Motivation as a predictor of dental students’ affective and behavioral outcomes: Does the quality of motivation matter?

Cesar A. Orsini, Vivian I. Binnie, Óscar M. Jerez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
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Since the motivation to study and engage in academic activities plays a key role in students’ learning experience and well-being, gaining a better understanding of dental students’ motivations can help educators implement interventions to support students’ optimal motivations. The aim of this study, grounded in self-determination theory, was to determine the predictive role of different types of motivation (autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and amotivation) in the affective and behavioral outcomes of dental students. Amotivation is the absence of drive to pursue an activity due to a failure to establish relationships between activity and behavior; controlled motivation involves behaving under external pressure or demands; and autonomous motivation is an internalized behavior with a full sense of volition, interest, choice, and self-determination. A cross-sectional correlational study was conducted in 2016, in which 924 students (90.2% response rate) from years one to six agreed to participate, granting permission to access their current GPAs and completing four self-reported questionnaires on academic motivation, study strategies, vitality, and self-esteem. The results showed that self-determined motivation (i.e., autonomous over controlled motivation) was positively associated with vitality, self-esteem, and deep study strategies and negatively associated with surface study strategies. The contrary results were found for amotivation. In the motivational model, deep study strategies showed a positive association with students’ academic performance. Contrary results were found for surface study strategies. This study extends understanding of the differentiation of motivation based on its quality types and suggests that being motivated does not necessarily lead to positive educational outcomes. Autonomous motivation, in contrast to controlled motivation and amotivation, should be supported to benefit students with regard to their approaches to learning and well-being since it can promote students’ vitality, self-esteem, deep over surface study strategies, and enhanced academic performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-529
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2019

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