Daily autonomy supporting or thwarting and students' motivation and engagement in the high school science classroom

Erika A. Patall, Rebecca R. Steingut, Ariana C. Vasquez, Scott S. Trimble, Keenan A. Pituch, Jen L. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


This diary study provided the first classroom-based empirical test of the relations between student perceptions of high school science teachers' various autonomy supporting and thwarting practices and students' motivation and engagement on a daily basis over the course of an instructional unit. Perceived autonomy supporting practices were hypothesized to predict autonomous motivation and engagement outcomes, while perceived autonomy thwarting practices were hypothesized to predict controlled motivation and disaffection outcomes. In line with this prediction, multilevel modeling results based on regular reports of 208 high school students in 41 science classes across 6 weeks suggested that 4 perceived daily supports (choice provision, consideration for student preferences and interests, rationales for importance, and question opportunities) and 1 daily thwart (use of uninteresting activities) predicted changes in daily autonomous motivation and engagement. In contrast, changes in students' daily controlled motivation and disaffection were predicted primarily by 3 perceived daily thwarts (controlling messages, suppression of student perspectives, and use of uninteresting activities). Results also suggested that practices interacted such that the perception of thwarts generally bolstered desirable daily relationships between perceived supports and students' motivation and the perception of supports generally mitigated undesirable daily relationships between thwarts and motivation. Supplemental exploratory results suggested that the effects of choice and suppression of student perspectives may be heterogeneous and depend on the outcome and/or the presence of other practices. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-288
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Autonomy support
  • Autonomy thwart
  • Engagement
  • Motivation
  • Teaching practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Daily autonomy supporting or thwarting and students' motivation and engagement in the high school science classroom'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this