The impact of students’ perceived relatedness and competence upon their motivated engagement with learning activities: a self-determination theory perspective

Wood, David Roger (2016). The impact of students’ perceived relatedness and competence upon their motivated engagement with learning activities: a self-determination theory perspective. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Empirical research that has applied Self-Determination Theory (SDT) within classrooms suggests that the combined satisfaction of three basic psychological needs can be predictive of students’ motivation to engage with learning activities. These three basic needs are relatedness, which, for the purposes of the current research, takes the form of a positive teacher-student relationship, perceived self-competence, and autonomy.
The current research suggests that, whilst SDT emphasizes the importance of autonomy as a basis for self-determined engagement with learning, the motivation to be autonomous is a potential outcome informed by the students’ perceived competence and the perceived quality of the teacher-student relationship. These findings were the basis for three posits regarding the impact of the satisfaction of the three basic psychological needs, central to SDT, upon students’ engagement with learning activities. These posits are: that firstly, an individual’s motivation to be autonomous (SDT; autonomy) is an outcome dependent upon students’ satisfied needs for both a positive teacher-student relationship (SDT: relatedness) and perceived competence (SDT: competence); secondly, that perceived competence is informed by and reciprocally informs the quality of the teacher-student relationship; and thirdly, that there is a potential cumulative connection between students’ perceived competence and the quality of the teacher-student relationship, in terms of the combined impact upon the quality and persistence of autonomous motivation. These interpretive claims emerged from and were supported by the findings across the main study and triangulation methods within the current research.
The current research begins to unravel how the motivational interplay between the three SDT-centred basic psychological needs may inform students’ engagement with learning activities in formal learning settings. This led to the development of a proposed SDT-embedded motivational pathways model. This model is worthy of further testing, explanation and modification by educators through classroom-based research.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education


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