The role of received social support and self-efficacy for the satisfaction of basic psychological needs in teacher education


Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, 42:3, 391-409

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The aim of this study is to empirically validate the effect of received social support and perceived self-efficacy on the development of higher levels of self-determination such as autonomy, experiences of competence and relatedness among student teachers within the academic context of universities.
Obtaining a broader understanding of individual and contextual protective factors would allow teacher educators both to help students to thrive at university and establish support for students’ intrinsic motivation.

Focus and research questions - Sharing Beltman’s et al.(2011) concern to help student teachers ‘thrive not just survive’, the authors’ interest in identifying factors suitable for enhancing student teachers’ basic psychological needs led them to the following main research questions:
What is the effect of received social support provided by family and fellow-students on the satisfaction of students’ basic psychological needs of self-determination, and is this effect mediated by perceived self-efficacy?
More specifically, they tested the following hypotheses:
(1) Both higher levels of received social support provided by family and by fellow-students have direct effects on the satisfaction of all three basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness).
(2) Higher levels of received social support by family and by fellow-students lead to higher levels of perceived self-efficacy among students.
(3) Higher levels of perceived self-efficacy lead to higher levels of satisfaction of all three basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, relatedness) of self-determination.

The study - The data were collected in the spring 2016 from a self-selected sample of 697 student teachers from two German Universities with teacher training programs (Heidelberg University of Education, and Osnabrueck University) who completed a paper pencil questionnaire anonymously.

Discussion and implications
The main implications of the authors’ results for teachers’ education are that teaching at universities must be designed in such a way that received social support is promoted, e.g. through cooperation between students in projects, seminars and internships, by stimulating processes of co-construction of knowledge as well as of professional acting, including accompanied phases of reflection in which they give each other appreciative feedback.
In this way, the promotion of social support and positive feedback plays a central role in stabilizing or increasing students’ perceived self-efficacy which itself positively influences their resilience.
They conclude: Learning conditions for student teachers at the university do matter in order to promote intrinsic motivation and, as Zimmermann et al. (2018) confirmed also predict burnout and satisfaction in teacher education.
For the overall model tested in their study, they identified that higher levels of fellow-students support significantly increased the level of all three basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence and relatedness); family support, however leads only to higher levels of autonomy.
This is in line with the findings of Dennis, Phinney, and Chuateco (2005), that peer support is the most helpful strategy for dealing with academic problems, while family members are more likely toprovide emotional support.
Additionally, they were interested in the role of the students’ perceived self-efficacy as mediators of received social support and needs satisfaction.
Their model explains a low proportion for perceived self-efficacy.
Here again they found that only the fellow-students’ support is a relevant source to increase the level of the students’ perceived self-efficacy.
Another focus was on the role of perceived self-efficacy related to the satisfaction of the three basic psychological needs.
They were only able to confirm that a higher level of perceived self-efficacy increased the levels of autonomy and competence, but they could not identify a significant effect on relatedness.
This study has empirically validated for teacher education the insights of other studies (e.g., Holzberger, Philipp, and Kunter 2014) which denote effects of received social support on perceived self-efficacy.
Additionally, the authors identified the so far unexplored effects of fellow students’ social support on the development of higher levels of self-determination, namely competence, autonomy, and relatedness within the academic context of universities for student teachers.
They also detected that the effects of fellow students’ social support are higher than those of family support.
The authors’ findings underline for teacher education the importance of promoting students’ resources as protective factors towards resilience in order to cope successfully during their studies, especially during stressful periods. In line with previous studies (Deci and Ryan 2014; Gagné 2003), they could demonstrate that fellow-students are a central source of support for an increased perceived self-efficacy, as well as for the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness.
Regarding teacher education, supporting self-efficacy is important for the daily routine of student teachers at the university, affecting their physical and psychological health and negatively related to burnout.

Beltman, S., C. Mansfield, and A. Price. 2011. “Thriving Not Just Surviving: A Review of Research on Teacher Resilience.” Educational Research Review 6: 185–207. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2011.09.001
Deci, E. L., and R. M. Ryan. 2014. “Autonomy and Need Satisfaction in Close Relationships: Relationships Motivation Theory.” In Human Motivation and Interpersonal Relationships: Theory, Research, and Applications, edited by N. Weinstein, 53–73. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
Dennis, J. M., J. S. Phinney, and L. I. Chuateco. 2005. “The Role of Motivation, Parental Support, and Peer Support in the Academic Success of Ethnic Minority First-Generation College Students.” Journal of College Student Development 46: 223–236. doi:10.1353/csd.2005.0023
Gagné, M. 2003. “The Role of Autonomy Support and Autonomy Orientation in Prosocial Behavior Engagement.” Motivation and Emotion 27: 199–223. doi:10.1023/A:1025007614869
Holzberger, D., A. Philipp, and M. Kunter. 2014. “Predicting Teachers’ Instructional Behaviors: The Interplay between Self-Efficacy and Intrinsic Needs.” Contemporary Educational Psychology 39: 100–111. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2014.02.001
Zimmermann, F., L. Rösler, J. Möller, and O. Köller. 2018. “How Learning Conditions and Program Structure Predict Burnout and Satisfaction in Teacher Education.” European Journal of Teacher Education 41: 318–342. doi:10.1080/02619768.2018.1448778.

Updated: Dec. 10, 2019


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