Doctoral defence: Moonika Teppo „Predicting Lower Secondary School Students’ Intrinsic Motivation in Science Learning: the Role of Context and Teaching-Learning Approaches“

On 26 October at 14:00 Moonika Teppo will defend her doctoral thesis „Predicting Lower Secondary School Students’ Intrinsic Motivation in Science Learning: the Role of Context and Teaching-Learning Approaches“.

Professor Miia Rannikmäe (PhD, University of Tartu)

Associate Professor Regina Soobard (PhD, University of Tartu)

Professor Kalle Juuti (PhD, University of Helsinki, Finland)

A central question in education is how to address students’ declining motivation in science learning, especially during adolescence, i.e. the period when students complete primary education and continue in secondary school. Research has shown that this tendency may occur, at least partly, because of insufficient support for students’ basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence and connectedness) satisfaction in learning, the dominance of a teacher-centred learning environment in secondary science classrooms as well as a perceived irrelevance of the science curriculum context. This doctoral thesis focuses on the role played by teaching-learning approaches and key components of context-based learning in predicting changes in students’ (grades 6 to 9) intrinsic motivation in science learning. Empirical data were collected as a part of a large-scale project from lower secondary school (grade 6 and 9) students and science teachers through electronic self-reported questionnaires. A cross-sectional research design was used throughout the thesis to collect data over a three-year period. The results showed a decline in students’ intrinsic motivation whereby grade 6 students perceived science learning more intrinsically motivational comparing to grade 9 students. Results indicated that both grade 6 and 9 students value learning science topics presented in everyday life related (personal or social) context more highly compared to science subject related topics, yet everyday life related science topics predicted student intrinsic motivation the most strongly but had significantly less predictive effect with age. In line with previous research in the literature, traditional approaches (e.g. lecturing, asking questions and class discussions) were perceived to be the main teaching-learning approaches commonly used in science lessons by students and science teachers, however the more frequent use of traditional approaches significantly predicted students’ intrinsic motivation in science learning compared to student-centred approaches (cooperative, experimental). Based on the results, suggestions are provided for researchers interested in further investigating intrinsic motivation, as well as for science teachers on how to better organise their science learning environment in meeting students’ psychological needs for enhancing intrinsic motivation.


Estonian Journal of Education: Call for Papers

Aleksandar Baucal

Aleksandar Baucal is interested in the development of children's new competencies


Come to listen to short lectures by doctoral students and choose your favourite!