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Self-Determination Theory (SDT) posits that, within formal school settings, students’ satisfied needs for a positive teacher-student relationship, perceived competence and autonomy may be utilised to predict their engagement with learning activities. The current research was seeking insights through the research question: What does prior SDT-embedded research reveal to be the strongest sociocultural motivational influences upon students’ self-reported engagement with learning in science and other subjects? The findings from an adapted meta-ethnographic review (MER) revealed that, whilst SDT emphasises the importance of autonomy as a basis for students’ engagement with learning, the motivation to exercise autonomy within science (and other curricula subjects) is a potential outcome cumulatively influenced by the students’ perceived competence and quality of the teacher-student relationship. These findings present the three SDT constructs as hierarchical, in that there is an emergent order of influence from the teacher-student relationship quality (SDT: relatedness) and perceived competence (SDT: competence) upon the quality and persistence of students’ motivated desire to be autonomous during learning activities (SDT: autonomy). The findings are significant, in terms of the proposed hierarchy, and enhancing research practitioners understanding of students’ motivation to engage with science learning activities. The findings are presented such that it may be further applied and modified by academics and practitioners as part of their classroom-based research agendas.


Self-determination theory Student motivation Student engagement Meta-ethnographic review Autonomous motivation

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How to Cite
Roger Wood. (2020). Investigating the Enhancement of Students’ Engagement with Learning Activities through the lens of Self-Determination Theory . European Journal of Teaching and Education, 2(2), 152-182.