Contemporary Educational Psychology https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2020.101860 !
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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