How Motivation Influences Student Engagement: A Qualitative Case Study

Sitwat Saeed, David Zyngier


The authors use Ryan and Deci’s (2000) Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to better understand how student motivation and engagement are linked combined with Schlechty’s Student Engagement Continuum to analyse the impact of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on students’ different engagement types. The study seeks to understand which type of motivation – intrinsic or extrinsic – is more closely aligned to authentic student engagement as identified by Schlechty (2002, 2011). A qualitative research framework was adopted and data was collected from one elementary school class. According to Ryan and Deci’s SDT, the majority of students who indicated that their motivation type was either intrinsic or integrated regulated motivation also demonstrated that they were authentically engaged in their education (Schlechty, 2002, 2011). The students who preferred extrinsic motivation also showed ritual and retreatist forms of engagement and students demonstrating both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation showed authentic, ritual, retreatist and rebellious engagement. In line with findings by Zyngier (2008) in this particular study at least, when pedagogical reciprocity (Zyngier, 2011) was present, intrinsic motivation assisted authentic student engagement in learning, and that extrinsic motivation served to develop ritual engagement in students however, students who had both types of motivation showed different types of engagement in their learning.

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Journal of Education and Learning   ISSN 1927-5250 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5269 (Online)


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