Unravelling the dynamics of intrinsic motivation of students with and without special educational needs


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In this dissertation, Judith Loopers investigated intrinsic motivation and teacher-student interactions of students in pre-vocational secondary education. Special attention is given to students with special educational needs (SEN; such as learning and behavioural problems). The dissertation is based on the self-determination theory. This theory states that satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are positively related to students’ intrinsic motivation. As part of the research project, students completed short diary questionnaires a few times a week throughout the school year. Furthermore, observations gave more insight in teacher-student interactions in the ‘here-and-now’ of the lesson.
The results show that indeed a positive relationship between satisfaction of the basic psychological needs and intrinsic motivation exists. However, individual differences in the important of the needs for motivation are found. Autonomy is less important for the motivation of students with SEN, while competence and relatedness seem extra important. Furthermore, some students are stable and highly motivated, while others show lower motivation, and more fluctuations between lessons.
Teachers show somewhat higher need-supportive teaching towards students with SEN. However, need-supportive teaching is not stable: it varies from lesson to lesson, and from moment to moment. Furthermore, we do not find a direct effect of need-supportive teaching on intrinsic motivation: focusing on individual students shows that the way students interpret the teaching behaviour might play a role.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Minnaert, Alexander, Supervisor
  • Kupers, Elisa, Co-supervisor
  • de Boer, Anke, Co-supervisor
  • De Jong, F.P.C.M., Co-supervisor, Externe Persoon
Datum van toekenning14-jun.-2022
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
StatusPublished - 2022

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