The importance of autonomy for rural Chinese children's motivation for learning

Mingming Zhou, Wei Ji Ma, Edward L. Deci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two studies applied self-determination theory (SDT) to investigate the motivation for learning of rural Chinese children. The aim was to test whether findings from studies in western individualist cultures would hold up within a very different, eastern collectivist setting. In the first study, when students' autonomous and controlled motivation for a course were entered simultaneously in a regression analysis, autonomous motivation uniquely positively predicted students' perceptions of interest, competence, and choice in the course, whereas controlled motivation uniquely negatively predicted perceptions of interest and choice. In the second study students' perceptions of instructors' autonomy support during the course predicted changes in autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and perceived competence. These results were discussed in terms of SDT and culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-498
Number of pages7
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Autonomous motivation for learning
  • Autonomy-supportive teaching
  • Motivation in China
  • Self-determination theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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