A classification system for teachers’ motivational behaviors recommended in self-determination theory interventions

Asghar Ahmadi, Michael Noetel, Philip Parker, Richard M. Ryan, Nikos Ntoumanis, Johnmarshall Reeve, Mark Beauchamp, Theresa Dicke, Alexander Yeung, Malek Ahmadi, Kimberley Bartholomew, Thomas K. F. Chiu, Thomas Curran, Gokce Erturan, Barbara Flunger, Christina Frederick, John Mark Froiland, David González-Cutre, Leen Haerens, Lucas Matias JenoAndre Koka, Christa Krijgsman, Jody Langdon, Rhiannon Lee White, David Litalien, David Lubans, John Mahoney, Ma. Jenina N. Nalipay, Erika Patall, Dana Perlman, Eleanor Quested, Sascha Schneider, Martyn Standage, Kim Stroet, Damien Tessier, Cecilie Thogersen-Ntoumani, Henri Tilga, Diego Vasconcellos, Chris Lonsdale

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Teachers’ behavior is a key factor that influences students’ motivation. Many theoretical models have tried to explain this influence, with one of the most thoroughly researched being self-determination theory (SDT). We used a Delphi method to create a classification of teacher behaviors consistent with SDT. This is useful because SDT-based interventions have been widely used to improve educational outcomes. However, these interventions contain many components. Reliably classifying and labeling those components is essential for implementation, reproducibility, and evidence synthesis.We used an international expert panel (N = 34) to develop this classification system. We started by identifying behaviors from existing literature, then refined labels, descriptions, and examples using the Delphi panel’s input. Next, the panel of experts iteratively rated the relevance of each behavior to SDT, the psychological need that each behavior influenced, and its likely effect on motivation. To create a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive list of behaviors, experts nominated overlapping behaviors that were redundant, and suggested new ones missing from the classification. After three rounds, the expert panel agreed upon 57 teacher motivational behaviors (TMBs) that were consistent with SDT. For most behaviors (77%), experts reached consensus on both the most relevant psychological need and influence on motivation. Our classification system provides a comprehensive list of TMBs and consistent terminology in how those behaviors are labeled. Researchers and practitioners designing interventions could use these behaviors to design interventions, to reproduce interventions, to assess whether these behaviors moderate intervention effects, and could focus new research on areas where experts disagreed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1158–1176
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number8
Early online date18 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • behavior change techniques
  • engagement
  • intervention design
  • taxonomy
  • A Classification System for Teachers’ Motivational Behaviours Recommended in Self-Determination Theory Interventions

    Ahmadi, A. (Creator), Noetel, M. (Creator), Parker, P. (Creator), Ryan, R. M. (Creator), Ntoumanis, N. (Creator), Reeve, J. (Creator), Beauchamp, M. R. (Creator), Dicke, T. (Creator), Yeung, A. (Creator), Ahmadi, M. (Creator), Bartholomew, K. (Creator), Chiu, T. K. F. (Creator), Curran, T. (Creator), Erturan, G. (Creator), Flunger, B. (Creator), Frederick, C. (Creator), Froiland, J. M. (Creator), González-Cutre, D. (Creator), Haerens, L. (Creator), Jeno, L. M. (Creator), Koka, A. (Creator), Krijgsman, C. (Creator), Langdon, J. (Creator), White, R. L. (Creator), Litalien, D. (Creator), Lubans, D. (Creator), Mahoney, J. (Creator), Nalipay, M. J. N. (Creator), Patall, E. (Creator), Perlman, D. (Creator), Quested, E. (Creator), Schneider, S. (Creator), Standage, M. (Creator), Stroet, K. (Creator), Tessier, D. (Creator), Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C. (Creator), Tilga, H. (Creator), Vasconcellos, D. (Creator) & Lonsdale, C. (Creator), OSF, 26 Jan 2021


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