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My iBooks Collection
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

On Self Determination Theory & Student Persistence / Student Retention

Understanding the Self-Determination Theory from Ed Deci himself
 (one of the founders of the theory)

Edward Deci: Promoting Motivation, Health, and Excellence


In my thesis, I am going to use the Self-Determination Theory (SDT).

What can affect the persistence of students benefiting from financial aid? 

Given that financial aid is already an "extrinsic/external" motivator, students benefiting from financial aid still have various levels of motivation.

What else can influence their motivation? What can influence them to persist with their enrollment and eventually to finish their college education?

Let's first learn more about Self-Determination Theory by taking points from Ed Deci's Ted Talk.



"If you are interested in some activity and you enjoy doing it, the motivation is right there inside you ready to come out and move you into action" 

"If you really have something that is important to you, something that you truly value, you're perfectly willing to engage in the behavior that are consistent with that" 

"So both of these things, these two types of autonomous motivation, are all about being fully willing to behave." 

"There are literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds now of scientific investigations that have shown that when you are autonomously motivated, your behavior will be more creative. You'll be a better problem solver. When you encounter obstacles you will be able to think outside the box and figure out what to do about them." 

"Your performance will be better." 

"Your emotions will be more positive." 

"Autonomous motivation is associated with both physical and psychological health."




"Autonomy support is a way of getting people more autonomously motivated."


"Don't ask how you can motivate other people. That's the wrong way to think about it. Instead, ask, 'How can you create the conditions within which other people will motivate themselves'. And the answer, quite simply, is autonomy support." - Edward Deci. 


Let's go back to my thesis on student's persistence. 

Given that students who are benefiting from student financial aid are already "externally" motivated by the financial aid (controlled motivation), what else contributes to their student persistence?

If the answer is autonomous motivation, then what are those conditions/situations that are autonomy supportive for students benefiting from student financial aid?




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