The Influence of Self-Determination Theory on African American Males' Motivation

The Influence of Self-Determination Theory on African American Males' Motivation

Dina Flores-Mejorado (Houston Baptist University, USA) and Dianne Reed (Houston Baptist University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5990-0.ch004


In this chapter, the authors provide an overview of the research investigating academic resiliency and factors that impact motivation among African American males. Research identifies factors that improve academic achievement and motivation for African American males: mentoring and role modeling; encouraging positive self-identification; school, community, and church involvement; teacher expectations and instructional quality; teacher quality and preparedness; real-life applications of their experiences; and African American male teachers as role models.
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Self-Determination Theory (SDT) represents a broad context for the study of human motivation and personality (Ryan & Deci, 2000). SDT expresses a meta-theory for framing motivational studies, a formal theory that defines intrinsic and varied extrinsic sources of motivation, and a description of the respective roles of intrinsic and types of extrinsic motivation in cognitive and social development and in individual differences (Bryan-Sheard, Stabile, Guillory, & Wold, 2014). SDT components also focus on how social and cultural factors enable or weaken people’s sense of desire and initiative, in addition to their well-being and the quality of their performance (Beaulieu, Best, Seta, & Wood, 2013).

According to SDT researchers, motivation can be defined as energizing individuals’ drive to get them moving, directing individuals in a precise direction, or acting upon something that keeps them going while sustaining their behavior (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2012; Ormrod, Anderman, & Anderman, 2017). As previously stated, motivation can be one of two areas; intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is based on one’s own internal belief system. Moreover, Ormrod, Anderman, and Anderman (2017) stated, “Intrinsically motivated learners may engage in an activity because it gives them pleasure and a sense of fulfillment or seems to be the ethically or morally right thing to do” (p. 361). In contrast, the second area being extrinsic motivation which is based on the external reward system or the avoidance of punishment (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2012; Ormrod, Anderman, & Anderman, 2017). Similarly:

Extrinsic motivated learners perform a task as a means to an end--perhaps the good grades, money, or recognition that particular activities and accomplishments bring-rather than as an end in itself. (Ormrod, Anderman, & Anderman, 2017, p. 361)

As a final point, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are utilized based on instances, events, or perceptions (Anderman & Maehr, 1994; Cokley, Bernard, Cunningham, & Motoike, 2001; Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, & Ryan, 1991). Conditions supporting individuals’ experiences of relatedness, competence, and autonomy are said to foster the most desirable and high quality forms of motivation and engagement for activities, including enhanced performance, persistence, and creativity (Beaulieu, Best, Seta, & Wood, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Competence: The conceptualization of gaining mastery over facets in one’s life – self-efficacy and self-worth.

Mentor: Someone who has a student’s best interest at heart.

Relatedness: The connecting with others – belonging and support.

Intrinsic Motivation: A belief inside oneself which makes them perform well.

Extrinsic Motivation: An available reward system for performing well.

Barriers: Obstacles which hinder students from being successful.

Ethics: A conscious behavior to do the right thing instead of the popular thing.

Autonomy: The desire regarding one’s choice – self-determination and self-direction.

Possibility Thinking: The belief that anything is possible.

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