Overview of the Self-Determination Theory

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Literature Review: Self-Determination Overview of Research Numerous theories have been written on human needs and motivation, focusing on psychological and social needs. The Self-Determination Theory holds that there are three basic human needs that must be met for self-esteem and positive well-being: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy refers to an individual’s sense of choice, initiative, and ownership of one’s behavior; engaging in meaningful and interesting activities is necessary to satisfy this need. Competence is an individual’s sense of power over his or her environment; proficiency in task performance promotes a child’s involvement and determination in task completion. Relatedness is a sense of being connected to valuable people and one’s society; this attachment to others establishes a base for exploring one’s environment. Fulfillment of these needs at all developmental stages relates to a child’s positive emotional affect and results in natural curiosity, desire for learning, and self-controlled behavior. According to researchers Browder, Wood, Test, Karvonen, and Algozzine, “individuals who scored higher on a measure of self-determination than their peers had more positive adult outcomes” (2004, p. 233). Failure to fulfill these needs in children results in poor outcomes, such as reduced engagement, inferior performance, higher dropout rates, difficult behaviors, apathy, distress, and poorer assimilation within social groups (Poulsen, Rodger, & Ziviani, 2006, p. 79; Ryan & Deci, 2000, p. 68; Veronneau, Koestner, & Abela, 2005, p. 280; Wehmeyer, 2004). As children grow and develop, their actions become more self-directed and less subject to outside regulation by others (Poulsen, et al., 2006, p.... ... middle of paper ... ...g lesson plans for promoting self-determination. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 35(1), 8,10- 14. Wehmeyer, M. L. (2004). Beyond self-determination: causal agency theory. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 16(4), 337-359. Wood, M., Davis, K., Swindle, F., & Quirk, C. (1996). Developmental therapy-developmental teaching: Fostering social-emotional competence in troubled children and youth . (3rd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-ed. Wood, W. M., Karvonen, M., Test, D. W., Browder, D., & Algozzine, B. (2004). Promoting student self-determination skills in iep planning. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 36(3), 8-16. Veronneau, M. H., Koestner, R. F., & Abela, J. R. (2005). Intrinsic need satisfaction and well- being in children and adolescents: an application of the self-determination theory. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 24(2), 280-292.
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