 


Katie Bokan-Smith is an experienced English teacher at the high school and adult levels. She began her teaching career in the US after graduating with a double major (English and French) from the University of California, Berkeley in 2008. After graduation, Katie worked as a high school English literature and French teacher while simultaneously working towards her California teaching credential and TESOL certificate.  Her passion for teaching and love of languages fueled her decision to enroll in a higher degree MA program at Saint Mary's College of California. In 2009, she enrolled in a Master of Arts (TESOL) program and completed her research thesis on the role of motivation in high school French settings with her own students volunteering as participants. In 2010, Katie lived and taught in Japan (JET program) and this is where her interest in international learners of English originated. Katie currently teaches part time at an adult language school in Sydney and tutors in the Faculty of Education in the area of Teaching and Methodology (with Professor Marie Stevenson).  



  • International Postgraduate Research Scholarship 2012-2015

  • Australian Postgraduate Award 2012-2015

  • Robert Power Fellowship Recipient 2009

Thesis work

Project title Degree Supervisor
Theory into practice: An observational investigation of students’ perceptions and teachers’ motivational strategies in adult ESL classrooms in Australia PhD Honorary Senior Lecturer Lindy Woodrow

Selected publications


  • Bokan-Smith, K.E. (2013). Teacher Development: Motivating the Unmotivated in the Foreign Language Classroom, English Teacher Professional Magazine.
  • Bokan-Smith, K.E. (2010). Motivational factors on enrollment and sustained interest in high school French., Saint Mary's College of California: Masters Thesis.