A recent meta-analysis conducted by Bureau and colleagues seek to identify the strongest predictor of self-determined motivation in students by analyzing 144 studies consisting of a total of 79,079 participants (from primary school to university). The study situates itself within self-determination theory (SDT) which understands motivation on a continuum scale of level of self-determination, the highest level is intrinsic motivation, followed by extrinsic motivation. Amotivation is the third form of motivation considered non-self-determined. Extrinsic motivation is broken into three types: (a) identified regulation, a motivation to engage in activities that are personally meaningful, (b) introjected regulation, a motivation to engage in activities to assert pride or avoid shame, and (c) external regulation, a motivation to engage in activities to achieve a reward or avoid punishment.
Besides five types of motivation, SDT also posits three psychological needs’ satisfaction which may foster of motivation:
- autonomy (student perception of learning freely and voluntarily)
- competence (student belief in the impact of their actions on their learning experience)
- relatedness (student feeling of connection to the school and others)
The correlations of all three psychological needs demonstrated the same pattern:
- a negative correlation with amotivation (ρ = -0.38 to -0.30)
- little or no correlation with external regulation (ρ = -0.04 to +0.01)
- positive correlations with introjected regulation (ρ = +0.21 to +0.23), identified regulation (ρ = +0.44 to +0.48), and intrinsic motivation (ρ = +0.44 to +0.58)
The authors also established the relative weight on the contribution of autonomy, competence, and relatedness to each type of student motivation.
- Competence contributed the greatest weight to identified regulation, intrinsic motivation, and amotivation (44%, 42%, and 47%, respectively), followed by autonomy (30%, 39%, 30%, respectively), and relatedness the least (26%, 18%, 23%, respectively).
The authors interpret these results as showing that competence is the driving factor in student motivation followed by autonomy, while relatedness only displays a minimal role.
Another goal of this study is to identify the importance of teachers and parents in promoting self-determined motivation in students. Meta-analytic structural equation model was applied to test whether teacher and parental support promoted three student psychological needs satisfaction, and in turn, satisfaction of needs fostered each of five types of motivation. The data suggests teachers play a more important role in developing student motivation than parents do.
While this study’s reliance on correlational data limits the ability to assert causality, it effectively lays the groundwork for future studies to establish causal links.
Source: Bureau, J. S., Howard, J. L., Chong, J. X. Y., & Guay, F. (2021). Pathways to student motivation: A meta-analysis of antecedents of autonomous and controlled motivations. Review of Educational Research, 00346543211042426. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543211042426