Advertisement

Educational Psychology Review

, 19:429 | Cite as

When Choice Motivates and When It Does Not

  • Idit Katz
  • Avi Assor
Original Article

Abstract

This article addresses the controversy regarding the value of offering choices as a teaching practice. Inconsistent of results regarding the effects of choice in various settings suggest that choice can be either motivating or de-motivating. Based on the self-determination theory of motivation (Deci & Ryan, 2000), we propose that choice can be motivating when the options meet the students’ need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. For example, choice is motivating when the options are relevant to the students’ interests and goals (autonomy support), are not too numerous or complex (competence support), and are congruent with the values of the students’ culture (relatedness support). Given the many factors involved, it is not surprising that in some studies choice was not found to promote engagement. However, when choice was offered in a way that met the needs of the students, it was found to enhance motivation, learning, and well-being.

Key words

Autonomy support Provision of choice Motivation Self-determination theory Psychological needs 

References

  1. Alfi, O., Assor, A., & Katz, I. (2004). Learning to allow temporary failure: Potential benefits, supportive practices and teacher concerns. Journal of Education for Teaching, 30, 27–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Assor, A., Cohen-Melayev, M., Kaplan, A., & Friedman, D. (2005). Choosing to stay religious in a modern world: Socialization and exploration processes leading to an integrated internalization of religion among Israeli Jewish youth. In M. L. Maehr & S. Karabenick (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement, Vol. 14: Religion and motivation (pp. 105–150). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  3. Assor, A., & Kaplan, H. (2001). Mapping the domain of autonomy support: Five important ways to enhance or undermine student’s experience of autonomy in learning. In A. Efklides, J. Kuhl, & R. Sorrentino (Eds.), Trends and prospects in motivation research (pp. 101–120). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  4. Assor, A., Kaplan, H., & Roth, G. (2002). Choice is good but relevance is excellent: Autonomy affecting teacher behaviors that predict students’ engagement in learning. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 72, 261–278.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Assor, A., Kaplan, H., Roth, G., & Kanat-Maymon, Y. (2005). Directly controlling teacher behaviors as predictors of poor motivation and engagement in girls and boys: The role of anger and anxiety. Learning and Instruction, 15, 397–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman.Google Scholar
  7. Battistisch, V., Solomon, D., Watson, M., & Schaps, E. (1997). Caring school communities. Educational Psychologist, 32, 137–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bereby-Meyer, Y., Assor, A., & Katz, I. (2004). Children’s choice strategies: The effect of age and task demands. Cognitive Development, 19, 127–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brophy, J. E. (1981). Teacher praise: A functional analysis. Review of Educational Research, 51, 5–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burger, J. M. (1987). Increased performance with increased personal control: A self-presentation interpretation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 23, 350–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Burger, J. M. (1989). Negative reactions to increases in perceived personal control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 246–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Butler, R. (1987). Task-involving and ego-involving properties of evaluation: Effects of different feedback conditions on motivational perceptions, interest, and performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 79, 474–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Connell, J. P., Spencer, M. B., & Aber, J. L. (1994). Educational risk and resilience in African American youth: Context, self, and action outcomes in school. Child Development, 65, 493–506.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Connell, J. P., & Wellborn, J. G. (1991). Competence, autonomy and relatedness: A motivational analysis of self-system processes. In M. R. Gunnar & L. A. Sroufe (Eds.), Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology, Vol. 23: Self processes and development (pp. 43–77). Hillsdale, New Jersey: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  15. Cordova, D. I., & Lepper, M. R. (1996). Intrinsic motivation and the process of learning: Beneficial effects of contextualization, personalization and choice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 715–730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. D’Ailly, H. (2004). The role of choice in children’s learning: A distinctive cultural and gender difference in efficacy, interest, and effort. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 36, 17–29.Google Scholar
  17. Davidson, D. (1991a). Children’s decision-making examined with an information-board procedure. Cognitive Development, 6, 77–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davidson, D. (1991b). Developmental differences in children’s search of pre-decisional information. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 52, 239–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Deci, E. (1971). Effects of externally mediated rewards on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 18, 105–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.Google Scholar
  21. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuit: Human needs and the self determination theory of behavior. Psychology Inquiry, 11, 227–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M., & Williams, G. C. (1996). Need satisfaction and the self-regulation of learning. Learning and Individual Differences, 8, 165–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dember, W. N., Galinsky, T. L., & Warm, J. S. (1992). The role of choice in vigilance performance. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 30, 201–204.Google Scholar
  24. Dhar, R. (1997). Consumer preferences for a no-choice option. Journal of Consumer Research, 24, 215–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Eccles, J. S., & Wigfield, A. (1995). In the mind of the actor: The structure of adolescents’ achievement task values and expectancy-related beliefs. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 21, 215–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Flink, C., Boggiano, A. K., & Barrett, M. (1990). Controlling teaching strategies: Understanding children’s self-determination and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 916–924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Flowerday, T., & Schraw, G. (2000). Teachers’ beliefs about instructional choice: A phenomenological study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 634–645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Flowerday, T., & Schraw, G. (2003). Effect of choice on cognitive and affective engagement. Journal of Educational Research, 96, 207–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Flowerday, T., Schraw, G., & Stevens, J. (2004). The role of choice and interest in reader engagement. Journal of Experimental Education, 72, 93–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gracia, T., & Pintrich, P. R. (1996). The effects of autonomy on motivation and performance in the college classroom. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27, 477–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gregan-Paxton, J., & John, R. D. (1995). Are young children adaptive decision makers? A study of age differences in information search behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 21, 567–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gregan-Paxton, J., & John, R. D. (1997). The emergence of adaptive decision making in children. Journal of Consumer Research, 24, 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Grolnick, W. S., & Ryan, R. M. (1987). Autonomy in children’s learning: An experimental and individual difference investigation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 890–898.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Grolnick, W. S., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (1991). Inner resources for school achievement: Motivational mediators of children’s perceptions of their parents. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 508–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hernandez, M., & Iyengar, S. S. (2001). What drives whom? A cultural perspective on human agency. Social Cognition, 19, 269–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Iyengar, S., Huberman, G., & Jiang, W. (2004). How much choice is too much? Contributions to 401(k) retirement plans. In O. S. Mitchell & S. P. Utkus (Eds.), Pension design and structure: New lessons from behavioral finance (pp. 83–97). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Iyengar, S., & Lepper, R. (1999). Rethinking the value of choice: A cultural perspective on intrinsic motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 349–366.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Iyengar, S., & Lepper, R. (2000). When choice is demotivating: Can one desire too much of a good thing? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 995–1006.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kaplan, H., Assor, A., & Roth, G. (2003). Is autonomy important for all students? Evidence from a longitudinal study with children of high and low parental education. Paper presented at the 84th annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.Google Scholar
  40. Katz, I., & Assor, A. (2003). Is autonomy important for non-western students? Examining autonomy as a universal human propensity. Paper presented at the 84th annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago.Google Scholar
  41. Klayman, J. (1985). Children’s decision strategies and their adaptation to task characteristics. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 35, 179–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Langer, E. (1975). The illusion of control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 311–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Langer, E. (1989). Mindfulness: Choice and control in everyday life. London: Harvill.Google Scholar
  44. Lindley, R. (1986). Autonomy. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  45. Markus, H. R, & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Moreno, R., & Flowerday, T. (2006). Students’ choice of animated pedagogical agents in science learning: A test of the similarity attraction hypothesis on gender and ethnicity. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 31(2), 186–207 (April).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Parker, L. E., & Lepper, M. R. (1992). Effects of fantasy contexts on children’s learning and motivation: Making learning more fun. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 625–633.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Payne, J. W. (1976). Task complexity and contingent processing in decision making: An information search and protocol analysis. Organizational Behavior Performance, 16, 366–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pintrich, P. R., & Schunk, D. H. (2002). Motivation in education theory, research, and applications (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  50. Reeve, J., Jang, H., Carrell, D., Jeon, S., & Barch, J. (2004). Enhancing students’ motivation by increasing teachers’ autonomy support. Motivation and Emotion, 28, 147–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reeve, J., Jang, H., Hardré, P., & Omura, M. (2002). Providing a rationale in an autonomy-supportive way as a strategy to motivate others during an uninteresting activity. Motivation and Emotion, 26, 183–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Reeve, J., Nix, G., & Hamm, D. (2003). Testing models of the experience of self determination in intrinsic motivation and the conundrum of choice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 375–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rescher, N. (1960). Choice without preference. Kant-Studien, 51, 142–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Reynolds, P. L., & Symons, S. (2001). Motivational variables and children’s text search. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 14–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ryan, R. M. (1982). Control and information in the intrapersonal sphere: An extension of cognitive evaluation theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 43, 450–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ryan, R. M. (1993). Agency and organization: Intrinsic motivation, autonomy, and the self in psychological development. In J. E. Jacobs (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, Vol. 40: Developmental perspectives on motivation. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  57. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Schraw, G., Flowerday, T., & Reisetter, M. (1998). The role of choice in reader engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 705–714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Shafir, E., & Tverski, A. (1992). Thinking through uncertainty: Non-consequential reasoning and choice. Cognitive Psychology, 24, 449–474.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Skinner, E. A., & Belmont, M. (1993). Motivation in the classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behavior and student engagement across the school year. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 571–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Stefanou, C. R., Perencevich, K. C., DiCinto, M., & Turner, J. C. (2004). Supporting autonomy in the classroom: Ways teachers encourage student decision making and ownership. Educational Psychology, 39, 97–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Ullmann-Margalit, E., & Morgenbesser, S. (1997). Picking and choosing. Social Research, 44, 757–785.Google Scholar
  63. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Weiner, B. (1992). Human motivation: Metaphors, theories, and research. Newbury Park, California: Sage.Google Scholar
  65. Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. (1992). The development of achievement task value: A theoretical analysis. Developmental Review, 12, 265–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wigfield, A., & Eccles, J. (2000). Expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 68–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zuckerman, M., Porac, J., Lathin, D., Smith, R., & Deci, E. L. (1978). On the importance of self-determination for intrinsically motivated behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4, 443–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationBen-Gurion UniversityBeer ShevaIsrael

Personalised recommendations