Pathways to student motivation: a meta-analysis of antecedents of autonomous and controlled motivations

Julien S. Bureau, Joshua L. Howard, Jane X.Y. Chong, Frédéric Guay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)


Students’ self-determined motivation (acting out of interest, curiosity, and abiding values) is associated with higher academic well-being, persistence, and achievement. Self-determination theory posits that self-determined motivation is dependent on the satisfaction of three psychological needs (relatedness, competence, and autonomy), which are in turn facilitated through need-supportive behaviors from notable others. In this meta-analysis, conducted over 144 studies and more than 79,000 students, we sought to overview pathways to student motivation in order to verify (1) how do psychological needs rank in the strength of their prediction of self-determined motivation and (2) which autonomy-support providers (parents or teachers) are the most relevant for psychological need satisfaction in students and self-determined motivation. Results show that teacher autonomy support predicts students’ need satisfaction and self-determined motivation more strongly than parental autonomy support. In addition, competence is the most positive predictor of self-determined motivation, followed by autonomy and then by relatedness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-72
Number of pages27
JournalReview of Educational Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • academic motivation
  • autonomy support
  • meta-analysis
  • psychological needs
  • self-determination theory

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