Spotlight on cognitive autonomy support and its connection to cognitive processing and student interest
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The purpose of the dissertation was to explore how students’ perceptions of different types of autonomy support can be associated with the motivational construct of student interest, differentiated into situational and individual interest, mediated by different levels of cognitive processing such as surface processing and deep processing, using SEM (structural equation modeling). It was hypothesized that 1) PCAS (perceived cognitive autonomy support) would influence students’ individual interest, the later phase of interest development, and also that 2) the relationship between these would be mediated by deep level of cognitive processing, referred to as deep processing in the study, highlighting the impact of PCAS on both cognitive processing and motivation. To this end, there were three phases to the current study: (a) a first qualitative phase using open-ended questions and a focus group interview about whether and how students perceive and experience different types of autonomy support they encounter from their instructors (Study1A); (b) a second scale development phase to develop and finalize the PCAS-K (perceived cognitive autonomy support, Korean version) and PC-K (perceived choice, Korean version) in the Korean educational context (Study1B); and (c) a third phase to investigate the relationships among students’ perceptions of various types of autonomy support, different levels of cognitive processing, and student interest (Study2, main study). The results suggested that perceived cognitive autonomy support was positively related to situational interest directly and also indirectly to both situational and individual interest, whereas perceived choice was associated with neither interest constructs. In addition, perceived cognitive autonomy support was highly correlated with other constructs such as surface processing and deep processing, whereas perceived choice was not related to any other latent variables in the study. In contrast to my expectations, perceived cognitive autonomy support was not positively related to individual interest by mediation of deep processing. Instead, perceived cognitive autonomy support was positively associated with situational interest, mediated by deep processing. In light of the findings, the study spotlights cognitive autonomy support as a significant predictor of cognitive processing and student motivation. Further research is needed with different individuals in various contexts in order to elucidate further the relationships among these variables.