Intraindividual Variability of Student Motivation in Lessons (SitIn)

The feeling and emotions that students experience in the classroom, day after day, play an important role in their motivation and learning. But what makes lessons interesting? This dissertation project links aspects of instruction to students’ motivational experience in daily lessons within an intraindividual approach. Based on interest theory (e.g., Krapp, 2002) and self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000), we conceptualize students’ motivation and emotion as fluctuating constructs that vary depending on environmental supports and constraints. Specifically, the objectives of the project are: 1) to describe the extent of intraindividual variability in students’ motivation and emotion in daily lessons; 2) to predict the fluctuation of students’ motivation and its correspondence to a need-supportive climate in the classroom; 3) to investigate individual differences in students’ sensitivity and responsiveness to environmental supports and constraints; and 4) to investigate the domain specificity of these aspects in three school subjects.

The project was conducted with a group of 261 secondary students from two Gymnasium schools in Berlin. In their 7th grade, the students completed questionnaires assessing their experience in all German, mathematics, and second foreign language lessons for 3 consecutive weeks. Students were also recruited for a follow-up assessment in the 8th grade. Our first results confirm that students’ interest experience and felt competence in the classroom are not fixed entities (see Tsai, Kunter, Lüdtke, Trautwein, & Ryan, 2007). Both the students’ motivational resources and classroom instruction contribute to students’ classroom experience.

Key References

Tsai, Y.-M., Kunter, M., Lüdtke, O., Trautwein, U., & Ryan, R. M. (in press). What makes lessons interesting? The role of situation and person factors in three school subjects. Journal of Educational Psychology.

Tsai, Y.-M., Kunter, M., Lüdtke, O., & Trautwein, U. (in press). Day-to-day variation in competence beliefs: How autonomy support predicts young adolescents' felt competence. In C. G. Rhonda & H. W. Marsh (Eds.), International advances in self research: Vol. 3. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing Inc.


Yi-Miau Tsai
Mareike Kunter
Oliver Lüdtke
Ulrich Trautwein

Cooperation Partner:
Richard M. Ryan