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        • Work in Progress *****


Proposed by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan in 1985, when applied to education primarily relates to students confidence in their own capacities and attributes, how much they value the education (or learning) that is taking place, and also their interest in learning the topic at hand. Self determination theory looks at what engages a student in an activity, or causes some action to be performed. It separates actions that are entered into by the student freely of their own choice vs. actions that are compelled by an outside source (like a teacher). [Deci et al, 1991]

Self Determination theory postulates that there are basic psychological needs that are important for all people. Three of these needs are focused on when talking about self determination in education. They are competence, relatedness, and autonomy. Competence is the ability to attain goals (either internal or external) to the person, and being efficacious in the attainment of those goals. Relatedness is more of a social goal and speaks to the personal connections made in such a way that the student feels safe and satisfied with others in their social context. Autonomy is the ability to control both the actions you take, as well as regulating the self through various tasks. [Deci et al, 1991]

General Theoretical Underpinnings

Research Examples

Swiss and German Mathematics Lessons

Intrinsic Motivation for Math

Organic Chemistry and Autonomous Motivations