When Choice Motivates and When It Does Not

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.

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Correspondence to Idit Katz.

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Katz, I., Assor, A. When Choice Motivates and When It Does Not. Educ Psychol Rev 19, 429 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-006-9027-y

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Key words

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