Motivational Benefits of Autonomy-Supportive Teaching Practices

Erika Patall has received $400,000 from the William T. Grant Foundation to conduct a project examining the benefits of autonomy-supportive teaching practices for high school science students’ motivation and learning. This is the second phase of the project and builds on a pilot study examining this issue, also funded by the William T. Grant Foundation for $93,000. This study aims to create a measure of daily need-supportive teacher practices and provide a better understanding of how specific instructional practices support feelings of autonomy, motivate positive behavior, and foster learning among high school students. The research will be conducted in high school science classrooms in the Austin (TX) Independent School District. Prompted by email reminders, students will use an Apple iPod Touch to report on their teachers’ practices and experience of motivation and engagement on a daily basis over the course of a six-week instructional unit. In addition to these reports, classrooms will be videotaped and trained observers will code data on a parallel set of teacher practices.