Bonem, E.M., Fedesco, H. N. & Zissimopoulous, A. N.


Manuscript submitted for publication.


Higher education has seen a shift toward promoting student-centered learning. There has also been a push for identifying the “best” teaching models and an insistence that instructors use these models, despite mixed results regarding their effectiveness. In the current paper, we examine three course features that might influence student learning and achievement: contact hours, active learning, and learning environment. In a large-scale, comprehensive survey resulting in over 14,000 responses from students enrolled in courses constituting various disciplines, course levels, and instructors, data suggest that across all student outcome variables, those in highly autonomy-supportive learning environments experienced significant increases in satisfaction of students’ basic psychological needs, student motivation, course evaluations and academic performance. It appears, then, that what is most important is not the specific techniques used by instructors but rather the quality of the student-instructor interactions.


Keywords: Self-determination theory; active learning; student motivation; contact hours; learning environment