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Final Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or room to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
SYM-10: Autonomy Support and Structure
Time: Wednesday, 29/Aug/2012: 9:00am - 10:30am
Session Chair: Richard Anthony Walker, University of Sydney
Discussant: Avi Assor, Ben Gurion University
Organizer: Luke K. Fryer, Kyushu Sangyo University
Location: 457

Session Abstract

This symposium examines the effect of instruction and ability related constructs on students’ adaptive motivations to learn within a Self-determination framework. Three papers provide distinct but convergent perspectives on the role and development of structure and autonomy in educational contexts. The first paper adopts a large scale, mixed methods approach to examine students’ motivations from a distinctively social perspective, and measures the effects of needs-thwarting behaviors on motivation in the context of physical education. Through a meditational analysis the authors argue that need-thwarting behaviors have a deleterious effect on motivation. The second paper experimentally investigates whether Autonomy support is a luxury or a practical necessity within classroom instruction. Results of three related studies clearly advocate for the necessity of autonomy support, while suggesting how it may be effectively integrated into well-structure teaching plans. The final paper, presents a first step towards a larger action research project aimed at improving instruction across an entire English language department. Students’ preferences for Autonomy support, Structure and External-Regulation were measured. Preliminary analysis employed panel structural equation modeling to assess the effect background variables, ability and self-concept. Self-concept significantly predicted a preference for structure. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of teachers’ instructional orientation will be employed to explore the alignment of student and teacher preferences concerning Autonomy and Structure. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in an engaging discussion of an emerging, but essential component of effective instruction.


How does a need thwarting teaching style relate to students motivation in physical education

Leen Haerens, Lynn Van den Berghe, Nathalie Aelterman, Maarten Vansteenkiste

Ghent University, United States of America

SDT theoretically conceptualizes how the social context can actively thwart people’s needs so that less optimal forms of motivation are more likely to emerge (Ryan and Deci, 2000). The purpose of the present study was to investigate need-thwarting dynamics in relation to motivation in the context of physical education (PE).

A sample of 1147 pupils (out of 91 different classes) and their PE teachers participated in the study. Pupils’ perceptions of need deprivation were measured the Teacher as Social Context Questionnaire (TASC; Belmont et al., 1988). An adapted Dutch version of the Behavioral Regulations in Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ-II; Markland & Tobin, 2004) was employed to measure motivation. Video-images of the 91 PE lessons were coded every five minutes for 17 teaching behaviors tapping into different dimensions of need-thwarting behaviors.

Perceived need deprivation related negatively to autonomous motivation (p<0.05), whereas positive relationships with controlled motivation (p<0.001) and amotivation (p<0.001) were found. Observed need-thwarting behaviors related positively to controlled motivation (p<0.01) and amotivation (p<0.05), but were not related to autonomous motivation. Mediation analyses revealed that the relationships between observed need-thwarting behaviors and controlled motivation (79.2% mediated, p<0.001) or amotivation (86.1% mediated, p<0.001) were significantly mediated by perceived need deprivation.

In conclusion, when teachers engage in need-thwarting behaviors, the pupils also notice this, which results in less optimal forms of motivation for PE. Less optimal forms of motivation are known to induce negative outcomes such as less engagement, so it is recommended for teachers to avoid this type of teaching behaviors.

Enhancing Students’ Functioning: Three Ways Supporting Autonomy within Structure

Hyungshim Jang

Hanyang University, Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

The goal of the present paper is to closely examine two issues: (1) Is supporting students’ autonomy during instruction really a luxury (rather than a necessity)? and (2) how can teachers incorporate autonomy support into their otherwise well-structured lesson plans?

To address these two questions, three studies were conducted. In each study, all students participated in a well-structured lesson. In Study 1, participants in the experimental group received curiosity-invoking questions prior to learning the lesson, while participants in the control group were assigned a matched set of questions. Students with curiosity-invoking questions reported higher interest and more engagement during the lesson. In Study 2, participants in the experimental group generated three questions related to the lesson’s topic that they might like to learn about, while participants in the control group were again assigned a matched set of questions. Students in the experimental group reported higher autonomy, higher engagement, and higher conceptual learning. In Study 3, participants in the experimental group received a teacher-provided rationale to explain the lesson’s value, while participants in the control group engaged in the same lesson without the rationale. Participants who received the rationale scored higher on motivation, engagement, and conceptual learning. Taken together, the conclusion is that (1) autonomy support (like structure) functions as a classroom necessity (rather than luxuries); (2) student outcomes are particularly positive when teachers find ways to integrate autonomy support into a well-structured lesson, and (3) autonomy support can be smoothly and effectively built into teachers’ already well-structured lesson plans.

Autonomy support and Structure: Student and teacher alignment 

Luke K. Fryer, Charles J. Anderson

Kyushu Sangyo University, Japan


The proposed presentation examines students’ preferences for and teacher’s instructional orientation towards Autonomy Support (AS) and Structure within the context of a compulsory course context at one Japanese university. In addition to assessing the dimensionality on students’ preferences and the effect of competency, it also addresses the question alignment between teachers’ orientations and students’ expectations.


1) Develop and validate a quantitative instrument for measuring students’ preferences for Autonomy support and Structure. 2) Test the effect of background variables and antecedents for their longitudinal effect on Autonomy support and Structure. 3) Examine teachers’ instructional orientation and assess their relationship with students’ learning preferences.


All quantitative analyses were carried out within Structural Equation Modeling (SEM; Mplus 6.1). EFA and CFA were employed for survey development. Panel SEM tested the effect of gender, department, ability and self-concept on students’ preferences.

Educational and theoretical significance:

A quantitative measure of students’ preferences for AS and Structure was developed and validated. Preliminary SEM results suggest that background variables such as gender and department have a minimal or non-significant effect on students’ preferences. In addition, students’ prior ability appears to play no direct role in students’ preferences. Self-concept, collected six months prior, had a small but significant effect on Structure. The non-significant effect of ability but small effect of Self-concept on Structure requires further investigation.

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