Wang, C., Hsu, H., Bonem, E. M., Moss, J. D., & Yu, S.


Manuscript submitted for publication.


The utility of satisfying students’ basic psychological needs has been demonstrated by various studies across grades and disciplines. However, few attempts have been made to examine the importance of basic psychological needs in online learning contexts. Can basic psychological needs theory be successfully applied to online learning environments? Two large-scale studies were conducted to answer this question. First, we examined the applicability of the Basic Psychological Needs Scale (BPNS) among 693 undergraduates in online courses. Results of confirmatory factory analyses confirmed the three latent need factors (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) and two latent method factors (satisfaction and dissatisfaction) model. Second, we tested a motivation and learning model with both online (495 undergraduates) and face-to-face (519 undergraduates) samples. Results from structural equation modeling provided evidence for the distinctive mediating effects of need satisfaction and need dissatisfaction. This study extended the application of the self-determination theory into the online learning environment and supported the generalizability of basic psychological needs.


Keywords: online learning, self-determination theory, basic psychological needs, motivation