What comes between classroom community and academic emotions: testing a self-determination model of motivation in the college classroom
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In their original formulation of Self-Determination Theory, Deci and Ryan (1985a) claimed that one's self-determined motivation was based on three psychological human needs. Research on self-determination has primarily focused on perceptions of autonomy and competence needs. What has been left out is a focus on the need for relatedness. Because there is an increased interest in the fields of education and psychology on social learning and on learning and classroom communities, it seems appropriate to investigate the need for relatedness. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), the present study addressed how social and academic factors of university-level classrooms, specifically, sense of community and autonomy support, influence student need fulfillment and how need fulfillment influences self-determined motivation. Results indicated that autonomy support and student-instructor interaction positively influenced students’ autonomy need fulfillment. Student connectedness positively influenced students’ sense of relatedness in the classroom. Autonomy influenced students’ intrinsic, identified, and introjected motivation regulation. Relatedness was only a positive predictor for introjected regulation of motivation. Autonomy was a stronger predictor of students’ motivation regulation. Students’ self-determined motivation had been hypothesized to influence academic emotions. Intrinsic motivation positively influenced students’ reported level of enjoyment. Identified regulation was a negative predictor and introjected regulation a positive predictor of hopelessness surrounding classroom experiences. Students’ autonomy need fulfillment was positively predictive of enjoyment, negatively predictive of hopelessness, and the relationship between autonomy and hopelessness was also partially mediated by introjected regulation. Autonomy and enjoyment were partially mediated by intrinsic motivation, and not surprisingly, the relationship between autonomy support and intrinsic motivation was fully mediated by students’ level of autonomy need satisfaction. Questions are addressed concerning classroom environmental variables and theories of motivation and academic emotions.