Teachers’ Psychological Need Satisfaction Related to their Need-supportive Teaching

  • Irene Buddingh

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    In Dutch higher education, motivation problems of students are an important cause of dropout and underachievement. According to self-determination theory, need-supportive teaching is a powerful instrument to encourage the motivation of students, in order to increase their performance. Need-supportive teaching is providing and demonstrating autonomy support, structure and involvement. The relation between teachers’ own need satisfaction and optimal functioning as a need-supportive teacher is assumed, but not well researched. Aim of this study was to gain more insight in observed need-supportive teacher behaviour and self-reported psychological need satisfaction of the teachers. The design of this study was a combination of qualitative and quantitative research.
    Teachers of applied psychology from the Amsterdam University of applied sciences, working in an innovative didactical framework, participated in the study. All 19 teachers who were active in the observational period, were observed during 30 minutes of teaching, using the rating sheet for need-supportive teaching (Stroet, Opdenakker and Minnaert, 2013). Afterwards they were asked to fill in the questionnaire on Basic psychological needs frustration and satisfaction (Chen et al., 2015).
    An important finding was that not all 22 components of the rating sheet were observed in the classroom. For example, only three of the four components of dimension affection were observed. This provides insight in the usefulness of the rating sheet and suggestions for further research to validate the rating sheet.
    It also became clear that the teachers of applied psychology who were observed, almost all often thwarted the need for autonomy, although they also teached autonomy supportive. They all provided a lot of structure and not much chaos. Most of the time, teachers showed a lot of involvement and not much disaffection.
    We found significant relations between teachers’ feelings of frustration of their own autonomy and their teaching behaviour: teachers who felt frustrated in their own need for autonomy, taught less supportive for autonomy and involvement. Teachers who felt satisfaction of their need for competence were more autonomy supportive. The total satisfaction of basic psychological needs of the teachers and total need-supportive teaching was also positively related.
    These results confirm that the quality of teachers own motivation might not only affect their own well-being but can also reflect how they interact with their students. This can give directions to interventions to support basic psychological needs of teachers: Such interventions can positively influence their need-supportive behaviour that, in consequence, can positively influence motivation of students.

    Date of Award12 Apr 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorChristian M. Stracke (Supervisor)


    • need-supportive teaching
    • self-determination theory
    • basic psychological needs

    Master's Degree

    • Master Onderwijswetenschappen

    Cite this