According to developer Richard M. Ryan and Edward L.
Deci, self-determination theory or for short SDT is a theory of motivation. Self-determination
theory focuses on the part where people’s behavior is self-motivated and
self-determined. This theory can be applied in education, healthcare,
relationship, psychotherapy, psychopathology, organizations, sports and many
There are three main components or three basic
psychological needs in self-determination theory which is autonomy, competence
and relatedness. Autonomy is the need that concerns about having power or being
in control about something. Deci and Ryan stated that autonomous does not mean
independent only but it is about having free will when doing something that is
based on own interest.
Competence on the other hand is the ability to do
something successfully. It can also mean the capability of an individual to do
given task properly. It has to be together with knowledge and skills needed so
it would not be a baseless confidence to do the given task.
Thirdly, relatedness is the need to have connection
or relationship with other people, may it be familial relationship, friendship
or even romantic relationship. These connections helps to have the feeling of
belonging in an individual.
In self-determination theory, there is also
something called intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is behavior that is
driven by own interest and not driven by external factors. For example, a poet
that is passionate about their work would produce their art so they can express
their creativity, not for the pay that they will get later on. A simple way to
recognize intrinsic motivation is when an individual says “I do it because I
want to” or “I do it because I like it”.
If I were a lecturer and I want to improve my
students’ productivity and psychological well-being, first I would give
assignments according to their capability. As we know, each and everyone has
their own strength and weaknesses. So it is actually advisable to give out
assignments according to their strengths so they would feel more confident and
competent in working on their assignments. The study made by Black and Deci
(2000) revealed that the students’ reports of entering the course for
relatively autonomous (vs. controlled) reasons predicted higher perceived
competence and interest/enjoyment and lower anxiety and grade-focused
performance goals during the course.
Other than that, I would always guide the students
on doing their assignments and praise them to boost their competence as it
would increase our interaction as lecturer and student. Not only would it help
them in their assignments, it would also give off a positive light upon me as a
lecturer. According to the study, students who perceived an autonomy supportive
environment experienced greater levels of autonomy, competence, and relatedness
and had higher scores on an index of self-determination(Standage, Duda, &