Psychological needs and music engagement intentions: a self-determination theoretical perspective on the motivation to continue in music
Liu, Mark Yun-Wu
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Researchers of student motivation have often explained students’ desire to engage in various activities in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Babad, 1993; Legutki, 2010; McPherson, 2000; O’Neill, 1999). However, there is a perpetuating absence of a unifying and theory-based understanding of motivation in music education that illustrates the need for the current study. Using self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan, 2000) as the theoretical framework, I examined (a) the association between fulfillment of psychological needs (i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness) experienced by high school orchestra students and their perceived level of autonomy-supportive learning, and (b) the connection between different qualities of self-determined motivation (i.e., external, introjected, identified, and intrinsic regulation) and students’ intentions to engage in music learning in the future. This cross-sectional quantitative study incorporated an author-designed instrument, which was an adaptation of Basic Psychological Needs Scale (Deci & Ryan, 2000) and Self-Regulation Questionnaire-Learning version (Black & Deci, 2000). I surveyed 706 high school orchestra students in the Midwest, and the response rate was 99.7%. The findings indicate that autonomy (β = .37), competence (β = .17), and relatedness (β = .14) positively predicted music students’ overall outlook on their autonomy-supportive learning. Identified regulation and intrinsic regulation positively predicted music students’ short- (β = .23, β = .34), medium- (β = .15, β = .29), and long-term intentions (β = .25, β = .25) of music engagement, indicating that there is a connection between autonomous regulation in music students and their future engagement intentions. External regulation (β = -.10) negatively predicted short-term intention only, indicating that there is a connection between extrinsic motivation and low intentions to continue must learning. This study provides evidence to support self-determination theory as a viable approach for understanding student motivation in the field of music education. Future research recommendations and implications for teaching are also provided.