A Pedagogical model of autonomy, competence and relatedness for pre-service teacher educators

April, 2021

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, 47:2, 186-200

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Self-determination theory (SDT) asserts that psychological well-being and optimal functioning is based on autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Deci and Ryan 2002a; Niemiec and Ryan 2009).
The present research adds to the current literature about SDT’s application to education, broadly (Ryan and Deci 2016), and, specifically, to satisfaction of basic psychological needs in pre-service teachers (e.g., Korthagen and Evelein 2016; Vermeulen et al. 2012).
The authors test an SDT-inspired model of pre-service teachers’ perceptions of their learning experiences with respect to satisfaction of their basic psychological needs, namely the Pre-Service Teachers Motivation Model (PSTMM).

The present research is an empirical investigation into the validity of the Pre-Service Teachers Motivation (PSTMM) with two specific aims.
First, the authors aimed to establish the factor structure of the PSTMM model and relations among its components.
Second, having first established a satisfactory factor structure, they aimed to test the components’ relations with an extant measure of the satisfaction of basic psychological needs for pre-service teacher (Vermeulen et al. 2012).
Correlations between the PSTMM’s and levels of satisfaction of psychology needs would be taken as evidence of validity.
Furthermore, they explored whether levels of teacher self-efficacy (Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoy 2001) were predicted by the PSTMM.
Given the crucial role of self-efficacy for teachers (Klassen and Tze 2014; Zee and Koomen 2016), the presence of predictive relations between PSTMM and self-efficacy would be taken as additional evidence of the model’s validity.
The research was conducted within the context of pre-service teacher education and, in particular, within a course devoted to classroom management.
Effective classroom management in schools is an international issue impacting on students’ academic outcomes, schools’ performance, student and teacher wellbeing, teacher quality and retention of teachers in schools (OECD 2014; Zee and Koomen 2016).
Pre-service and beginning teachers who demonstrate enhanced classroom management self-efficacy are more likely to engender effective instructional and behavioural outcomes, as well as sustain rewarding teaching careers that buffer burnout.


Data collection involved two separate cohorts of students (n = 185; n = 217), separated by one academic year, who were enrolled in a teacher education degree.
The gender balance of the two cohorts were consistent with national workforce statistics (Weldon 2015).
All students were taught by the same teacher educator, irrespective of cohort and mode of study.

Data were collected using an online survey that opened two weeks prior to the end of semester and closed on the final day of semester.


Satisfaction of Psychological Needs
The Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction Scale for Pre-Service Teachers (BPNST) measures satisfaction of needs and serves as the criterion indicator in this study (Vermeulen et al. 2012). Participants responded to items by indicating their agreement on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (not true at all) to 7 (definitely true) the extent to which the psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness, and competence are generally satisfied in their life.

In the present study, pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs are additionally measured using the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES; Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoy 2001) which measures a teacher’s ‘ . . . judgment of [their] capabilities to bring about desired outcomes of student engagement and learning, even among those students who may be difficult or unmotivated’ (Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoy 2001, 783).
This TSES consists of 24 items, assessed along a 9-point continuum with anchors at 1 (nothing), 3 (very little), 5 (some influence), 7 (quite a bit), and 9 (a great deal).
The scale included three 8-item subscales:
Efficacy for Instructional Strategies, Efficacy for Classroom Management, and Efficacy for Student Engagement.

Results and discussion
This research had aimed to assess the validity of an SDT-inspired model of pre-service teachers’ motivation, the PSTMM.
First, the authors sought to test the model’s factor structure and rendered the proposed model down to three factors:
Relational Dynamics, Student-Centred Organisation, and Connected Learning.
Having established the model’s structure, they then demonstrated its factors’ statistically significant correlations with measures of satisfaction of psychology needs, apropos its foundation in SDT (Deci and Ryan 2002a, 2002b), and self-efficacy, which is germane to teaching practice and professional engagement (Hughes 2012; Klassen and Tze 2014; Tschannen-Moran and Woolfolk Hoy 2001; Zee and Koomen 2016).
Finally, they discerned Relational Dynamics as the most potent predictor of self-efficacy.
Thus, they met the two aims of the research to demonstrate the PSTMM’s validity.
Furthermore, they also found that the mode of delivery of pre-service teachers’ degree qualifications influenced the effect of Relational Dynamics on self-efficacy for classroom management and instruction.

Theoretical Implications
From a theoretical perspective, the present findings contribute to both the conceptualisation of teaching and learning experiences apropos self-determination theory and to the measurement of experiences related to the satisfaction of basic psychological needs.
Indeed, the limited range of measures of basic psychological needs relevant to occupational contexts is noted in the literature (Van den Broeck et al. 2010).
The present findings extend the work of Vermeulen et al. (2012) and Korthagen and Evelein (2016) who measured basic psychological needs in pre-service teachers.
Rather than only measure satisfaction of needs, the PSTMM is bespoke to pre-service teachers’ experiences of their learning; thus, it provides an indirect indicator of their needs being met via their appraisals of their educational experiences in a course.
Furthermore, finding that Relational Dynamics enhances efficacy suggests that the interpersonal dimensions of pedagogy should be emphasised.

Practical Implications
The PSTMM has utility for teacher educators who ascribe to the motivational principles of SDT.
This model is an informative tool for learning and teaching design, and as a reflective-practice tool for teacher educators who wish to determine the motivational impact of their teaching on their pre-service teachers in terms of SDT.
By using PSTMM, educators may discern where there are motivational strengths within their teaching and where adjustments to teaching actions may be required.
The authors speculate whether the PSTMM approach within pre-service teacher degree coursework reflect transfers to graduates’ practices in the workplace.
To what extent does the PSTMM influence graduate teachers’ approach to their own teaching philosophies and motivational practices with future students in their own classrooms?
Future research would do well to test whether the model’s effects transfer into the workplace and thereby further examine the model’s validity and practical utility.

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Weldon, P. R. 2015. The Teacher Workforce in Australia: Supply, Demand and Data Issues. Melbourne, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research.
Zee, M., and H. M. Y. Koomen. 2016. “Teacher Self-efficacy and Its Effects on Classroom Processes, Student Academic Adjustment, and Teacher Well-being: A Synthesis of 40 Years of Research.” Review of Educational Research 86 (4): 981–1015. 

Updated: Jul. 27, 2021


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