Lindfield Learning Village

Autonomy, Competence, and Intrinsic Motivation in Science Education: A SelfDetermination Theory Perspective

The purpose of this study was to examine a proposed motivational model of science achievement based on self-determination theory. The study relied on U.S. eighth-grade science data from the 2007 Third International Mathematics and Science Study to examine a structural model that hypothesized how perceived autonomy support, perceived competence in science, intrinsic motivation, and science achievement related to each other. Mother’s education and student gender were used as controls. Findings showed that the hypothesized model provided a good fit to the data. The strongest direct effect on science achievement was students’ perceived competence in science. Student intrinsic motivation was shown to have a surprisingly negative effect on science achievement.