Learning for earning: Relating extrinsic motivation to academic commitment




Galvan, Manuel

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Self Determination Theory (SDT) has a successful history of being used to investigate the work conditions that are conducive to employee satisfaction and dedication. This background provides an opportunity to explore the relationship between motivation for major choice and academic commitment to graduation. We used materialism and authenticity as predictors of academic commitment. Using materialism and authenticity as trait-level predictors, the current study attempts to understand how a person's motivation for choice of major will lead to the satisfaction of their basic psychological needs and commitment to graduation.

Two hundred and eighty-two introductory psychology students completed scales assessing Material Values, Authenticity, Work Preferences, Work-related Basic Needs Satisfaction, and Academic Commitment. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) results were consistent with SDT and partly explained academic commitment via two overarching pathways. Materialism and authenticity were negatively correlated with each other. Materialism predicted extrinsically motivated major selection, but we were surprised to find that authenticity did not predict intrinsic major selection. We expected these paths to help us predict academic commitment, and the results largely support these expectations.

The findings of this study have implications for understanding the relation of personal dispositions to student academic commitment. Furthermore, these results may help understand the possible effects of educational practices that facilitate extrinsic or intrinsic motivation. Further longitudinal work can be used to predict relevant outcomes. It is our hope that understanding the dispositional antecedents of student academic commitment will help educators and education professionals predict the academic commitment and performance of prospective students.


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Authenticity, Basic Psychological Needs, Commitment, Extrinsic, Materialism, Self Determination Theory