What motivates students to learn? More specifically, how can instruction involving primary sources, digital archives, or museum collections become more engaging and meaningful for students? Purdue librarians and instructional developers have found success in addressing issues of motivation by focusing on three aspects of Self-Determination Theory (SDT): autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy is defined as feelings of volition and choice, students’ ownership of their own learning processes, and endorsement of behaviors requested by an instructor. Competence refers to the degree to which students believe they can perform academically, and relatedness is concerned with student perceptions of feeling connected to other students, the instructor, and the course content. Student perceptions of these three interdependent psychological needs play an important role in fostering or impeding motivation, engagement, and knowledge-transfer. Incorporating principles of SDT in instruction provides specific and measurable goals for fostering student motivation across a variety of instructional contexts.

Purdue Librarians gained exposure to the concepts of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the IMPACT (Instruction Matters: Purdue Academic Course Transformation) program. IMPACT is a program through which faculty redesign foundational courses with the goal of creating learning-centered environments. Librarians, instructional developers, and educational technologists form teams with faculty through a 13-week instructional design process. This panel will apply lessons learned about student motivation to examine how learning experiences which involve digital objects and archives can be structured in ways that motivate students and allow instructors to assess student motivation to influence learning.


self-determination theory, informed learning, assessment measures

Date of this Version


IFLA handout_final_8_9_2016.pdf (116 kB)
Handout with learning activities, references, and further resources.