Exploring the Relationships among Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction and Frustration, Agentic Engagement, Motivation, and Self-Determination in Adolescents with Disabilities

  • Karrie A. ShogrenEmail author
  • Sheida K. Raley
  • Michael L. Wehmeyer
  • Elizabeth Grandfield
  • Julie Jones
  • Leslie A. Shaw


Researchers have separately explored applications and implications of the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and Causal Agency Theory in the school context; however, limited attention has been directed to examining the relations between constructs emerging from SDT (agentic engagement, motivation, and basic needs satisfaction and frustration) and the Causal Agency Theory (self-determination and its essential characteristics—volitional action, agentic action, and action-control beliefs), as well as the use of measures developed to assess these constructs in adolescents with disabilities. We examined the reliability of measures emerging from both theories in adolescents with disabilities, and explored the pattern of means, correlations, and predictive relations among the constructs. We found adequate reliability, and unique patterns of correlations and predictive relationships among the constructs. Adolescents with disabilities showed higher levels of need satisfaction than frustration, as well as moderately high levels of self-determination and agentic engagement, consistent with other research with students with and without disabilities. The findings highlight the role of constructs from positive psychology in the lives of students with and without disabilities and the need for more research that includes students with disabilities and explores their experiences alongside their peers without disabilities in developing causal agency.


Causal Agency Theory Self-Determination Theory Adolescence Disability Measurement Schools 



The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R324A130065 to the University of Kansas. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.

Author Contributions

KAS: designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the paper. SKR: supported data collection, generated descriptive statistics, and assisted in writing the paper. MLW: collaborated on the design of the study and collaborated on editing the paper. EG: conducted the data analyses and edited the paper. JJ: supported study implementation and data collection. LAS: supported data collection and editing the paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Statement

All procedures undertaken in this study were approved in advance by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of the University of Kansas.

Informed Consent

IRB approved informed consent and assent procedures were followed for all participants in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.Julie Jones TherapyHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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