On Intrinsic Motivation in Classroom Learning

The significance of autonomy versus control for the maintenance of intrinsic motivation has been clearly observed in studies of classroom learning. For example, several studies have shown that autonomy-supportive (in contrast to controlling) teachers catalyze in their students greater intrinsic motivation, curiosity, and the desire for challenge (e.g., Deci, Nezlek, & Sheinman, 1981; Ryan & Grolnick, 1986). Students who are overly controlled not only lose initiative but also learn less well, especially when learning is complex or requires conceptual, creative processing (Benware & Deci, 1984; Grolnick & Ryan, 1987). Similarly, studies show children of parents who are more autonomy supportive to be more mastery oriented — more likely to spontaneously explore and extend themselves — than children of parents who are more controlling (Grolnick, Deci, & Ryan, 1997).

Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions, Contemporary Educational Psychology 25, 54 — 67 (2000)

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