Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 758–770 | Cite as

Connections in the classroom: Separating the effects of instructor and peer relatedness in the basic needs satisfaction scale

  • Heather N. FedescoEmail author
  • Emily M. Bonem
  • Cong Wang
  • Regina Henares
Original Paper


When applying self-determination theory to educational settings, evidence suggests that the basic psychological need of relatedness is actually multi-dimensional, which could result in differential influences on intrinsic motivation. Thus, this study proposes a modification to the operationalization of relatedness. The relatedness items from the adapted Basic Satisfaction Needs at Work scale were altered so that items asked students to separately report the amount of connection they feel with their instructors and peers, as opposed to the original items that asked them to more broadly reflect on people in their course. College students (556 female, 321 male) completed a questionnaire assessing their basic psychological needs, including the two new relatedness subscales, motivation, and academic outcomes. Results of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses revealed that the original relatedness scale should, in fact, be treated as two-dimensional. In addition, of all the basic psychological needs, instructor relatedness was most predictive of student interest/enjoyment in the course and self-reported effort. Conversely, peer relatedness did not significantly predict any outcome variables. Study implications, limitations, and areas for future research are discussed.


Relatedness Self-determination theory Instructor connections Peer connections 



This work was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Grant to Strengthen Innovation in Engaged Teaching and Learning, which was awarded to Colorado College [Grant Number 31300614].

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Colorado CollegeColorado SpringsUSA

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