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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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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Correspondence to John Mark Froiland.

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This article is based on a doctoral dissertation completed at Michigan State University by John Mark Froiland under the supervision of Jere Brophy.

This article is dedicated in memory of Jere Brophy, who made priceless contributions to the fields of educational psychology, teacher education, developmental psychology, school psychology, and motivational science.

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Froiland, J.M. Parental Autonomy Support and Student Learning Goals: A Preliminary Examination of an Intrinsic Motivation Intervention. Child Youth Care Forum 40, 135–149 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-010-9126-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10566-010-9126-2

Keywords

  • Parenting style
  • Homework
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Elementary school students
  • Goal setting