Levesque-Bristol, C., Bonem, E., Zissimopoulous, A., Wang, C., & Yu, S.


Manuscript submitted for publication.

Increasing evidence is supporting a move away from lecturing towards active engagement of students to support student-centered learning. Guided by the tenets of self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985), we propose a model that best captures the influence that autonomy-supportive learning climates have on student outcomes including student perceptions of basic psychological needs, self-determined motivation, perceived knowledge transfer, student assessment of learning gains and academic achievement. We posit that an autonomy-supportive learning climate will satisfy students’ basic psychological needs leading to improvements in motivation and subsequently, learning outcomes.  The SDT theoretical model was tested with data collected during three consecutive semesters at a large public institution in the Midwest.  Results support the full model proposed by SDT.  Interestingly, although a student-centered learning environment was found to be beneficial for all students, it was found to be even more beneficial for students with initial low ability, as assessed by incoming SAT scores.

Keywords: self-determination theory, motivation, active learning, student-centered learning