Child & Youth Care Forum

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 135–149 | Cite as

Parental Autonomy Support and Student Learning Goals: A Preliminary Examination of an Intrinsic Motivation Intervention

  • John Mark FroilandEmail author
Original Paper


In a seven week quasi-experimental study, parents (n = 15) of elementary school students (n = 15) learned autonomy supportive communication techniques that included helping their children set learning goals for homework assignments. Treatment vs. comparison group (n = 30) ANCOVA analyses revealed that the parents in the treatment group perceived their children as becoming more autonomously motivated relative to the comparison group, F(1, 26) = 7.69, p < .05. Children in the treatment group reported increased positive affect toward homework relative to the comparison group, F(1,26) = 5.35, p < .05. Children did not significantly improve on general measures of self reported academic intrinsic motivation or relative autonomy. These preliminary findings suggest that autonomy supportive parenting styles may improve parent’s perceptions of their children’s autonomous motivation and children’s subjective experience of positive affect surrounding homework. In order to draw firmer conclusions about the effects of the intervention, more rigorously controlled studies will be needed in the future.


Parenting style Homework Intrinsic motivation Elementary school students Goal setting 



The author would like to thank the late Jere Brophy for repeatedly sharing insight regarding the application of motivational theories. Mark L. Davison provided helpful consultation regarding statistical analyses. Evelyn Oka, Eugene Pernell, Jr., and Mark Reckase also provided helpful comments while serving on the dissertation committee. Appreciation is extended to the schools, parents, and children who supported or participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special EducationMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of School PsychologyUniversity of Northern ColoradoGreeleyUSA

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