Investigating effects of problem-based versus lecture-based learning environments on student motivation

Lisette Wijnia, Sofie M. M. Loyens, Eva Derous

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

54 Citations (Web of Science)


This study examines the effects of two learning environments (i.e., problem-based learning [PBL] versus lecture-based [LB] environments) on undergraduates’ study motivation. Survey results demonstrated that PBL students scored higher on competence but did not differ from LB students on autonomous motivation. Analyses of focus groups further indicated that active learning aspects, such as collaboration are perceived as motivating. However, controlling elements (i.e., mandatory presence) and uncertainty (i.e., in selecting the correct and sufficient literature) were described as detrimental for students’ motivation. In conclusion, PBL does not always seem to lead to higher intrinsic motivation. It is therefore crucial to build in the right amount of structure in learning environments and balance controlling elements versus autonomy, even in learning environments that are intended to be motivating for students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-113
Number of pages13
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Motivation
  • Problem-based learning
  • Self-determination
  • Autonomy support
  • Student-centered


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