There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and this time I picked this study from this biweekly newsletter written up by Justin Hill:
A recent meta-analysis conducted by Julien S. Bureau and colleagues seeks to identify the strongest predictor of self-motivation in students by analyzing 144 studies consisting of a total of 79,079 participants. The study situates itself within self-determination theory (SDT) and understands student motivation on a scale with intrinsic motivation representing the highest level, followed by extrinsic motivation, and finally by amotivation. Extrinsic motivation is broken into: (1) identified regulation, or a motivation to engage in activities that are personally meaningful, (2) introjected regulation, or a motivation to engage in activities to assert pride or avoid shame, and (3) external regulation, or a motivation to engage in activities to achieve a reward or avoid punishment. Intrinsic motivation and identified regulation jointly represent self-motivation. SDT also posits three needs in the development of self-motivation: autonomy (student perception of learning freely and voluntarily), competence (student belief in the impact of their actions on their learning experience), and relatedness (student feeling of connection to the school and others). Another goal of this study is to identify the importance of teachers and parents in promoting autonomy in students.The correlations of all three needs demonstrated the same pattern: a negative correlation with amotivation, little or no correlation with external regulation, and positive correlations with introjected regulation, identified regulation, and intrinsic motivation. Of particular interest are the correlations of autonomy with identified regulation (ρ = .48) and intrinsic motivation (ρ = .57), competence with identified regulation (ρ = .53) and intrinsic motivation (ρ = .58), and relatedness with identified regulation (ρ = .44) and intrinsic motivation (ρ = .44). Teacher support and parental support for autonomy follow a similar pattern. The correlations of teacher support for autonomy with identified regulation (ρ = .44) and intrinsic motivation (ρ = .48) are larger than parental support for autonomy with identified regulation (ρ = .28) and intrinsic motivation (ρ = .23). Finally, the authors also established the relative weights of autonomy, competence, and relatedness for each type of student motivation. Competence and autonomy contribute the greatest weight to both identified regulation (44.4% and 30.0%, respectively) and intrinsic motivation (42.3% and 39.3%, respectively). The authors interpret these results as showing that competence is the driving factor in student self-motivation followed by autonomy, while relatedness only displays a minimal role. The data also suggests teachers play a more important role in developing student self-motivation than parents. While this study’s reliance on correlational data limits the ability to assert causality, it effectively lays the groundwork for future studies to establish causal links.