ArticlePDF Available

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective: Definitions, theory, practices, and future directions

  • Australian Catholic University North Sydney


Self-determination theory (SDT) is a broad framework for understanding factors that facilitate or undermine intrinsic motivation, autonomous extrinsic motivation, and psychological wellness, all issues of direct relevance to educational settings. We review research from SDT showing that both intrinsic motivation and well-internalized (and thus autonomous) forms of extrinsic motivation predict an array of positive outcomes across varied educational levels and cultural contexts and are enhanced by supports for students’ basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Findings also show a dynamic link between teacher and student motivation, as teachers are themselves impacted and constrained by controlling mandates, institutional pressures, and leadership styles. Ironically, despite substantial evidence for the importance of psychological need satisfactions in learning contexts, many current educational policies and practices around the globe remain anchored in traditional motivational models that fail to support students’ and teachers’ needs, a knowledge versus policy gap we should aspire to close.
Contemporary Educational Psychology !
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective:
Definitions, theory, practices, and future directions
Richard M. Ryan & Edward L. Deci
Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, Australia
University of Rochester, United States
Self-determination theory (SDT) is a broad framework for understanding factors that facilitate or
undermine intrinsic motivation, autonomous extrinsic motivation, and psychological wellness, all
issues of direct relevance to educational settings. We review research from SDT showing that
both intrinsic motivation and well- internalized (and thus autonomous) forms of extrinsic
motivation predict an array of positive outcomes across varied educational levels and cultural
contexts and are enhanced by supports for students’ basic psychological needs for autonomy,
competence, and relatedness. Findings also show a dynamic link between teacher and student
motivation, as teachers are themselves impacted and constrained by controlling mandates,
institutional pressures, and leadership styles. Ironically, despite substantial evidence for the
importance of psychological need satisfactions in learning contexts, many current educational
policies and practices around the globe remain anchored in traditional motivational models that
fail to support students’ and teachers’ needs, a knowledge versus policy gap we should aspire to
Twenty years ago, in a special issue of Contemporary Educational Psychology, we reviewed
definitions and research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000), which at that
time was still an emerging field of study. In the two decades since, the field has rapidly matured
and much has been learned about these two major types of motivation, especially within the
framework of self-determination theory (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2017), a broad theory of human
development and wellness, with strong implications for education. SDT has been part of a
“Copernican turn” in the field, as unlike behavioristic approaches, which attempt to shape and
control motivation from the outside, SDT places its emphasis on people’s inherent motivational
propensities for learning and growing, and how they can be supported. In this brief review of
SDT, we discuss the current status of the theory, its methods, its practical utility, and its future
directions both as a framework for basic sciences in motivation, and as an evidence base for 21st
century educational policies and practice.
As an organismic theory, SDT assumes people are inherently prone toward psychological growth
and integration, and thus toward learning, mastery and connection with others. However, these
proactive human tendencies are not seen as automatic—they require supportive conditions to be
robust. SDT specifically argues that for healthy development to unfold individuals require
supports for basic psychological needs (Ryan, Ryan, Di Domenico, & Deci, 2019). Three needs
are seen as particularly fundamental, namely those for autonomy, competence and relatedness.
Autonomy concerns a sense of initiative and ownership in one’s actions. It is supported by
experiences of interest and value and under- mined by experiences of being externally controlled,
whether by re- wards or punishments. Competence concerns the feeling of mastery, a sense that
one can succeed and grow. The need for competence is best satisfied within well-structured
environments that afford optimal challenges, positive feedback, and opportunities for growth.
Finally, relatedness concerns a sense of belonging and connection. It is facilitated by conveyance
of respect and caring. Thwarting of any of these three basic needs is seen as damaging to
motivation and wellness. Accordingly, SDT’s analysis of educational settings is primarily
focused on the extent to which they meet or frustrate these basic needs.
Of interest in this review are the effects of SDT’s basic psychological need satisfactions and
supports in the classroom on both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational processes, and students’
well-being and academic performance. First, we revisit classic definitions of intrinsic and
extrinsic motivation, before reviewing contemporary research on how these motivations are
affected by classroom practices, especially teachers’ support of learners’ basic psychological
needs. SDT argues that need supports enhance intrinsic motivation and internalization, resulting
in higher achievement, whereas, paradoxically, attempting to control achievement outcomes
directly through extrinsic rewards, sanctions, and evaluations generally backfires, leading to
lower-quality motivation and performance.
Yet more important than achievement outcomes, in our view, is students’ psychological growth
and wellness. Although not all students can or will excel at the cognitive agendas that are the
central focus in many schools, schools should nonetheless be supportive contexts for
development, provide conditions that enhance students’ adaptive capacities and mental health,
and, importantly, do no harm. SDT research shows that support for basic psychological needs
fosters students’ wellness, a pattern evident across age, ethnicity, and culture, and that need
thwarting causes harms. Basic need support is especially important given the diversity of
learners, and we discuss the particularly central role of autonomy support in fostering inclusive
environments. We also consider how an atmosphere conducive to thriving students requires
thriving teachers, and thus the importance of supporting teachers’ basic psychological needs.
Finally, we discuss the gap between many educational policies and practices around the globe
and the empirically identified needs of students and teachers. We conclude with considering the
future directions SDT research, interventions, and theorizing may take.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation within SDT
Intrinsic motivation
SDT research began with a focus on intrinsic motivation, which is a prototypical expression of
the active integrative tendencies in human nature assumed by SDT. Technically intrinsic
motivation pertains to activities done “for their own sake,” or for their inherent interest and
enjoyment (Deci & Ryan, 2000). Play, exploration and curiosity- spawned activities exemplify
intrinsically motivated behaviors, as they are not dependent on external incentives or pressure,
but rather provide their own satisfactions and joys. Although “fun,” such inherent propensities
toward interested engagement and mastery are also serious organismic business; intrinsic
motivation is likely responsible for the preponderance of human learning across the life span, as
opposed to externally mandated learning and instruction (Ryan & Deci, 2017).
The benefits of intrinsic motivation are also obvious within formal education. For example, a
meta-analysis by Taylor et al. (2014) pointed to a significant role of intrinsic motivation in
school achievement. Taylor et al. followed this meta-analysis with additional studies of high
school and college students in Canada and Sweden, showing that intrinsic motivation was
consistently associated with higher performance, controlling for baseline achievement. Froiland
and Worrell (2016) convergently showed that intrinsic motivation predicted student engagement,
which, in turn, predicted higher achievement (GPA), results that remained consistent when
limiting analyses to African American and Latino students.
Despite such findings attesting to the importance of intrinsic motivation, research from multiple
countries suggests that it tends to decline over the school years—at least for school-related
activities (e.g., Lepper, Corpus, & Iyengar, 2005; Gillet, Vallerand, & Lafreniere, 2012;
Gottfried, Marcoulides, Gottfried, Oliver, & Guerin, 2007; Scherrer & Preckel, 2019). This
suggests to us that schools are not creating the need-supportive contexts that foster this inner
resource, an interpretation supported by Gnambs & Hanfstingl, 2016 analysis showing that
declines in intrinsic motivation are associated with decreasing psychological need satisfaction.
Extrinsic motivation
Often contrasted with intrinsic motivation is the heterogeneous category of extrinsic motivation,
which concerns behaviors done for reasons other than their inherent satisfactions. From an SDT
view the contrast is not a simple one, because instrumental motivations can vary widely in
content and character. Accordingly, SDT has long specified four major subtypes of extrinsic
motivation, illustrated in Figure 1. External regulation concerns behaviors driven by externally
imposed re- wards and punishments and is a form of motivation typically experienced as
controlled and non-autonomous. Introjected regulation concerns extrinsic motivation that has
been partially internalized; behavior is regulated by the internal rewards of self-esteem for
success and by avoidance of anxiety, shame, or guilt for failure. In academic activities
introjected regulation often takes the form of ego-involvement (Ryan, 1982) in which self-
esteem is contingent on outcomes, resulting in “internally controlled” regulation.
Whereas both external regulation and introjection represent con- trolled forms of motivation,
extrinsic motivation can also be autonomously enacted. In identified regulation, the person
consciously identifies with, or personally endorses, the value of an activity, and thus experiences
a relatively high degree of volition or willingness to act. Yet the most autonomous form of
extrinsic motivation is integrated regulation in which the person not only recognizes and
identifies with the value of the activity, but also finds it to be congruent with other core interests
and values. Autonomous extrinsic motivations share with intrinsic motivation the quality of
being highly volitional, but differ primarily in that intrinsic motivation is based in interest and
enjoyment—people do these behaviors because they find them engaging or even fun, whereas
identified and integrated motivations are based on a sense of value—people view the activities as
worthwhile, even if not enjoyable. Fig. 1 also depicts a sixth category of amotivation, which
refers to lacking intentionality. Amotivation, all too common in class- room settings, can result
from either lack of felt competence to perform, or lack of value or interest. Amotivation has been
a strong negative predictor of engagement, learning, and wellness.
Multiple motives and relative autonomy
Although differing in character and content, these varied forms of motivation or regulatory styles
are arranged in Figure 1 along a continuum reflecting their relative autonomy. Much research has
verified the “ordered” relations among categories consistent with the SDT relative autonomy
model (e.g., Chatzisarantis, Hagger, Biddle, Smith, & Wang, 2003; Howard, Gagné, & Bureau,
2017). Yet SDT also recognizes that most intentional behaviors are multiply motivated (e.g., see
Litalien et al., 2017). People can, for example, be simultaneously intrinsically motivated and
identified for some actions, or both externally regulated and introjected, etc. Thus, in addition to
looking at the unique properties of each motive type, scores reflecting either overall relative au-
tonomy or summary scores for autonomous and controlled motives are often applied (see Ryan
& Deci, 2017). There is also a growing interest in person-centered analyses in which profiles of
motivation are generated (e.g., Wang et al., 2017). However assessed, data show that greater
relative autonomy for learning (or teaching) predicts a variety of key educational outcomes, as
we shall further review.
SDT research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in classrooms
Among the core hypotheses of SDT in education are that: (a) more autonomous forms of
motivation will lead to an enhancement of students’ engagement, learning, and wellness; and (b)
that basic psycho- logical need support from both teachers and parents facilitates such
motivation, whereas need thwarting undermines it. These hypotheses have been well supported
across hundreds of studies, at every level of development, and across varied learning contents
and cultural contexts.
First, a large empirically-based literature has demonstrated the positive relations of more
autonomous forms of classroom motivation with academic outcomes (Howard et al., 2017;
Grolnick, Ryan, & Deci, 1991; Guay, Ratelle, Roy, & Litalien, 2010; Katz, Eilot, & Nevo, 2014;
Grolnick & Ryan, 1989; and others). This is likely due in part to the greater effort students put
forth when autonomously motivated (León, Núñez, & Liew, 2015). In addition, the more
internalized the motivation, the more it becomes part of a learner’s identity. For example,
Skinner, Saxton, Currie, and Shusterman (2017) showed that basic need satisfaction was
associated not only with higher engagement and performance in STEM courses, but also greater
identification of oneself as a scientist.
Second, basic psychological need supports have shown robust positive effects on school
outcomes. Studies show that students of more autonomy-supportive teachers have more intrinsic
motivation, perceived competence, and self-esteem (e.g., Deci, Schwartz, Sheinman, & Ryan,
1981; Ryan & Grolnick, 1986), better grades (Guay & Vallerand, 1997) greater internalization
for learning activities, and lower dropout (e.g., Hardré & Reeve, 2003; Vallerand, Fortier, &
Guay, 1997). In college, Black and Deci (2000) showed that STEM students rating lab
instructors as more autonomy supportive showed increases in autonomous motivation and
perceived competence, and received higher grades, controlling for prior GPA and SAT scores.
Manganelli et al. (2019) found that college students’ autonomous motivation predicted both
higher academic performance beyond the effects of prior achievement. Núñez and León (2019)
in a prospective study of Spanish collegians, showed that perceived autonomy support led to
greater engagement, mediated by autonomous motivation.
SDT applies as well within advanced educational contexts. For ex- ample, Williams, Saizow,
Ross, and Deci (1997) found that mentors’ autonomy support for medical students predicted the
areas the students selected for their residencies. Sheldon and Krieger (2007) investigated law
students over their three years of study. Overall, law students re- ported a decline in basic
psychological need satisfaction and well-being during this time. Yet, if they had more autonomy-
supportive instructors they showed less decline in need satisfaction and well-being. Moreover,
those who experienced more autonomy support in law school received higher grades, performed
better on the bar exam, and reported higher autonomy in post-graduation employment.
Reeve and Tseng (2011) looked into the potential biological mediators at work in these effects of
autonomy-supportive versus control- ling teaching. They exposed students to one of three
conditions in which teachers were autonomy-supportive, neutral, or controlling. They then
assessed salivary cortisol, which is indicative of stress. Stu- dents exposed to a controlling
teacher had higher cortisol than those in the neutral condition, whereas those exposed to
autonomy-supportive teaching had lower cortisol than those in the neutral condition. Streb et al.
(2015) found, oppositely, that when children were in learning environments that emphasized
social relatedness and autonomy sup- port (e.g., kindergarten vs. schools; voluntary workshops
vs. regular lessons) they showed higher heart rates and emotional arousal indictive of greater
engagement and energy mobilization. Such results how a need-supportive context can incite the
more vital engagement associated with autonomous motivation.
Need-supportive teaching behaviors
Numerous studies across multiple settings show advantages of need- supportive classroom
climates in catalyzing more autonomous student motivation. But what does such need support
look like? Within SDT there has been much interest in the specific ingredients of facilitating
environments, many of which were initially identified through experimental studies (see Ryan &
Deci, 2017). These ingredients primarily concern the teacher’s provision of autonomy support
and structure. Autonomy support is seen as promoting both autonomy and relatedness
satisfactions, and when it occurs along with structure, competence as well.
Autonomy support
Teachers who support students’ autonomy begin by attempting to understand, acknowledge, and
where possible, be responsive to students’ perspectives. They also try to provide opportunities
for students to take ownership and initiative of their schoolwork, providing them with
meaningful choices and tasks that can engage their interests. When they require something to be
done, they provide a meaningful rationale. In contrast, controlling teachers are more oriented to
pressure students to think, feel, or behave in particular ways without responsiveness to student
Another factor that can support autonomy is the provision of choice. SDT suggests that when
students experience a sense of choice they feel more ownership of activities and greater
autonomy, resulting in an enhanced intrinsic motivation (e.g., Bao & Lam, 2008; Reeve, Nix, &
Hamm, 2003). Moreover, choice can facilitate performance (e.g., Murayama et al., 2015), and
curiosity, especially for those initially low in autonomy (Schutte & Malouff, 2019). Yet not all
types of choice are associated with the experience of autonomy. There can be meaningless
choices such as choices between options a person doesn’t want, or choices with subtle pressures
implicit in them (e.g., Assor, Kaplan, & Roth, 2002; Moller, Deci, & Ryan, 2006). Conversely,
one can have no options and still feel autonomy, if one willingly accepts the value of, or has
interest in, pursuing the available behavior. Nonetheless, meta- analytic findings by Patall,
Cooper, and Robinson (2008) support the general SDT hypothesis of a positive effect of choice
on intrinsic motivation. Patall, Dent, Oyer, and Wynn (2013) showed further that, along with
choice, teachers can support autonomy by taking students’ interests into account. When they do
so, students are also likely to judge them as more competent (Jang, Reeve, & Halusic, 2016).
More recently, using a diary method with students in science courses, Patall et al. (2019) found
that in lessons wherein teachers engaged in autonomy-supportive behaviors such as offering
choice, providing rationales, focusing on students interests or questions, and other specific
autonomy-supportive behaviors, students reported greater interest in the material. Tsai, Kunter,
Lüdtke, Trautwein, and Ryan (2008) similarly showed that lesson-to-lesson variations in student
interest and motivation fluctuated with daily variations in teacher support for autonomy. Multi-
level modeling in three subject areas revealed that on days when the teacher was more autonomy
supportive than usual, students were more interested than usual in that subject area.
Reeve and colleagues have used various empirical approaches to identify aspects of what
autonomy-supportive teachers do. Reeve, Bolt, and Cai (1999) began this work by assessing
teachers’ self-reports of autonomy support versus control. The teachers were then videotaped
while teaching, and their lessons rated. Teachers whose self-reports classified them as more
autonomy supportive were found to listen more, be more responsive to student questions, bring
more attention to student interests, resist giving answers, voice fewer directives, show more
support for student initiatives, and convey more understanding of students’ perspectives.
Subsequently, Reeve and Jang (2006) preidentified specific teacher behaviors that were
autonomy supportive or controlling and related these observed behaviors to the motivation re-
ported by students. Results indicated that eight teacher behaviors that had been categorized as
autonomy supportive (listening to students, making time for independent work, giving students
opportunities to speak, acknowledging improvement and mastery, encouraging effort, offering
progress-enabling hints when students seem stuck, being responsive to comments and questions,
and acknowledging students’ perspectives) were positively associated with students’ autonomous
motivation. In contrast, teacher behaviors categorized as controlling (e.g., monopolizing learning
materials, telling students answers, issuing directives, using controlling words such as “should”
and “have to”) were negatively related with students’ autonomous motivation.
Also focusing on this the “dark side” of the motivation puzzle, Assor, Kaplan, Kanat-Maymon,
and Roth (2005) showed that controlling behaviors by Israeli teachers predicted lower student
autonomy. In related work, Liu, Bartholomew, and Chung (2017) used multilevel growth
modeling to show that increases in perceptions of controlling teaching were related to increases
in need frustration across the school year which, in turn, were related to lower autonomous
motivation and greater fear of failure, contingent self-worth, and avoidance of challenges.
Indirect effects supported the mediating role of need frustration in these relations.
Autonomy support and structure
SDT strongly distinguishes between the idea of control and the idea of structure, and views the
most positive teaching and parenting styles as being high in both autonomy support and structure
(e.g., Grolnick et al., 2014; Grolnick & Ryan, 1989; Jang, Reeve, & Deci, 2010). Whereas
controlling behaviors pressure students to behave or achieve, structure entails setting clear
expectations and goals, having consistency in rules and guidelines, and providing informational
supports for engagement and rich efficacy feedback. Good structure “scaffolds” learning so that
students rarely face non-optimal challenges, and feedback is thus largely positive and efficacy
supportive. The combi- nation of high teacher autonomy support and structure has been
empirically associated with higher autonomous motivation (both intrinsic and identified), greater
use of self-regulated learning strategies, and lower anxiety (e.g., Hardré & Reeve, 2003;
Vansteenkiste et al., 2012).
Although structure can especially enhance competence satisfaction, its effects are influenced by
how it is delivered (Soenens & Vansteenkiste, 2010). Structure can be provided in either
controlling or autonomy-supportive ways. Indeed, SDT predicts that, both in school and at home,
greater internalization and competence are facilitated by high levels of both autonomy-support
and provision of structure. Jang et al. (2010), for example, studied teacher autonomy support and
structure in U.S. high schools, finding that teachers’ autonomy support and structure, as rated by
observers, predicted students’ engagement, as did students’ perceptions of autonomy support.
Farkas and Grolnick (2010) showed that parental structure and autonomy support predicted both
felt competence and autonomy in 7th and 8th-grade children.
Various configurations of autonomy-support and structure (and their opposites of control and
chaos) can be reliably assessed and used to predict classroom outcomes. For example, Aelterman
et al. (2019) collected self-reports from over 1000 Belgian secondary school teachers and
students using the vignette-based Situations-in-School Questionnaire, to which they applied
multidimensional scaling analyses. Results suggested that teaching styles could be represented
by a two-dimensional configuration forming a circumplex with eight subareas, namely:
participative and attuning, guiding and clarifying, demanding and domineering, and abandoning
and awaiting. Correlations between these subareas and various outcome variables followed the
expected sinusoid pattern. Such findings underscore that supporting autonomy is not about
permissiveness, but rather helping to catalyze students’ willingness to engage in learning through
well-organized learning environments and activities.
Work on detailing the specific behaviors that support autonomy, competence and relatedness in
classrooms continues in earnest within SDT, including many studies based on direct classroom
observations (e.g., Haerens et al., 2013; Rogat, Witham, & Chinn, 2014; Wallace, Sung, &
Williams, 2014). It is noteworthy that when teachers are autonomy supportive, they are typically
also supportive of students’ other basic psychological needs (competence and relatedness) as
well. This of course makes sense insofar as, when teachers are autonomy supportive, they are
more attuned to students’ perspectives, allowing more responsiveness to relational and
competence concerns.
Student wellness and basic need supports
We have argued that although schools are often narrowly focused on achievement, they are more
importantly contexts for child, adolescent, and young adult development (Ryan & Deci, 2017).
In schools, students acquire not only knowledge, but also a sense of industry and a set of
identities (positive or negative). Confidence, self-esteem, and mental health are all deeply
affected by whether what happens in school supports or thwarts basic psychological needs.
Tian, Chen, and Huebner (2014), for example, assessed Chinese adolescent students’ basic
psychological needs and their school-related well-being at two time points, approximately six
weeks apart. Analyses revealed relationships between autonomy, relatedness, and competence
satisfactions and overall satisfaction with school and higher subjective well-being. Longitudinal
research has also shown that as students experience more need satisfaction in class they become
more engaged, and in becoming more engaged, they also experience greater need satisfaction
(Reeve & Lee, 2014). In another longitudinal study of Chinese students, Yu, Li, Wang, and
Zhang (2016) found that teacher autonomy support predicted engagement which was associated
with lower symptoms of anxiety and depression. More recently, Duineveld, Parker, Ryan,
Ciarrochi, and Salmela-Aro (2017) showed in Finnish samples that parent autonomy support
facilitated students’ well-being across educational transitions. These are just samplings from a
growing body of research, in settings ranging from elementary schools to post-graduate
education, indicating that when teachers and parents provide autonomy support students exhibit
greater engagement, performance, and higher well-being.
Autonomy effects across cultures
One controversial aspect of SDT concerns the proposal that the satisfaction of basic
psychological needs is important in all cultures, a proposal that has been particularly
controversial with respect to autonomy and autonomy support. For example, Markus, Kitayama,
and Heiman (1996) argued that autonomy is not important in traditionalist or collectivist
cultures. Although we agree with them that cultures vary in their values and practices, including
their valuing of autonomy, we argue that nonetheless, the functional import of autonomy is
universal. This focus on basic or universal needs is not simply about parsimony, but rather about
identifying the most important drivers of human motivation, engagement and learning.
At this point, strong empirical evidence supports the SDT position, which we illustrate with just
a few examples. Chirkov and Ryan (2001) showed that autonomy support from both teachers and
parents was associated with more autonomous school motivation and higher well- being of
adolescents in both the U.S. and Russia. Sheldon, Abad, and Omile (2009) studied adolescents in
Nigeria and India, finding in both of these collectivist cultures that teacher autonomy support
enhanced coursework experiences and well-being. Research by Hayamizu (1997) and Yamauchi
and Tanaka (1998) showed the predictive value of SDT’s internalization continuum for Japanese
elementary school students. More autonomously motivated Japanese students showed more
interest, deeper learning strategies, and more positive school attitudes than those with lower
autonomy. More recently, Oga-Baldwin, Nakata, Parker, and Ryan (2017) showed how
engagement in learning English by Japanese elementary students is enhanced by promoting
autonomy and intrinsic motivation. Jang, Reeve, Ryan, and Kim (2009) showed that autonomy
was predictive of South Korean high school students’ satisfying learning experiences.
Vansteenkiste, Zhou, Lens, and Soenens (2005) found that young adults in China who had
greater autonomous motivation for studying had greater academic success, and higher well-
being. Jang et al. (2009) reported similar results in Korean high school students. Indeed, a recent
meta-analysis by Yu, Levesque-Bristol, and Maeda (2018) showed no differences between East
Asian and North American samples in the importance of autonomy to well-being.
Although the generalizability of SDT’s basic need assumptions is well supported by these and
dozens more studies, it is nonetheless important to appreciate cultural differences in both how
people perceive contexts and in how basic needs are fulfilled, as Nolen in this issue also
highlights (Nolen, 2020). Specifically, SDT makes etic claims concerning the universal
importance of its basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, yet it
also recognizes emic variations in the salience, meaning and dynamics of needs between cultures
(Craven et al., 2016; Reeve, Ryan, & Deci, 2018). For example, in some cultures behaviors that
might be functionally significant as controlling to American students may be perceived less
negatively (e.g., Cheng, Shu, Zhou, & Lam, 2016). Nonetheless, even considering such nuances,
research confirms the general main effects across cultures and contexts of need satisfaction
versus frustration, even for the controversial issue of autonomy.
Autonomy support and diversity
One of the ironies of objections to SDT’s etic claims concerning autonomy as a universal need is
that, in respecting autonomy and advocating for its support, SDT is acknowledging the
importance of differences between people. Autonomy support has as its central feature
attempting to appreciate and respect the internal frame of reference of the learner. Autonomy
support is thus a central element in cultural competency—that is, in being able to effectively
work with people from diverse backgrounds and value systems, whose frames of reference in-
fluence their motivations and valuations.
This importance of autonomy support goes beyond cultural and ethnic differences to all the
diversities that describe learners. Students come to our schools from different socioeconomic
backgrounds, with different temperaments, interests, religious values, sexual identities, and even
different neurological processing styles. Autonomy support entails, by definition, respecting and
attempting to appreciate the perspective of, and unique challenges faced by, each learner
Autonomy support is an essential part of the arts of teaching and mentoring, as autonomy support
entails an interest in the learner’s needs, barriers, and resources, whether they be cognitive,
emotional or cultural. When experiencing such support, people who might otherwise feel
alienated can feel safer. Exemplifying this, Legate, Ryan, and Weinstein (2012) showed that to
the extent lesbian, gay and bisexual students saw school or other social contexts as autonomy
supportive, the more likely they were to be “out” in those contexts and to show fewer depressive
symptoms, less anger, and higher self-esteem.
Indeed, when teachers become more autonomy supportive of their students the culture of a
school can change to become more accepting and tolerant. In three Israeli elementary schools,
Assor, Kaplan, Feinberg, and Tal (2009) launched a program to enhance autonomy support.
After introducing the basic principles of SDT, each school was encouraged to develop its own
unique change plan through discussions that included teachers, administrators, and the research
team con- ducted. Evaluations over a three-year period showed that intervention- group teachers
reported more empathic attitudes toward students’ needs and felt better about themselves as
teachers. Further, there was reduced violence among students, and increased student perceptions
of caring within their classrooms (see Assor, Feinberg, Kanat-Maymon, & Kaplan, 2018). Such
findings suggest that by focusing on need satisfaction of teachers and students, schools can
improve the relations among all members of a school community.
Needs-based critiques of grading, performance goals, and high- stakes testing
We have stressed the important role of teacher styles in shaping student motivation. Yet
structural factors in classrooms and educational policies, from class size to mandated curricula,
also affect both teachers’ and learners’ motivation and performance, sometimes in unintended
ways. Among factors negatively affecting teachers and students are excessive emphasis on
grades, performance goals, and pressures from high-stakes tests.
Among the most common features of classrooms across the globe is the practice of grading. Just
as ubiquitous are the social comparisons, ego-involvement, and for some the humiliations,
inevitably associated with grading. Unlike most learning in life, in which experiments, failures,
and risks are part of the learning process, in schools there is too often a different emphasis:
namely, evaluating most everything a student does using grades as feedback. The priority placed
on grades, both by teachers and parents, often catalyzes performance goals, or desire to
outperform others, since grades are typically comparative rather than criterion based (e.g.,
Pulfrey, Buchs, & Butera, 2011). Grading schemes are so characteristic of schools around the
world that it is hard for some to even imagine a school without grading. Yet despite their
pervasive use, there is remarkably little evidence that grading strategies enhance motivation or
learning, whereas there is evidence of negative effects.
SDT has a clear perspective on grading. The theory argues that feedback about performance can
have varied functional significance, or meaning, to the recipient. Feedback can have
informational significance if it is efficacy relevant (i.e., provides inputs that help the person
improve or highlight areas of competence). Informational inputs tend to enhance intrinsic
motivation and internalization. In contrast, feedback can have a controlling significance when
experienced as pressure toward specific behaviors or outcomes (Deci & Ryan, 1985).
As Nolen (this issue) also points out, the meaning or functional significance of grades to students
will vary, especially being influenced by how they are applied and reacted to by teachers, parents
and in stitutional climates. Yet grades, at least as commonly used, are far too often experienced
as controlling. For example, Grolnick and Ryan (1987) experimentally investigated the effects
grading on motivation for an ecologically valid school task and found that grading was
associated with decreased intrinsic motivation and lower conceptual learning (see also Benware
& Deci, 1984). Klapp (2015) reported a natural experiment of over eight thousand Swedish
students, who at- tended primary schools in which performance was either graded or not. Klapp
focused on how primary school grading affected performance in 7th, 8th and 9th grades, as well
as outcomes at grade 12. Results pointed to a negative association of primary school grading on
achievement in grades 7–9, and lower odds of finishing secondary education, effects especially
evident for lower ability students.
Given that grades as typically applied have the potential to negatively affect students’ motivation
and learning, especially for those who are at-risk, we might ask why are they so pervasive? We
fear that in part it is because some educators and policymakers mistakenly assume that grades are
an effective motivational strategy. They believe that by grading students they are “incentivizing”
effort as well as providing “feedback”. Yet as research by Butler (1987) and our own work has
shown, grades by themselves typically provide little competence re- levant feedback; they
merely let students know where they stand relative to others, a focus that can undermine
autonomous motivation, especially for the “non-winners.”
SDT suggests that grades used as “motivators” will typically be experienced as controlling and
diminish autonomous motives to learn. For example, Krijgsman et al. (2017) showed that
following lessons invol- ving performance grading, physical education students reported less
intrinsic motivation and identified regulation, and more external regulation, amotivation, and
fear. Basic psychological need satisfaction and frustration mediated these relations between
grading and motiva- tional outcomes. Thus, although grading may sometimes be needed for
“gatekeeping” (i.e., screening poor performers from advancing), it should not be considered an
effective motivational strategy for fostering learning. In contrast, efficacy related information,
and authentic feed- back concerning mastery do enhance motivation, indicating that they tend to
be intrinsic rather than extrinsic incentives.
Performance goals
Comparative strategies of evaluating and grading students are deeply related to the large
literature concerning mastery versus perfor- mance goals (Urdan & Kaplan, 2020). In mastery
goals, the aim is enhancing the learner’s existing competence or knowledge, whereas in
performance goals the focus is on the student outperforming others. Both mastery and
performance goals can be further differentiated into approach and avoidance types, with
substantial evidence suggesting that performance-avoidance goals are the most detrimental in
educational settings for both performance and well-being (Elliot, 2005).
In our view, the effects stemming from mastery and performance goals can be largely understood
in terms of SDT’s concept of functional significance. Performance goals, even when approach-
oriented, are commonly experienced as controlling pressures, whereas mastery goals tend to be
both implemented and experienced as informational. Thus Pulfrey et al. (2011) found, as
expected in SDT, that expectations of being graded led students to be less autonomously
motivated and more likely to adopt performance-avoidance goals. Vansteenkiste et al. (2010)
assessed performance-approach goals and the autonomous and controlled motives students had
for pursuing them. When autonomous and controlled motives were entered into the analyses,
these SDT motive types accounted for the preponderance of variance explained by goals in
outcomes such as self-regulated learning, achievement, and cheating. Gillet, Lafrenière,
Huyghebaert, and Fouquereau (2015) measured six types of achievement goals in two
educational settings, as well as autonomous and controlled motives for pursuing these goals.
These included approach and avoidance forms of task, self, and other- focused learning goals.
Results indicated that the motives underlying the goals were stronger predictors of well-being
than the goals them- selves (see also Vansteenkiste, Lens, Elliot, Soenens, & Mouratidis, 2014).
In short, performance goals are often experienced as pressure toward outcomes and conduce to
controlled motivations, which can account for their negative effects. But what about the
conditions under which such goals become so predominant?
5.3. High-stakes tests
In recent years, there has been growing international competition to increase educational
outcomes, which has led policymakers to demand greater accountability from teachers and
students, and to pressure both to show enhanced test score outcomes. In the U.S.A. and some
other nations, legislation has applied incentives and sanctions to scores on standardized tests,
making them into “high-stakes tests” (HST). This approach is based on the view that
incentivizing teachers and administrators based on test score outcomes will “motivate” them to
provide better education for students. In other words, they assume poor performance is due to
poor teacher motivation, and that contingent re- wards and sanctions will remedy this.
This high-stakes reform approach, as long predicted by SDT (e.g., Ryan & La Guardia, 1999)
has been remarkably ineffective. For ex- ample, Hout and Elliott (2011) concluded that HST
encourages teachers to focus narrowly on the material expected to appear on the tests. Focusing
on scores, educators have engaged in practices such as not al- lowing poor-performing students
to take the tests, or reporting false information on outcomes. Given such dynamics, it should
come as little surprise that improved HST scores do not typically generalize to other, more valid,
standardized tests (Nichols & Berliner, 2007). Further, be- cause test scores in specific domains
are the focus of sanctions and rewards, a widespread practice is to curtail or neglect activities and
topics that are interesting and engaging, and that enrich development (e.g., hands-on projects,
music, arts, civics, physical education), but will not be subject to HST. By fostering an
accountability approach based on test outcomes, rather than supporting school reforms that are
attentive to the psychological needs of teachers and students (e.g., Early et al., 2016), education
policies are compromising the quality of learning and instruction teachers can provide, especially
for disadvantaged and ESL students (Korentz, 2017).
Based on SDT principles, we have long opposed high-stakes testing approaches, and provided
specific motivational accounts of why such programs have pervasively failed (see Patall &
Zambrano, 2019; Ryan & Brown, 2005). SDT argues that outcome-focused rewards and
sanctions reinforce any route to the goal, even if it represents bad practice. In contrast, our
criteria for judging policies and practices focuses on the extent to which they support
autonomous motivation and basic psychological needs in teachers and students. That is, we favor
policies that focus on supporting the best processes within classrooms, rather than trying to
reward and punish educators and learners for outcomes. HST exemplify the problems with
outcome-focused pressures as they tend to undermine best practices, and paradoxically are less
effective at achieving the desired outcomes.
HST has been an issue not just in the USA, but around the globe. Chinese education is, for
example, dominated by gaokao, or the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, which
is a form of HST focused primarily on the student rather than teacher or school. The strong
emphasis on this single exam leads, as we have suggested with other HST policies, to teaching to
the test, to excessive stress, and to the crowding out of intrinsic motivation and autonomy within
school learning (Sun, Dunne, Hou, & Xu, 2013; Yu, Chen, Levesque-Bristol, & Vansteenkiste,
2018). Although HST’s take different forms in different nations, to the extent that they are
formulated so as to externally pressure teachers and students toward a narrow set of
performances, they interfere with more holistic and need-supportive approaches that more fully
enhance students’ development, interests, capabilities, and wellness.
Supporting teachers to support students’ needs
Clearly there is considerable evidence that basic need-supportive classroom strategies promote
autonomous motivation, initiative, engagement, and adjustment. Yet autonomy-supportive
teaching is not always easy, especially given constraints in time, resources, and curricula.
Moreover, teachers, like their students, have basic psychological needs for autonomy,
competence, and relatedness. SDT specifically maintains that for teachers to actively support
students’ needs, they themselves must experience need supports. For example, Roth, Assor,
Kanat-Maymon, and Kaplan (2007) found that teachers who were more autonomously motivated
to teach were experienced by students as more autonomy supportive and the students were, in
turn, more autonomously motivated to learn. Klassen, Perry, and Frenzel (2012) reported three
studies showing that when teachers experienced more satisfaction of the need for relatedness,
especially vis-s-vis students, they were more engaged and reported less emotional exhaustion.
Yet school policies and leadership styles can interfere with teachers’ need satisfaction and lead
toward more controlling, and less relationally satisfying, classroom methods. Pelletier, Séguin-
Lévesque, and Legault (2002) suggested that teachers have to deal with both pressures from
above (e.g., from accountability policies or controlling administrators) and below (e.g., from
disengaged students, difficult parents). Their research indicated not only that pressures from
above and below were both negatively associated with teachers’ autonomous motivation for
teaching, but also with their autonomy support of students. Fernet, Guay, Senécal, and Austin
(2012) found that when teachers experienced work overload or disruptive students, the teacher’s
autonomous motivation for teaching was lower, as was their perceived competence, leading in
turn to more emotional exhaustion and less sense of accomplishment. Bartholomew, Ntoumanis,
Cuevas, and Lonsdale (2014) showed that job pressures on teachers were associated with
burnout, a relation mediated by frustration of their basic psychological needs. More recently,
Cuevas, Ntoumanis, Fernandez-Bustos, and Bartholomew (2018) demonstrated how pressure on
teachers to boost student performance predicted lower autonomous motivation for teaching,
lower teacher vitality, and more exhaustion. In Chinese schools, Nie, Chua, Yeung, Ryan, and
Chan (2015) found that perceived supervisor autonomy support was associated with teachers’
reporting more intrinsic motivation to teach and higher psychological wellness. Clearly, when
teachers’ autonomy is frustrated by environmental pressures, whether from “above” or “below,”
they tend to be more controlling with students, and less positively engaged.
This dynamic does not stop with teachers. Principals too function better when they receive
autonomy support from their superintendents, and less pressure from above and below (Maxwell
& Riley, 2017). For example, Chang, Leach, and Anderman (2015) reported that principals were
higher in affective commitment to their schools and job satisfaction when they perceived their
superintendents to be more autonomy supportive. Clearly, then, the ways in which teachers and
administrators are supported and motivated “from above” affects their capacities to support and
optimally motivate the students and teachers “below” them. This also makes clear that effective
reform in schools is not just about changing teachers’ behaviors, but about supporting the basic
psychological needs of teachers and principals as well.
SDT-based interventions
A number of SDT-based interventions have targeted teachers as the most proximal influences on
students’ engagement and learning. Studies have especially examined whether training teachers
to be more autonomy supportive can be effective in changing classroom practices and improving
teacher experiences. For example, Reeve, Jang, Carrell, Jeon, and Barch (2004) trained teachers
to incorporate autonomy support into their teaching styles. Subsequently, they observed both
trained and control-group teachers in their classrooms on three occasions. Findings showed that
trained teachers were significantly more autonomy-supportive than the control-group teachers,
and, importantly, that the students in the classrooms of the trained teachers were more engaged
in learning. Su and Reeve (2011) identified nine- teen studies in which educators received
training in autonomy-supportive methods. A meta-analysis showed that across these studies there
was a large (0.63) effect size toward improvement for intervention groups. Cheon, Reeve, Lee,
and Lee (2018) recently reported another intervention focused on increasing teacher autonomy
support. Results showed that the expected increases in teacher autonomy support were associated
with both increased feelings of efficacy and the adoption of more intrinsic goals. In fact,
interventions based on SDT have been strongly empirically supported relative to other theoretical
perspectives (see Lazowski & Hulleman, 2016). Such intervention studies are important in
demonstrating the causal role of teacher need supports in enhancing educational outcomes, and
in showing the practical value of motivation research.
Future directions for SDT research and practice
SDT research and its applications have increased tremendously in the two decades since our
previous CEP special issue article (Ryan & Deci, 2000) as a result of the efforts of hundreds of
scholars from dozens of nations, with varied interests in how the theory relates to educational
processes and outcomes. In this brief review we could discuss only a fraction of these efforts,
which are more fully presented in Ryan and Deci (2017). SDT is at this point formally made up
of six mini-theories covering not only the topics of intrinsic motivation, internalization and basic
needs, on which we focused in this review, but also those of life goals and aspirations, individual
differences in motivation, and motivation in personal relationships (see Ryan et al., 2019).
Moreover, SDT has a rich body of work connecting topics such as mindfulness, vitality, identity
formation, and eudaimonia to motivation and needs, all of which apply to educational processes.
Commentators in this special issue have raised the important question of whether we need
multiple perspectives on motivation or have bemoaned the proliferation of terms and jargon
across theories that can be confusing to practitioners. In this regard, SDT represents both an
expansive and expandable framework that provides a unified perspective on diverse phenomena
that cut across many theories such as expectancies, rewards, efficacy, evaluations and feedback,
praise, values, approach and avoidance motives, achievement goals, ego- and task-involvement,
contingencies of self-esteem, life aspirations, self- concepts, epistemic emotions, identity,
culture, and many other con- structs of interest to educators. SDT’s predictions and findings
often (though do not always) converge with those of alternative models, even though SDT’s
formulations have been derived from a “brick by brick” approach to theory construction,
strategically relying on incremental theory expansions, each based in convergent empirical
evidence, to avoid errors of commission (Ryan & Deci, 2019). We have also, where
contradictions emerge, invited “paradigm clashes” to test competing hypotheses, including with
behaviourist, cultural relativist, social cognitive, objectivist, and other distinct models, ever
sharpening SDT’s formulations. The resulting clarity, reliability and coherence of SDT suggests
it can continue to contribute to the coordination and synthesis of diverse constructs and findings.
Notably, a recent special issue of the Journal of Personality (see Sheldon & Prentice, 2019)
focused on SDT’s adequacy as a meta-framework or foundation for studies in social/personality
psychology. In commenting on this issue, Ryan, Vansteenkiste, and Soenens (2019) argued that,
whether or not one accepts SDT an encompassing approach to personality studies, it is clearly
broadly relevant to the major questions raised across contemporary perspectives. We see a
similar potential for SDT in education, as it supplies a systematic, practical, critical, and open
framework for studying and promoting what really matters to students, teachers and
administrators, an issue of central concern to Anderman (2020). It has predictive and practical
value not only in enhancing motivation and performance, but also in fostering wellness and
thriving. Its strength lies in its being an empirically based approach that also relates directly to
the phenomenology of learners and teachers, thereby attempting to meld rigor with relevance
into a theoretically unified set of principles and prescriptions.
Given the breadth of the framework, and the diverse community of scholars now driving it
forward, the future directions of SDT research and practice are hard to anticipate, but we
highlight a few areas that we suspect will be increasingly active.
Continuing methodological developments at varied levels of analyses
Among the notable characteristics of SDT’s current body of research are the divergent methods
being applied to test convergent hypotheses, which include both traditional quantitative as well
as qualitative methods. In fact, from its beginnings SDT has benefited by iteration between
experimental studies and field research, as well as from knowledge derived by interventions and
consultations in school set- tings. Like Nolen (this issue) we see these multiple methods and
sources of information as necessary to capture the complexities of learning environments across
the globe. SDT is also concerned with situating proximal (e.g., familial, school) influences
within pervasive (e.g., cultural, economic) environments, and thus draws upon wider levels of
analysis (see Ryan & Deci, 2017, 2018). As an organismic theory SDT is explicitly committed to
consilience and seeks to coordinate its theory and findings across evolutionary, neurological,
psychological, economic and sociological levels of analysis.
In light of the substantial evidence that more autonomous motivation enhances learning
outcomes, research on the neuropsychology of autonomy will become increasingly important in
crafting the scaffolding and delivery of learning activities (Di Domenico & Ryan, 2017).
Neuroscience research on intrinsic motivation has, for example, already suggested mechanisms
through which need supportive conditions such as choice and optimal challenge can activate
striatal areas associated with enjoyment and prefrontal cortical processes critical to engaged
learning (see Reeve & Lee, 2018).
Future SDT research will also see even more nuanced methods for assessing motivations and
perceived need supports. For instance, recently researchers have applied new psychometric
approaches to SDT’s basic constructs, including techniques such as bi-factor analysis,
multidimensional scaling, network analyses, genetic algorithms, latent profiling, and other
approaches that each shed some unique light on the phenomena measured. Unlike psychologists
who repudiate self-report instruments, SDT sees them as important tools for assessing the
functional significance and meaning of events, and as having a critical role within motivation
sciences alongside other methods. In education, experience matters–it predicts the critical
outcomes, and it is something we can, through classroom practices, directly influence. We
should thus measure experience well, validating measures within a network of observational,
biological, behavioral, and performance indicators, always relating them to the varied conditions
faced by learners.
Learning and technology
One current direction of SDT research concerns the promise and problems associated with new
technologies for education. One of the great challenges of modern education is that of capturing
the attention of students and creating engagement for learning tasks. In response, educators are
turning to the attention-grabbing power of games for teaching purposes, using “gamification”
strategies to enhance motivation (e.g., McKernan et al., 2015; Rigby, 2014). Relevant to this
trend is a substantial body of SDT research demonstrating how features of games that satisfy
autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs ac- count for the motivational draw of successful
video games (Rigby & Ryan, 2011). Future SDT research will no doubt be looking more closely
at how educational media, e-learning, remote classrooms, and other opportunities afforded by
technology can be successfully created to motivate engagement and learning (Ryan & Rigby,
2019). Also, students’ and teachers’ motivation to use technology as a tool for learning will
become an even more active area of research (Peters, Calvo, & Ryan, 2018; Sørebø, Halvari,
Gulli, & Kristiansen, 2009).
Improving ‘learning theories’
The concept of learning theory was central in behavioristic psychologies of the past and helped
identify specific reinforcement procedures associated with effort and performance. Today we
know that psychological variables such as interest and value play a significant role in
engagement and learning (Froiland & Worrell, 2016), and the need supportive conditions that
facilitate and undermine them are increasingly understood. We also know that need-supportive
conditions foster other inner resources for learning including greater executive functioning (e.g.,
Bindman, Pomerantz, & Roisman, 2015) critical thinking (Manganelli et al., 2019) and
integrative decision-making (Di Domenico, Fournier, Ayaz, & Ruocco, 2013).
Ahead in SDT is, we think, a deeper-learning theory based on an active organismic framework in
which a potentially motivated student meets with either supportive or thwarting elements in
learning contexts and contents. Toward that end SDT has a rich set of tools based on its theory of
functional significance (Deci & Ryan, 2000) for understanding when and why factors such as
rewards, feedback, evaluations, re- cognition, competition, and social comparison support or
undermine learners’ basic need satisfactions. Yet these dynamics will need to be more deeply
connected with their mechanistic underpinnings and in a more detailed way with different
categories and types of cognitive performance. Motivational processes can also be more directly
linked with specific teaching practices and curricula that elicit and scaffold learning in different
subject areas (e.g., Kadir, Yeung, Ryan, Forbes, & Diallo, 2018; Rogat et al., 2014). Such an
organismic learning theory would be concerned not just with how to shape and control learning
from the outside, but also how to understand and support the inherent propensities to learn
assumed within SDT in diverse contexts, and the rich educational outcomes they can yield.
Teacher and leadership motivation
SDT research has shown important linkages between teachers’ motivation and wellness and their
capacity to be need supportive with their students. Influences on teachers from both above
(administrators, policies) and below (students, parents) are being actively researched, as we
reviewed, but more study of the motivations for teaching and for continuing training (e.g.,
Gorozidis & Papaioannou, 2014; Guay, Valois, Falardeau, & Lessard, 2016; Jansen in de Wal,
den Brok, Hooijer, Martens, and van den Beemt (2014)) is critical, as are studies of teachers
instructional and career goals (e.g., Jang, 2019). In addition, studies of the influence of
leadership should continue, as leadership styles significantly affect teacher effectiveness and
retention (e.g., Nie et al., 2015).
More qualitative studies
As SDT has advanced, quantitative studies have identified general principles that are both
reliable and predictive. Yet more qualitative work is needed throughout SDT to fill in a more
detailed picture of experiences, practices, and motives involved in need supportive schools, and
to facilitate translational research for everyday use. Qualitative studies also are needed to detail
educational innovations providing need-supportive environments, to serve as models for change
(e.g., see Barrable & Arvanitis, 2019). They also advance the cause of situating any application
SDT’s framework within the varied forces operating on teachers and students both within and
beyond the class- room setting.
Globalization, diversity, and promoting wellness
We discussed the important role of autonomy support in fostering inclusive environments and
supporting the diversity of learners. Recent research in SDT has been characterized by
“universalism without uniformity” approach (Soenens, Vansteenkiste, & Van Petegem, 2015) in
which personal, situational, or cultural variables may moderate perceptions of, and responses to,
need-relevant events, but within clear limits. Nuances in how psychological needs are
differentially satisfied may be particularly advanced by studies using person-centered analyses,
as well as qualitative methods.
SDT as a critical and comparative psychology
A distinguishing feature of SDT is its specification of basic need supports as essential for healthy
educational environments. Unlike relativistic perspectives, SDT evaluates curricula, teaching
strategies, educational leadership styles, and policies based on the extent to which they support
or thwart learners’ and teachers’ basic psychological needs. Given these basic and measurable
criteria, SDT thus also pro- vides a basis for critical comparisons between teaching styles, school
organizations, and even national policies. On this basis Ryan and Niemiec (2009) argued that
despite its epistemic reliance on empirical methods, SDT shares with many constructivist and
post-modern approaches to education a concern with cultural internalizations and impositions,
and a recognition of layered forms of hegemony. It stands as an example of theory that can be
both empirically grounded and critical, and thus merits consideration alongside other critical
educational theories. Basic psychological needs are important criteria not just because they are
drivers of performance outcomes, but because educational environments that support their
satisfaction enhance students’ flourishing across an array of cognitive, personal, and social
SDT’s applications in education focus on facilitating the satisfaction of the basic psychological
needs of both students and teachers. An enormous amount of research in school settings ranging
from elementary levels to advanced degrees and across diverse cultural contexts has confirmed
SDT’s position that supports for basic psychological needs facilitate students’ intrinsic
motivation and well-internalized motivation and enhance their well-being. Research has also
increasingly de- lineated the core elements of need supportive teaching styles.
Given the importance of basic psychological need supports, under- standing and fostering the
conditions under which teachers can be need supportive is an important practical concern. Yet
despite how much we know about conditions that promote engagement, motivation and authentic
learning, policies that specifically aim to enhance the satisfaction of the basic psychological
needs of teachers and students have not yet been widely adopted (Patall & Zambrano, 2019).
Many teachers are forced to find ways to support learners’ psychological needs despite
institutional obstacles such as mandated curricula, controlling perfor- mance pressures, grading
requirements, and high-stakes tests. In short, there remain important gaps between dominant
policies and practices in our educational institutions and what SDT research and observations
reveal about best practice. If we are to provide our students with the skills, habits, interests, and
capabilities they will need to meet the challenges of the 21st century, these are gaps that we
should aspire to close.
Aelterman, N., Vansteenkiste, M., Haerens, L., Soenens, B., Fontaine, J. R. J., & Reeve, J.
(2019). Toward an integrative and fine-grained insight in motivating and demotivating teaching
styles: The merits of a circumplex approach. Educational Psychology, 111(3), 497–521.
Anderman, E. M. (2020). Achievement motivation theory: Balancing precision and utility.
Contemporary Educational Psychology In this issue.
Assor, A., Feinberg, O., Kanat-Maymon, Y., & Kaplan, H. (2018). Reducing violence in non-
controlling ways: A change program based on self-determination theory. The Journal of
Experimental Education, 86(2), 195–213.
Assor, A., Kaplan, H., Feinberg, O., & Tal, K. (2009). Combining vision with voice: A learning
and implementation structure promoting teachers’ internalization of practices based on self-
determination theory. Theory and Research in Education, 7(2), 234–243.
Assor, A., Kaplan, H., Kanat-Maymon, Y., & Roth, G. (2005). Directly controlling teachers'
behaviors as predictors of poor motivation and engagement in girls and boys: The role of anger
and anxiety. Learning and Instruction, 15, 397–413.
Assor, A., Kaplan, H., & Roth, G. (2002). Choice is good, but relevance is excellent: Autonomy-
enhancing and suppressing teacher behaviors in predicting student's engagement in school work.
British Journal of Educational Psychology, 72, 261–278.
Bao, X.-H., & Lam, S.-F. (2008). Who makes the choice?: Rethinking the role of autonomy and
relatedness in Chinese children’s motivation. Child Development, 79(2), 269–283.
Barrable, A., & Arvanitis, A. (2019). Flourishing in the forest: Looking at Forest School through
a self-determination theory lens. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 22, 39.
Bartholomew, K. J., Ntoumanis, N., Cuevas, R., & Lonsdale, C. (2014). Job pressure and ill-
health in physical education teachers: The mediating role of psychological need thwarting.
Teaching and Teacher Education, 37, 101–107.
Benware, C. A., & Deci, E. L. (1984). Quality of learning with an active versus passive
motivational set. American Educational Research Journal, 21(4), 755–765.
Bindman, S. W., Pomerantz, E. M., & Roisman, G. I. (2015). Do children’s executive functions
account for associations between early autonomy- supportive parenting and achievement through
high school? Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(3), 756–770.
Black, A. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). The effects of student self-regulation and instructor
autonomy support on learning in a college-level natural science course: A self-determination
theory perspective. Science Education, 84(6), 740–756.
Butler, R. (1987). Task-involving and ego-involving properties of evaluation: Effects of different
feedback conditions on motivational perceptions, interest, and performance. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 79(4), 474–482.
Chang, Y., Leach, N., & Anderman, E. M. (2015). The role of perceived autonomy support in
principals’ affective organizational commitment and job satisfaction. Social Psychology of
Education, 18, 315–336.
Chatzisarantis, N. L. D., Hagger, M. S., Biddle, S. J. H., Smith, B., & Wang, C. K. J. (2003). A
meta-analysis of perceived locus of causality in exercise, sport, and physical education contexts.
Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 25, 284–306.
Cheng, R. W. Y., Shu, T. M., Zhou, N., & Lam, S. F. (2016). Motivation of Chinese learners: An
integration of etic and emic approaches. In R. B. King, & A. B. I. Bernardo (Eds.). The
psychology of Asian learners (pp. 355–368). Singapore: Springer.
Cheon, S. H., Reeve, J., Lee, Y., & Lee, J. (2018). Why autonomy-supportive interventions
work: Explaining the professional development of teachers’ motivating style. Teaching and
Teacher Education, 69, 43–51.
Chirkov, V. I., & Ryan, R. M. (2001). Parent and teacher autonomy-support in Russian and U.S.
adolescents: Common effects on well-being and academic motivation. Journal of Cross-Cultural
Psychology, 32(5), 618–635.
Craven, R. G., Ryan, R. M., Mooney, J., Vallerand, R. J., Dillon, A., Blacklock, F., & Magson,
N. (2016). Toward a positive psychology of indigenous thriving and reciprocal research
partnership model. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 47, 32–43.
Cuevas, R., Ntoumanis, N., Fernandez-Bustos, J. G., & Bartholomew, K. J. (2018). Does teacher
evaluation based on student performance predict motivation, well-being, and ill-being? Journal
of School Psychology, 68, 154–162.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human
behavior. New York, NY: Plenum Publishing Co.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and
the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268.
Deci, E. L., Schwartz, A. J., Sheinman, L., & Ryan, R. M. (1981). An instrument to assess
adults’ orientations toward control versus autonomy with children: Reflections on intrinsic
motivation and perceived competence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 73(5), 642–650.
Di Domenico, S. I., Fournier, M. A., Ayaz, H., & Ruocco, A. C. (2013). In search of integrative
processes: Basic psychological need satisfaction predicts medial prefrontal activation during
decisional conflict. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(3), 967.
Di Domenico, S. I., & Ryan, R. M. (2017). The emerging neuroscience of intrinsic moti- vation:
A new frontier in self-determination research. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 145.
Duineveld, J. J., Parker, P., Ryan, R. M., Ciarrochi, J., & Salmela-Aro, K. (2017). The link
between perceived maternal and paternal autonomy support and adolescent well- being across
three major educational transitions. Developmental Psychology, 53, 1978–1994.
Early, D. M., Berg, J. K., Alicea, S., Si, Y., Aber, J. L., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2016). The
impact of every classroom, every day on high school student achievement: Results from a
school-randomized trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 9(1), 3–29.
Elliot, A. J. (2005). A conceptual history of the achievement goal construct. In A. Elliot, & C.
Dweck (Eds.). Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 52–72). New York: Guilford Press.
Farkas, M. S., & Grolnick, W. S. (2010). Examining the components and concomitants of
parental structure in the academic domain. Motivation and Emotion, 34(3), 266–279.
Fernet, C., Guay, F., Senécal, C., & Austin, S. (2012). Predicting intraindividual changes in
teacher burnout: The role of perceived school environment and motivational factors.Teaching
and Teacher Education, 28(4), 514–525.
Froiland, J. M., & Worrell, F. C. (2016). Intrinsic motivation, learning goals, engagement, and
achievement in a diverse high school. Psychology in the Schools, 53(3), 321–336.
Gillet, N., Lafrenière, M.-A., Huyghebaert, T., & Fouquereau, E. (2015). Autonomous and
controlled reasons underlying achievement goals: Implications for the 3 × 2 achievement goal
model in educational and work settings. Motivation and Emotion, 39(6), 858–875.
Gillet, N., Vallerand, R. J., & Lafreniere, M. K. (2012). Intrinsic and extrinsic school motivation
as a function of age: The mediating role of autonomy support. Social Psychology of Education,
15, 77–95.
Gnambs, T., & Hanfstingl, B. (2016). The decline of academic motivation during ado- lescence:
An accelerated longitudinal cohort analysis on the effect of psychological need satisfaction.
Educational Psychology, 36(9), 1691–1705.
Gorozidis, G., & Papaioannou, A. G. (2014). Teachers' motivation to participate in training and
to implement innovations. Teaching and Teacher Education, 39, 1–11.
Gottfried, A. E., Marcoulides, G. A., Gottfried, A. W., Oliver, P. H., & Guerin, D. W. (2007).
Multivariate latent change modeling of developmental decline in academic intrinsic math
motivation and achievement: Childhood through adolescence. International Journal of
Behavioral Development, 31(4), 317–327.
Grolnick, W. S., Raftery-Helmer, J. N., Marbell, K. N., Flamm, E. S., Cardemil, E. V., &
Sanchez, M. (2014). Parental provision of structure: Implementation and correlates in three
domains. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 60(3), 355–384.
Grolnick, W. S., & Ryan, R. M. (1987). Autonomy in children’s learning: An experimental and
individual difference investigation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(5), 890–
Grolnick, W. S., & Ryan, R. M. (1989). Parent styles associated with children's self-regulation
and competence in school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 143–154.
Grolnick, W. S., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (1991). Inner resources for school achievement:
Motivational mediators of children's perceptions of their parents. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 83(4), 508–517.
Guay, F., Ratelle, C. F., Roy, A., & Litalien, D. (2010). Academic self-concept, autonomous
academic motivation, and academic achievement: Mediating and additive effects. Learning and
Individual Differences, 20(6), 644–653.
Guay, F., & Vallerand, R. J. (1997). Social context, student’s motivation, and academic
achievement: Toward a process model. Social Psychology of Education, 1(3), 211–233.
Guay, F., Valois, P., Falardeau, É., & Lessard, V. (2016). Examining the effects of a professional
development program on teachers' pedagogical practices and students' motivational resources
and achievement in written French. Learning and Individual Differences, 45, 291–298.
Haerens, L., Aelterman, N., Van den Berghe, L., De Meyer, J., Soenens, B., & Vansteenkiste, M.
(2013). Observing physical education teachers’ need-supportive interactions in classroom
settings. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 35(1), 3–17.
Hardré, P. L., & Reeve, J. (2003). A motivational model of rural students’ intentions to persist in,
versus drop out of high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95(2), 347–356.
Hayamizu, T. (1997). Between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: Examination of reasons for
academic study based on the theory of internalization. Japanese Psychological Research, 39(2),
Hout, M., & Elliott, S. W. (2011). Incentives and test-based accountability in education.
Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Howard, J. L., Gagné, M., & Bureau, J. S. (2017). Testing a continuum structure of self-
determined motivation: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 143(12), 1346–1377.
Jang, H. R. (2019). Teachers' intrinsic vs. extrinsic instructional goals predict their classroom
motivating styles. Learning and Instruction, 60(1), 286–300.
Jang, H., Reeve, J., & Deci, E. L. (2010). Engaging students in learning activities: It is not
autonomy support or structure, but autonomy support and structure. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 102(3), 588–600.
Jang, H., Reeve, J., & Halusic, M. (2016). A new autonomy-supportive way of teaching that
increases conceptual learning: Teaching in students' preferred ways. The Journal of Experimental
Education, 84(4), 686–701.
Jang, H., Reeve, J., Ryan, R. M., & Kim, A. (2009). Can self-determination theory explain what
underlies the productive, satisfying learning experiences of collectivistically- oriented Korean
students? Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(3), 644–661.
Jansen in de Wal, J., den Brok, P. J., Hooijer, J. G., Martens, R. L., & van den Beemt, A. (2014).
Teachers' engagement in professional learning: Exploring motivational pro- files. Learning and
Individual Differences, 36, 27–36.
Kadir, M. S., Yeung, A. S., Ryan, R. M., Forbes, A., & Diallo, T. M. O. (2018). Effects of a
dual-approach instruction on students’ science achievement and motivation. Educational
Psychology Review.
Katz, I., Eilot, K., & Nevo, N. (2014). “I’ll do it later”: Type of motivation, self-efficacy and
homework procrastination. Motivation and Emotion, 38(1), 111–119.
Klapp, A. (2015). Does grading affect educational attainment?: A longitudinal study. Assessment
in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 22(3), 302–323.
Klassen, R. M., Perry, N. E., & Frenzel, A. C. (2012). Teachers’ relatedness with students: An
underemphasized component of teachers’ basic psychological needs. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 104, 150–165.
Korentz, D. (2017). The testing charade: Pretending to make schools better. Chicago, IL:
University of Chicago Press.
Krijgsman, J., Vansteenkiste, M., Tartwijk, Van, Maes, J., Borghouts, L., Cardon, G., ...Haerens,
L. (2017). Performance grading and motivational functioning in physical education: A self-
determination theory perspective. Learning and Individual Differences, 55, 210–211.
Lazowski, R. A., & Hulleman, C. S. (2016). Motivation interventions in education: A meta-
analytic review. Review of Educational Research, 86(2), 602–640.
Legate, N., Ryan, R. M., & Weinstein, N. (2012). Is coming out always a “good thing”?
Exploring the relations of autonomy support, outness and wellness for lesbian, gay and bisexual
individuals. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3(2), 145–152.
León, J., Núñez, J. L., & Liew, J. (2015). Self-determination and STEM education: Effects of
autonomy, motivation, and self-regulated learning on high school math achievement. Learning
and Individual Differences, 43, 156–163.
Lepper, M. R., Corpus, J. H., & Iyengar, S. S. (2005). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivational
orientations in the classroom: Age differences and academic correlates. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 97(2), 184–196.
Litalien, D., Morin, A. J. S., Gagné, M., Vallerand, R. J., Losier, G. F., & Ryan, R. M. (2017).
Evidence of a continuum structure of academic self-determination: A two- study test using a
bifactor-ESEM representation of academic motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology,
51, 67–82.
Liu, J., Bartholomew, K., & Chung, P. K. (2017). Perceptions of teachers’ interpersonal styles
and well-being and ill-being in secondary school physical education students: The role of need
satisfaction and need frustration. School Mental Health, 9(4), 360–371.
Manganelli, S., Cavicchiolo, E., Mallia, L., Biasi, V., Lucidi, F., & Alivernini, F. (2019). The
interplay between self-determined motivation, self-regulated cognitive strategies, and prior
achievement in academic performance. Educational Psychology, 39, 470–488.
Markus, H. R., Kitayama, S., & Heiman, R. J. (1996). Culture and basic psychological
principles. In E. T. Higgins, & A. W. Kruglanski (Eds.). Social psychology: Handbook of basic
principles (pp. 857–913). New York: Guilford Press.
Maxwell, A., & Riley, P. (2017). Emotional demands, emotional labour and occupational
outcomes in school principals: Modelling the relationships. Educational Management
Administration and Leadership, 45(3), 484–502.
McKernan, B., Martey, R. M., Stromer-Galley, J., Kenski, K., Clegg, B. A., Folkestad, J. E., ...
Strzalkowski, T. (2015). We don’t need no stinkin’ badges: The impact of reward features and
feeling rewarded in educational games. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 299–306.
Moller, A. C., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2006). Choice and ego-depletion: The moderating
role of autonomy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(8), 1024–1036.
Murayama, K., Matusumoto, M., Izuma, K., Sugiura, A., Ryan, R. M., Deci, E. L., &
Matsumoto, K. (2015). How self-determined choice facilitates performance: A key role of the
metromedial prefrontal cortex. Cerberal Cortex, 25(5), 1241–1251.
Nichols, S. L., & Berliner, D. C. (2007). Collateral damage: How high-stakes testing corrupts
America’s schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Nie, Y., Chua, B. L., Yeung, A. S., Ryan, R. M., & Chan, W. Y. (2015). The importance of
autonomy support and the mediating role of work motivation for well-being: Self- determination
theory in a Chinese work organization. International Journal of Psychology, 50(4), 245–255.
Nolen, S. (2020). A situative turn in the conversation on motivation theories. Contemporary
Educational Psychology In this issue.
Núñez, J. L., & León, J. (2019). Determinants of classroom engagement: A prospective test
based on self-determination theory. Teachers and Teaching, 25(2), 147–159.
Oga-Baldwin, W. L. Q., Nakata, Y., Parker, P. D., & Ryan, R. M. (2017). Motivating young
language learners: A longitudinal model of self-determined motivation in elementary school
foreign language classes. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 49, 140–150.
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, 270–
Patall, E. A., Dent, A. L., Oyer, M., & Wynn, S. R. (2013). Student autonomy and course value:
The unique and cumulative roles of various teacher practices. Motivation and Emotion, 37, 14–
Patall, E. A., Pituch, K. A., Steingut, R. R., Vasquez, A. C., Yates, N., & Kennedy, A. A. (2019).
Agency and high school science students’ motivation, engagement, and classroom support
experiences. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 62, 77–92.
Patall, E. A., & Zambrano, J. (2019). Facilitating student outcomes by supporting au- tonomy:
Implications for practice and policy. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences,
6(2), 115–122.
Pelletier, L. G., Séguin-Lévesque, C., & Legault, L. (2002). Pressure from above and pressure
from below as determinants of teachers’ motivation and teaching behaviors. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 94(1), 186–196.
Peters, D., Calvo, R. A., & Ryan, R. M. (2018). Designing for motivation, engagement and
wellbeing in digital experience. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 797.
Pulfrey, C., Buchs, C., & Butera, F. (2011). Why grades engender performance-avoidance goals:
The mediating role of autonomous motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103(3), 683–
Reeve, J., Bolt, E., & Cai, Y. (1999). Autonomy-supportive teachers: How they teach and
motivate students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 537–548.
Reeve, J., & Jang, H. (2006). What teachers say and do to support students' autonomy during a
learning activity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 209–218.
Reeve, J., Jang, H., Carrell, D., Jeon, S., & Barch, J. (2004). Enhancing high school students’
engagement by increasing their teachers’ autonomy support. Motivation and Emotion, 28(2),
Reeve, J., & Lee, W. (2014). Students’ classroom engagement produces longitudinal changes in
classroom motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(2), 527–540. Reeve, J., & Lee,
W. (2018). Motivational neuroscience. In R. M. Ryan (Ed.). The Oxford handbook of motivation
(2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Reeve, J., Nix, G., & Hamm, D. (2003). Testing models of the experience of self-determination
in intrinsic motivation and the conundrum of choice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95,
Reeve, J., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2018). Sociocultural influences on student motivation as
viewed through the lens of self-determination theory. In G. A. D. Liem, & D. M. McInerney
(Eds.). Big theories revisited 2 (pp. 31–60). Charlotte, NC: IAP.
Reeve, J., & Tseng, C.-M. (2011). Cortisol reactivity to a teacher’s motivating style: The biology
of being controlled versus supporting autonomy. Motivation and Emotion, 35(1), 63–74.
Rigby, C. S. (2014). Gamification and motivation. In S. P. Walz, & S. Deterding (Eds.). The
gameful world: Approaches, issues, applications (pp. 113–138). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Rigby, C. S., & Ryan, R. M. (2011). Glued to Games: The attractions, promise and perils of
video games and virtual worlds. New York, NY: Praeger.
Rogat, T. K., Witham, S. A., & Chinn, C. A. (2014). Teachers’ autonomy relevant practices
within an inquiry-based science curricular context: Extending the range of academically
significant autonomy supportive practices. Teachers College Record, 116(7), 1–46.
Roth, G., Assor, A., Kanat-Maymon, Y., & Kaplan, H. (2007). Autonomous motivation for
teaching: How self-determined teaching may lead to self-determined learning. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 99, 761–774.
Ryan, R. M. (1982). Control and information in the intrapersonal sphere: An extension of
cognitive evaluation theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 450–461.
Ryan, R. M., & Brown, K. W. (2005). Legislating competence: The motivational impact of high
stakes testing as an educational reform. In A. J. Elliot, & C. S. Dweck (Eds.). Handbook of
competence (pp. 354–374). New York: Guilford Press.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and
new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54–67.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in
motivation, development, and wellness. New York, NY: Guilford Publishing.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2019). Brick by brick: The origins, development, and future of self-
determination theory. In A. J. Elliot (Vol. Ed.), Advances in motivation science (pp. 111–156).
Cambridge, MA: Elsevier Inc.
Ryan, R. M., & Grolnick, W. S. (1986). Origins and pawns in the classroom: Self-report and
projective assessments of children's perceptions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
50(3), 550–558.
Ryan, R. M., & La Guardia, J. G. (1999). Achievement motivation within a pressured society:
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations to learn and the politics of school reform. In T. Urdan (Vol.
Ed.), Advances in motivation and achievement: Vol. 11, (pp. 45–85). Greenwich, CT: JAI.
Ryan, R. M., & Niemiec, C. P. (2009). Self-determination theory in schools of education: Can an
empirically supported framework also be critical and liberating? Theory and Research in
Education, 7(2), 263–272.
Ryan, R. M., & Rigby, C. S. (2019). Motivational foundations of game-based learning. In J. L.
Plass, R. E. Mayer, & B. D. Homer (Eds.). Handbook of game-based learning (pp. 153– 176).
Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Ryan, R. M., Ryan, W. S., Di Domenico, S. I., & Deci, E. L. (2019). The nature and the
conditions of human autonomy and flourishing: Self-determination theory and basic
psychological needs. In R. M. Ryan (Ed.). The Oxford handbook of human motivation (pp. 89–
110). (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Ryan, R. M., Vansteenkiste, M., & Soenens, B. (2019). Reflections on self-determination theory
as an organizing framework for personality psychology: Interfaces, integrations, issues, and
unfinished business. Journal of Personality, 87(1), 115–145.
Scherrer, V., & Preckel, F. (2019). Development of motivational variables and self-esteem
during the school career: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Review of Educational
Research, 89(2), 211–258.
Schutte, N. S., & Malouff, J. M. (2019). Increasing curiosity through autonomy of choice.
Motivation and Emotion, 43(3), 563–570.
Sheldon, K. M., Abad, N., & Omile, J. (2009). Testing self-determination theory via Nigerian
and Indian adolescents. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 33, 451–459.
Sheldon, K. M., & Krieger, L. S. (2007). Understanding the negative effects of legal education
on law students: A longitudinal test of self-determination theory. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 33(6), 883–897.
Sheldon, K. M., & Prentice, M. (2019). Self-determination theory as a foundation for personality
researchers. Journal of Personality, 87(1), 5–14.
Skinner, E., Saxton, E., Currie, C., & Shusterman, G. (2017). A motivational account of the
undergraduate experience in science: Brief measures of students’ self-system appraisals,
engagement in coursework, and identity as a scientist. International Journal of Science
Education, 39(17), 2433–2459.
Soenens, B., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2010). A theoretical upgrade of the concept of parental
psychological control: Proposing new insights on the basis of self-determination theory.
Developmental Review, 30(1), 74–99.
Soenens, B., Vansteenkiste, M., & Van Petegem, S. (2015). Let us not throw out the baby with
the bathwater: Applying the principle of universalism without uniformity to autonomy-
supportive and controlling parenting. Child Development Perspectives, 9(1), 44–49.
Sørebø, Ø., Halvari, H., Gulli, V. F., & Kristiansen, R. (2009). The role of self-determination
theory in explaining teachers’ motivation to continue to use e-learning technology. Computers &
Education, 53, 1177–1187.
Streb, J., Keis, O., Lau, K., Hille, L., Spitzer, M., & Sosic-Vasic, Z. (2015). Emotional
engagement in kindergarten and school children: A self- determination theory perspective.
Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 4(4), 102–107.
Su, Y.-L., & Reeve, J. (2011). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of intervention pro- grams
designed to support autonomy. Educational Psychology Review, 23(1), 159–188.
Sun, J., Dunne, M. P., Hou, X.-Y., & Xu, A.-Q. (2013). Educational stress among Chinese
adolescents: Individual, family, school and peer influences. Educational Review, 65(3), 284–302.
Taylor, G., Jungert, T., Mageau, G. A., Schattke, K., Dedic, H., Rosenfield, S., & Koestner, R.
(2014). A self-determination theory approach to predicting school achievement over time: The
unique role of intrinsic motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 39, 342–358.
Tian, L., Chen, H., & Huebner, E. S. (2014). The longitudinal relationships between basic
psychological needs satisfaction at school and school-related subjective well-being in
adolescents. Social Indicators Research, 119(1), 353–372.
Tsai, Y.-M., Kunter, M., Lüdtke, O., Trautwein, U., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). What makes lessons
interesting?: The role of situational and individual factors in three school subjects. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 100(2), 460–472.
Urdan, T., & Kaplan, A. (2020). The origins, evolution and future directions of achievement goal
theory. Contemporary Educational Psychology. In this issue.
Vallerand, R. J., Fortier, M. S., & Guay, F. (1997). Self-determination and persistence in a real-
life setting: Toward a motivational model of high school dropout. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 72(5), 1161–1176.
Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., Elliot, A. J., Soenens, B., & Mouratidis, A. (2014). Moving the
achievement goal approach one step forward: Toward a systematic examination of the
autonomous and controlled reasons underlying achievement goals. Educational Psychologist,
49(3), 153–174.
Vansteenkiste, M., Sierens, E., Goossens, L., Soenens, B., Dochy, F., Mouratidis, A., ... Beyers,
W. (2012). Identifying configurations of perceived teacher autonomy support and structure:
Associations with self-regulated learning, motivation and problem behavior. Learning and
Instruction, 22(6), 431–439.
Vansteenkiste, M., Smeets, S., Soenens, B., Lens, W., Matos, L., & Deci, E. L. (2010).
Autonomous and controlled regulation of performance-approach goals: Their relations to
perfectionism and educational outcomes. Motivation and Emotion, 34(4), 333–353.
Vansteenkiste, M., Zhou, M., Lens, W., & Soenens, B. (2005). Experiences of autonomy and
control among Chinese learners: Vitalizing or immobilizing? Journal of Educational Psychology,
97, 468–483.
Wallace, T. L. B., Sung, H. C., & Williams, J. D. (2014). The defining features of teacher talk
within autonomy-supportive classroom management. Teaching and Teacher Education, 42, 34–
Wang, C. K. J., Liu, W. C., Nie, Y., Chye, Y. L. S., Lim, B. S. C., Liem, G. A., ... Chiu, C. Y.
(2017). Latent profile analysis of students’ motivation and outcomes in mathematics: An
organismic integration theory perspective. Heliyon, 3(5), e00308.
Williams, G. C., Saizow, R., Ross, L., & Deci, E. L. (1997). Motivation underlying career choice
for internal medicine and surgery. Social Science and Medicine, 45(11), 1705–1713.
Yamauchi, H., & Tanaka, K. (1998). Relations of autonomy, self-referenced beliefs, and self-
regulated learning among Japanese children. Psychological Reports, 82(3), 803–816.
Yu, S., Chen, B., Levesque-Bristol, C., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2018). Chinese education
examined via the lens of self-determination. Educational Psychology Review, 30, 177–214.
Yu, S., Levesque-Bristol, C., & Maeda, Y. (2018). General need for autonomy and subjective
well-being: A meta-analysis of studies in the US and East Asia. Journal of Happiness Studies,
19(6), 1863–1882.
Yu, C., Li, X., Wang, S., & Zhang, W. (2016). Teacher autonomy support reduces adolescent
anxiety and depression: An 18-month longitudinal study. Journal of Adolescence, 49, 115–123.
Figure 1
... Taking these findings together and building on the SDT perspective, it can be postulated that when individuals feel a greater sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness (i.e., when their BPN are satisfied), they are able to explore, connect with, and understand difficult conditions optimally and will utilize available resources to actively engage in the learning process (Robichaud et al., 2020;Ryan & Deci, 2020;Šakan et al., 2020). Research shows that individuals feel more satisfied with their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic when their BPN are met (Collie, 2021;Šakan et al., 2020). ...
... Therefore, it appears that satisfaction of autonomy may be a valuable resource for students, as it relates to a reduction in language anxiety during challenging times and also to adaptive language learning by allowing students to actively search for untraditional ways to practice the language (Noels et al., 2000;Ryan & Deci, 2020). Collectively, but not directly, autonomy helped students continue learning the language during difficult times. ...
... Taken together, these findings align with the general argument that BPN play a role in determining positive learning outcomes, especially in situations such as COVID-19 where the educational system is affected and (in this context) shifted from face-to-face to virtual communication (Behzadnia & FatahModares, 2020;Cantarero et al., 2020;Robichaud et al., 2020;Ryan & Deci, 2020;Šakan et al., 2020). The results of this study provide an understanding of how satisfying students' psychological needs may be related to continuous language learning in challenging times (Hopp & Thoma, 2020). ...
Full-text available
The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) affected almost all countries in early 2020. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2020), over 60% of students worldwide have been affected by school closures. In such a situation, students' motivation may be a valuable resource to promote sustained language learning. Thus, based on self-determination theory, the present study (N = 215 Saudi undergraduates) investigated how English as a foreign language students' basic psychological need (BPN) satisfaction relates to their ability to continue learning during the pandemic (CLDP) through the mediating role of learning behavior. Using structural equation modelling, it was hypothesized that BPN satisfaction will directly and indirectly relate to CLDP and as students seek new opportunities to practice the language and utilize alternative options; however, BPN satisfaction was expected to negatively relate to CLDP through heightened anxiety about declining language proficiency. Generally, the results support the hypothesized indirect relationship between BPN satisfaction and CLDP by showing that the total indirect effects of autonomy and competence on CLDP were significant. This study contributes to our understanding of the usefulness of satisfying students' BPN in second language learning during difficult situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
... In SDT, motivation is categorised as intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation 'pertains to activities done "for their own sake" or for their inherent interest and enjoyment' as cited in Ryan and Deci 2020). Intrinsic motivation can be a significant factor in the primacy of lifelong learning as opposed to forced external learning and instruction (Ryan and Deci 2017). ...
... Despite the important role of intrinsic motivation in learning and development, research from several countries has shown that it seems to decrease over time between school years (Gillet, Vallerand, and Lafreniere 2012;Gnambs and Hanfstingl 2016;Scherrer and Preckel 2019). Specifically for school-related activities this declining trend in intrinsic motivation is associated with decreasing psychological need satisfaction (see Ryan and Deci 2020)a phenomenon which this study also explores relative to WIA's in engineering higher education. ...
... SDT posits four major subtypes of extrinsic motivation including integration, identification, introjection, and external regulation, and there is also amotivation, all of which concern a lack of intentionality. In education settings, amotivation can arise from either a lack of interest or value in activities or a lack of perceived competence to perform, and can negatively affect learning, wellness, and engagement (Ryan and Deci 2020). ...
Full-text available
A number of key graduate outcomes related to industry-based interventions and work-industry-related activities (WIA's) are specified by the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance for all Engineering Degree Programmes. A paucity of research regarding student perceptions of these WIAs and their role in student's motivation for learning motivates the current study. Understanding student perceptions of WIA is critical to ensuring the effective integration of WIAs into engineering education. This study explores the perceived motivational effects of WIAs with which students engage through the lens of self-determination theory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nineteen master's students studying in two research-intensive Swedish universities. Six themes emerged from thematic analysis. The themes describe the impact WIAs can have on student motivation in terms of their perceptions of (1) relevance for the development of knowledge and skills, (2) influence on the student's future profession identity, (3) utility for gaining industrial experience, inclusive of research experience, (4) relevance to student's programmes of study, (5) industry marketisation agendas, and (6) alignment with industry needs over the student's own needs. The motivating and demotivating aspects of WIA's based on these themes are discussed to improve the collaboration between industry and academia in engineering education.
... Previous studies on information sharing and knowledge transfer have discovered several incentives influencing user behavior. Extrinsic and intrinsic motivations are the most common sources of such motivations (Ryan & Deci, 2020). Extrinsic motivational factors include peer recognition, reciprocity, financial benefit, and reputation. ...
... This study develops the conceptual framework by combining intrinsic and extrinsic motivation models (Ryan & Deci, 2020) and social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1999). Using social cognitive theory, the study analyzes the influences of maven's cognitions (for example, expectations, experiences, beliefs) and the social media network and studies their information-sharing behavior. ...
Full-text available
This paper aims to investigate the association between variables of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, cyber-market mavenism, and information sharing behavior, particularly among social network sites (SNS) users in Iraq.This study depends on a quantitative method to test the variables. The sample contains 388 Iraqi customers or users using social network sites to share information about different products and services. The study conducts a purposive sample to determine the characteristics of users who have much information about different products and services. A questionnaire was prepared based on previous research and distributed to participants. The statistical analysis program (SPSS) for descriptive statistics and PLS-SEM were used to analyze the measurement and structural models to test the hypotheses. The study results showed that altruism, moral obligation, and self-efficacy as intrinsic motivations influence cyber-market mavenism. However, self-enjoyment appears to have no impact on cyber-market mavenism. Moreover, reputation and social interaction also influence cyber-market mavenism. In addition, reciprocity and belongingness have no effect among Iraqi users. Thus, cyber-market mavenism plays a significant role in information-sharing behavior. The reason for such an outcome may develop a competitive advantage for marketers through understanding the market maven behavior on social network sites.
... e study was based on the theory of the authors Ryan and Deci [29] for the academic motivation variable, where it is proposed that individuals are motivated by the innate necessity to feel competent and autonomous; thus, when the learning environment supports the satisfaction of these needs, students are more intrinsically motivated and selfdetermined [28]. Likewise, it is mentioned that a person who does not feel the inspiration to carry out their activities is perceived as a demotivated person; on the other hand, someone who feels energetic or has a positive attitude towards an end is considered a motivated person [30]. ...
... Authors Deci and Ryan distinguished 3 forms of motivation based on the degree to which they can be considered self-determined, the same as detailed below [29,31]: ...
Full-text available
Existing literature has paid little attention to the role that motivational variables have on the academic performance of mathematics students in Peru. The objective of the study was to determine the relationship between motivation and its dimensions and academic performance in this subject. A cross-sectional and correlational study was carried out in a sample of 251 first-cycle Peruvian undergraduate mathematics students using an electronic questionnaire. The students’ academic performance was measured by their records of the Mathematics course. The motivation was assessed using a self-report instrument designed to assess students’ intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and demotivation through 28 items. For statistical processing, Spearman’s Rho coefficient and a linear regression analysis were taken into account. It was concluded that there is a weak correlation between academic performance and motivation (r = 0.222, p = 0.001 ), in the same way as intrinsic motivation (r = 0.242, p = 0.001 ) and extrinsic (r = 0.117, p = 0.003 ) and a weak correlation with the demotivation dimension (r = 0.142, p = 0.024 ). With regard to linear regression, all dimensions of motivation were predictive of academic performance; intrinsic motivation explains a 27.2% of academic performance (β = 0.732; p = 0.011 ); extrinsic motivation explains a 16.8% of academic performance (β = 0.556; p = 0.001 ), and demotivation a 12.4% (β = 0.427; p = 0.008 ). This research provides a clear contribution with results on the association between motivation and academic performance in mathematics. This study suggests that universities, teachers, and students’ families take the necessary measures and provide stimulation to increase their motivation. In the same way, it is suggested that the university, in general, implements strategies to involve the student so that the student is always clear about the reason why they are at university and finish the degree they have started.
... Previous studies have found that internal work motivation and external work motivation have different effects on job burnout (29). Previous evidence indicated that controlling motivation with low self-determination is in direct proportion to job burnout, while autonomous motivation with a high degree of self-determination is in inverse proportion to job burnout (30). The weakening of voluntary motivation based on one's own will is an important factor that leads to job burnout (30). ...
... Previous evidence indicated that controlling motivation with low self-determination is in direct proportion to job burnout, while autonomous motivation with a high degree of self-determination is in inverse proportion to job burnout (30). The weakening of voluntary motivation based on one's own will is an important factor that leads to job burnout (30). Recent, under the framework of self-determined motivation theory, researchers have proposed five modes of work motivation regulation (27). ...
Full-text available
Thriving at work is a type of mental state in which an individual feels vigorous and learning at the same time in the job. Previous studies have shown that individual internal motivation is relevant to thriving at work and volunteer behaviors, but the role of motivation is still to be further explored. Based self-determination theory, this study focuses on the mediating effects of job burnout and psychological capital on the relationship between volunteer motivation and thriving at work. Three hundred forty-nine college student volunteers who participated in psychological assistance volunteer activities during the COVID-19 pandemic were investigated using the Volunteer Function Motivation Inventory, Maslach Burnout Inventory, PsyCap Questionnaire, and Thriving at work scale. The results indicated that job burnout and psychological capital mediate the relationship between volunteer motivation and thriving at work. The results not only offer important theoretical insights of Volunteer Motivation and Thriving at Work, but also generate practical implications regarding how to use motivating Volunteer behavior and enhanced wellbeing at work.
... Building on the concept of CI (Duckworth & Quinn, 2009), ASLI postulated that having one autonomous language interest during language study can be relevant to students' success in the long term. We have considered two major aspects while addressing the construct of CI: the quantity of interests (Khajavy et al., 2020;Oxford & Khajavy, 2021) as well as the internalisation of the interest (Ryan & Deci, 2020). It is hypothesised that the more autonomously single language interest is formulated the more predictive validity it has in predicting future achievement. ...
Full-text available
The present study aims to evaluate the role of ‘autonomous single language interest’ (ASLI) and assess its applicability and predictive validity for subsequent language achievement. ASLI, a refined version of ‘consistency of interest’ (CI) from grit, postulates that language students who have one autonomous language interest during their study (e.g., during the university setting) would achieve the language more successfully than those who have multiple language-unrelated interests/projects besides their language study. To test this concept, 235 undergraduate English students were tracked over roughly one academic year. The validation of the single language interest (SLI) construct was achieved using exploratory structural equation modelling (ESEM). The analyses indicated a reliable and valid scale of SLI. The longitudinal moderated model offered unique information about how SLI is related to L2 achievement after one academic year. The effects of SLI on L2 achievement are positive when students have SLI in an autonomous manner; hence the name ASLI, but negative when students' have SLI in a controlled manner (e.g., internal/external pressure). The effects hold constant while controlling for students' initial language achievement. Conceptual and educational implications are discussed.
Having a website is no longer an option for businesses but a necessity in the new digital economy. To meet this challenge, companies must design websites facilitating electronic transactions and retaining customers. Hence, companies need to know and focus on the key triggers that drive consumers to buy online. This chapter sheds light on the effects of three fundamental website features on online shopping. Website usability, website interactivity, and website personality describe the evolution of website design. Website design has changed to become more responsive and efficient. To develop their first websites, companies focused on usability and ease of use. Website usability aims to strengthen the user's perceived control and facilitate online shopping. The expectations of online shoppers have evolved by requiring a highly captivating and engaging online experience. Therefore, companies tried to meet those expectations by developing interactive and playful websites. To stand out from the competition, companies rely on symbolism and website personality.
This study investigated factors influencing success of physician scientists in Academic Medical Centers. These organizations and individuals drive healthcare in the United States. Translation of scientific discovery to medical practice moves at an astoundingly slow and ineffective rate. We must understand what contributes to physician scientist success to speed up translation. Through a lens of dialectic process theory, a grounded theory approach identified emergent factors from lived experiences of 31 individuals, at various experience levels, with MD and PhD degrees. Role balance, autonomy, organizational support, teamwork, life-cycle mentorship, and relational capacity were relevant factors impacting success. Role balance was important for success. Teamwork, organizational support, and life-cycle mentorship helped individuals grow, achieve balance, and respect, but relational capacity emerged as a critical driver for realizing both individual and organizational success. One person cannot execute these complex roles on their own, but development of deep and meaningful relationships through teamwork, collaboration, and life-cycle mentorship are essential for life satisfaction and success.
Full-text available
RESUMEN El estudio se desarrolla desde la metodología investigación-acción en educación, y corresponde a un proceso de intervención psicoeducativa que busca favorecer la dimensión cognitivo-motivacional en estudiantes en condición de extra edad del grado aceleración del aprendizaje. Después de la identificación de las necesidades del grupo y el diagnóstico cognitivo motivacional, se estableció como objetivo incrementar el nivel motivacional general de los participantes del estudio por medio de un programa psicoeducativo basado en la teoría motivacional de Pintrich. Este estudio se elaboró a través de 4 fases desde el modelo de Stringer: detección del problema, elaboración del plan, implementación-evaluación y retroalimentación. Para determinar la efectividad del programa se empleó un diseño pre-experimental preprueba/posprueba con un solo grupo preestablecido. El resultado de la prueba de rangos con signo de Wilcoxon fue de 0,32E-4 por debajo del nivel de significancia P<0,05, evidenciándose una diferencia significativa en las medias del puntaje obtenido antes y después del programa psicoeducativo. La magnitud del efecto por medio de la d de Cohen, identifica un nivel grande de efectividad, d=6,81 con respecto al programa diseñado y aplicado. Los participantes aumentaron su nivel de motivación general, desde un nivel bajo predominante en la preprueba (65,2 %) a un nivel alto predominante en la posprueba (87 %). Se puede concluir que se logró el objetivo general de la investigación aplicada incrementando por medios intrínsecos al programa formativo los niveles cognitivo-motivacionales, fortaleciendo la autorregulación, la autoestima y la permanencia de los estudiantes en el sistema educativo. Palabras clave: Motivación escolar, aceleración del aprendizaje, fracaso escolar, desmotivación académica, Investigación-acción en educación.
Full-text available
This study examined the effect of satisfaction of the basic psychological need for autonomy on curiosity. One hundred and fifty-four participants first completed measures of autonomy-need satisfaction and curiosity. Participants were then randomly assigned to either a condition that supported autonomy of choice or a condition not supporting autonomy of choice. The autonomy-choice intervention provided participants with choice of topic for a video they could watch, while those in the no-autonomy of choice condition did not have choice. All participants then rated their curiosity regarding the topic of the video. Results showed that participants whose need for autonomy was more satisfied had higher levels of curiosity. Participants randomly assigned to the autonomy of choice condition providing choice of topic showed greater curiosity regarding the topic than participants who did not have a choice of topic. Autonomy of choice was most beneficial in stimulating a high level of curiosity about the topic for participants who had low general autonomy need satisfaction. The results of the study support the importance of self-determination in fostering the emotion of curiosity.
Full-text available
This research has a dual purpose: to translate into Spanish and validate a classroom engagement measure and, over a semester, to analyse the effect of students’ perception of autonomy support on the need for autonomy and the effect of autonomy, in turn, on four types of engagement. Data were collected at three time points from 448 undergraduate students via a longitudinal design. The results revealed adequate psychometric properties for the engagement scale, and the hypothesised effects were supported. Autonomy support was a significant predictor of the need for autonomy, which, in turn, predicted changes in four types of classroom engagement. Emotional engagement displayed the strongest relationship with need for autonomy. Moreover, need for autonomy mediated the relationship between perceived autonomy support and each indicator of student engagement. The findings are interpreted as supporting self-determination theory’s motivation mediation model and could be considered in future intervention programmes to improve the teaching–learning process in education.
Quickly after its introduction in the early 1980′s, achievement goal theory blossomed into one of the most popular frameworks in motivation research. Over three plus decades, the theory evolved in a number of ways. Some of these developments brought about much-needed conceptual and methodological clarity; but, they also involved a shift away from questions of complexity and contextualism that marked the earlier research on achievement goals. In this paper, we consider the original focus of achievement goal theory, several ways in which the theory has changed, and what we have learned from intervention research and examinations of achievement goals among diverse populations. The paper concludes with suggestions for future directions in achievement goal research to increase focus on complexity, educational contexts, and issues of ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity.
Download at,qcWcrFF until 2020-09-09 In this commentary I take a situative turn in the theoretical conversation around the question, “Why do people do what they do?” The first section describes in broad strokes what a situative perspective on motivation or engagement entails. Next, I comment on aspects of the five articles as they relate to the history and methods of socio-cognitive and situative approaches to understanding motives to learn. Then, using the central organizing framework of “meaning systems” in situative approaches, I suggest ways that a situative perspective might contribute to ongoing work in the five motivation theories and how some of the authors take steps in that direction.
The articles in this special issue review the impressive bodies of research that have been generated from achievement motivation theories, emphasizing developments over the past 20 years. In this commentary, I first discuss some of the most noteworthy contributions that have emerged from each of the theories. I then discuss the extent to which there are commonalities across theories; I point out that whereas there is some overlap, this overlap allows for precision in research, but also at times leads to confusion for practitioners and policymakers. Finally, I discuss the degree of alignment between current motivation theory and contemporary education policy and practice. Motivation researchers are examining some important contemporary practice- and policy-related issues; nevertheless, this research has not been systematic across theories.
All students come to the classroom with inner motivational resources that, when supported, catalyze engagement, motivation, learning, and achievement. Teachers’ support for student autonomy is an essential tool for enhancing desirable student outcomes; practitioners and policy-makers can promote autonomy-supportive classroom environments. An overview of autonomy support presents core, autonomy-supportive practices: (a) providing choice opportunities, (b) providing rationales, and (c) incorporating student perspectives. Next, we address common misconceptions about autonomy support and consider why practitioners often do not adopt an autonomy-supportive approach. Finally, autonomy support might help to address broader societal challenges, with strategic implications for researchers, educators, and policy-makers.
Agentic engagement is a potential gateway to improving the classroom climate and adolescent students' motivation. The current investigation provided the first test of daily and short-term longitudinal relations between U.S. high school science students' agentic engagement during class and their psychological need satisfaction, other forms of engagement (behavioral, cognitive, emotional), and perceptions of teachers' autonomy relevant practices. Analyses were based on a six-week diary study with 208 urban and suburban U.S. high school students from 41 science classes. Multilevel modeling analyses suggested that agentic engagement predicted an increase in concurrent and longitudinal perceived teacher autonomy support, need satisfaction, and other forms of engagement. Mediational analyses supported theoretical depictions of agentic engagement as emerging out of an autonomy supportive context and dynamically shaping that context and students' motivational experiences over the course of an instructional unit. The implications and fit of the findings with theory are discussed.
The present study examined the interplay between self-determined motivation and the use of cognitive strategies in predicting university students’ academic performance while taking into account the effect of prior achievement. A theory based model was tested using structural equation modeling on a sample of 764 Italian university students. Results showed that prior achievement influenced students’ academic performance and their motivation and use of cognitive strategies. Critical thinking was the only cognitive strategy which proved to have a significant impact on students’ academic performance. Autonomous motivation had an indirect positive impact on academic performance through its influence on the critical thinking strategy. Controlled motivation had a direct negative impact on academic performance. On the whole, our findings suggest that autonomously motivated students tend to achieve better academic performance by using critical thinking, while students who are driven by controlled motivation have lower academic performance.
Theoretical approaches and empirical research suggest a decline in motivation and self-perceptions among students through their school career. However, precise statements about the magnitude of the change during the school career remain elusive. Conducting a meta-analysis of 107 independent longitudinal studies with 912 effect sizes, we found an overall decrease in motivation and self-perceptions (Glass’s Δ = -.108) over an average duration of 1.654 years. Change significantly differed by construct with the largest decreases in intrinsic motivation, math and language academic self-concepts, mastery achievement goals, and performance-approach achievement goals. There were no significant mean-level changes in self-esteem, general academic self-concept, academic self-efficacy, and performance-avoidance achievement goals. School stage and transition to middle school or high school were not significantly associated with motivational change. Findings generalized over academic domain and questionnaire used for all constructs except for academic self-concept. The decline was larger in Europe than in North America or Asia.