Reexamining the impact of self-determination theory on learning outcomes in the online learning environment

  • Hui-Ching Kayla HsuEmail author
  • Cong Vivi Wang
  • Chantal Levesque-Bristol


While various researchers have conducted work supporting the validity of self-determination theory (SDT) in the conventional learning setting, few attempts have been made to explore its application in the online learning context. In a recent study using structural equation modeling (SEM), Chen and Jang (2010) concluded that the SDT-based model was unable to predict the learning outcomes in online programs. After analyzing the model employed in their study, the researchers of the current study identified possible measurement issues and aimed to further examine the SDT-based model after modifications. More than 300 undergraduate students from seven online courses completed the SDT surveys. The results indicated that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs enhanced self-regulated motivation, which was associated with higher perceived knowledge transfer and increased achievement of course objectives in online courses. This study provides empirical evidence for the application of the SDT-based model in the online learning environment.


Self-determination theory Motivation Online learning Higher education 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tandon School of EngineeringNew York UniversityBrooklynUSA
  2. 2.Center for Instructional ExcellencePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Center for Instructional ExcellencePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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