Autonomy and Competence in German and American University Students: A Comparative Study Based on Self-Determination Theory

Chantal Levesque, Layla R. Stanek, A. Nicola Zuehlke, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

250 Scopus citations

Abstract

According to self-determination theory (R. M. Ryan & E. L. Deci, 2000), supports for autonomy and competence are essential for growth and well-being in any learning environment. Educational contexts differ in their relative support for these 2 needs. The authors examined the role of autonomy and competence in 2 German and 2 American university settings, as they were predicted to differ in terms of their relative emphasis on competence versus autonomy. Invariance analyses supported the construct comparability of the measures and demonstrated that German students felt significantly more autonomous and less competent than American students. Perceived pressures and positive informational feedback were modeled as antecedents of autonomy and competence, and well-being was examined as a consequence. The hypothesized model was generally supported across the 4 samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-84
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Volume96
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2004

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