According to 2012 drop-out rates, 20% of high school students will drop out of school or not complete high school in the normal four-year course (Stetser & Stillwell, 2014). With drop-out rates this high, students’ intentions to persist in school are an immediately relevant area of interest. When evaluating this interest, it is important to acknowledge students’ express intentions, as this is a key predictor of behavior (Vallerand, Fortier, & Guay, 1997); students do what they say they will do. A student’s intentions to persist in school are directly related to the level of and extent to which said student’s motivation regarding education is internalized or regulated (Khalkhali, Sharifi, & Nikyar, 2013). Thus it is important for teachers and school administrators to be aware of the student’s form and source of motivation when attempting to guide the student’s intentions.
Motivation, understood as something that causes one to act specifically in regard to the expenditure of effort to accomplish results (Gillet, Berjot, Vallerand, & Amoura, 2012a), can be recognized according to certain behaviors. These include paying attention in class, beginning tasks immediately, completing tasks, volunteering answers, and the appearance of relative happiness, contentment, or eagerness in the classroom (Williams & Williams, 2011). The absence of motivation often leads to frustration or discontentment, and can encumber productivity and wellbeing (Legault, Green-Demers, & Pelletier, 2006). Motivation gradually decreases in the period beginning preschool through high school (Skinner & Belmont, 1993), reaching a steady low at the approximate age of 15. Students then gain the legal ability to choose to drop out at age 16 (Gillet, Vallerand, & Lafrenière, 2012b). This overlap is why it is so crucial to understand students’ motivation and how to influence it. Students who choose to dropout have internalized a motivational orientation that is not self-determined, according to the parameters of Self-Determination Theory (SDT, Vallerand et al., 1997). In this regard, teachers and school administrators need also be aware of whether or not their methods of influencing students’ motivation facilitates self-determined or external motivation. This is indirectly affected in all social contexts in which an individual functions through the fulfillment of certain psychological needs (Sas-Nowosielskil, 2008). According to SDT, these needs are perceived competence, relatedness, and autonomy (Gillet et al., 2012a). Continue reading “Self Determination Theory: Major Tenets and Practical Applications “