+593 995080728

Predictors of Intrinsic Motivation among University Students: An Application of Expectancy-Value Theory

Mohd Zulkifli Abdullah, Abdul Kadir Othman, Mohamad Shahril Mohamad Besir


There has been much debate on the Malaysian education system that ranges from unemployment to lack of soft skills. None of the local universities are ranked within the top 50 Asian University by Times Higher Education. The country also achieves below global average scores in baseline assessment among its 15-year old students in mathematics and science conducted by the OECD. Another worrisome trend involves graduates becoming pickier in selecting the programs, and opting for the easier route by enrolling in courses that would land them career positions within the secured civil service. Considering these issues, there is a need to understand the motivation of students better to excel in their studies and the factors that drive them to achieve good grades. This study seeks to investigate the relationship between internal and external factors that drive students to be intrinsically motivated to perform in their studies. The internal factors are psychological that comprises of perceived competence and self-determination, while the external factors comprise of social support and learning environment. A field survey involving students from sciences and social sciences disciplines yields 621 usable responses. Results from regression analysis indicate that all the factors are significant in predicting the intrinsic motivation of the students. Self-determination is found to be the most influential factor, while the learning environment is regarded as the least important determinant in this research. Subsequently, implications for both academics and practitioners are further discussed in this paper.


Intrinsic Motivation, Perceived Competence, Self-Determination, Social Support, Learning Environment

Full Text:



A. Bandura (1997) Self-efficacy: The exercise of control, New York: Freeman.

A. Burdorf and T. Bruggeling (1996). Reliability of a questionnaire on sickness absence with specific attention to absence due to back pain and respiratory complaints. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 53, (1), 58-62.

A. Wigfield and J. Cambria, J. (2010). Students’ achievement values, goal orientations, and interest: Definitions, development, and relations to achievement outcomes. Developmental Review, 30, (1), 1-35.

B. Cleveland and K. Fisher (2014) The evaluation of physical learning environments: A critical review of the literature. Learning Environments Research, 17, (1), 1-28.

C. Brewster and F. Fager J. (2000). Increasing student engagement and motivation: From time-on-task to homework. Portland, Oregon: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

D. Coon and J. O. Mitterer (2012). Introduction to psychology: Gateways to mind and behavior with concept maps and reviews. Cengage Learning.

D. Maclntyre, K. MacMaster and S. C. Baker (2001). The convergence of multiple models of motivation for second language learning: Gardner, Pintrich, Kuhl, and McCroskey, In Motivation and second language acquisition (Technical Report #23), Edited Z. Domyei and R. Schmidt. Honolulu: Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center, University of Hawai, pp. 461-492.

D. Trouilloud, P. Sarrazin, P. Bressoux and J. Bois (2006). Relation between teachers' early expectations and students' later perceived competence in physical education classes: Autonomy-supportive climate as a moderator. Journal of educational psychology, 98, (1), 75-86.

E. L. Deci and R. M. Ryan (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 19, (2), 109-134.

E. L. Deci and R. M. Ryan (2002) Self-determination research: reflections and future directions, In Handbook on self-determination research, Edited E.L. Deci and R.M. Ryan. Rochester, New York: University of Rochester Press, pp. 431-441.

E. Tezci, F. Sezer, U. Gurgan, and S. Aktan (2015). A Study on Social Support and Motivation. Anthropologist, 22, (2), 284-292.

F. M. Newmann and G. G. Wehlage (1993). Five standards for authentic instruction. Educational Leadership, 50, (7), 8-12.

H. A. Tharbe (2006). Coping with Stress: Are Our Students Proactive? Masalah Pendidikan, (29), 57-66.

I. Cirik (2015). Relationships between Social Support, Motivation, and Science Achievement: Structural Equation Modeling. Anthropologist, 20, (1-2), 232-242.

J. A. M. Murcia, E. C. Gimeno, and A. M. Camacho (2007). Measuring self-determination motivation in a physical fitness setting: validation of the Behavioral Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire-2 (BREQ-2) in a Spanish sample. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 47, (3), 366.

J. E. Martin and L. H. Marshall (1995). Choice Maker: A comprehensive self-determination transition program. Intervention in School and Clinic, (309), 147-156.

J. Eccles (1983). Expectancies, values and academic behaviors, In Achievement and achievement motives, Edited J. T. Spence. San Francisco: Freeman, pp. 75-146.

J. G. Nicholls, P. C. Cheung, J. Lauer, and M. Patashnick (1989) Individual differences in academic motivation: Perceived ability, goals, beliefs, and values. Learning and individual differences, 1 (1), 63-84.

J. Herrington and A. Herrington (1998). Authentic assessment and multimedia: How university students respond to a model of authentic assessment. Higher Education Research & Development, 17, (3), 305-322.

K. A. D’souza and S. Maheshwari (2015). A Methodological Approach for Studying Public Bus Transit Driver Distraction. International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning. 10, (2), 229-244.

K. J. Pugh and D. A. Bergin (2006) Motivational influences on transfer. Educational Researcher. (41), 147–160.

K. R. Wentzel (1998). Social relationships and motivation in middle school: The role of parents, teachers, and peers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, (2), 202-209.

L. G. Pelletier, S. F. Michelle, R. J. Vallerand, and M. B. Nathalie (2001). Associations among perceived autonomy support, forms of self-regulation, and persistence: A prospective study. Motivation and Emotion. 25, (4), pp. 279-306.

L. M. Jeno and A. Diseth (2014). A self-determination theory perspective on autonomy support, autonomous self-regulation, and perceived school performance, Reflecting Education, 9, (1), 1-20.

L. Nota, S. Soresi, L. Ferrari and M. L. Wehmeyer (2010). A Multivariate Analysis of the Self-Determination of Adolescents. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, (2), 245-266.

M. D. L. Mata V. Monteiro and F. Peixoto (2012). Attitudes towards mathematics: Effects of individual, motivational, and social support factors. Child development research.

M. J. Mendell and G. A. Heath (2005). Do indoor pollutants and thermal conditions in schools influence student performance? A critical review of the literature. Indoor Air, 15, (1), 27-52.

M. Wehmeyer (1995). A Career Education Approach: Self-Determination for Youth with Mild Cognitive Disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic, (30), 157-63.

N. Vernadakis, O. Kouli, O., E. Tsitskari, A. Gioftsidou, and P. Antoniou (2014). University students' ability-expectancy beliefs and subjective task values for exergames, Computers & Education, (75), 149-161.

P. R. Pintrich and D. H. Schunk (2002) Motivation in education: Theory. Research, and Applications, Second Edition. Ohio: Ohio Merrill Prentice Hall, Columbus.

R. M. Ryan and E. L. Deci (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being, American Psychologist. (55), 68–78.

R. M. Ryan and J. Stiller (1991). The social contexts of internalization: Parent and teacher influences on autonomy, motivation, and learning, In Advances in motivation and achievement, Edited P. R. Pintrich and M. L. Maehr. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, pp. 115–149.

S. Field, J. Martin, R. Miller, M. Ward, and M. Wehmeyer (1998). A practical guide for teaching self-determination. Virginia: Council for Exceptional Children.

S. M. Kiefer, K. M. Alley and C. R. Ellerbrock (2015). Teacher and peer support for young adolescents’ motivation, engagement, and school belonging. RMLE Online, 38, (8), 1-18.

W. Ahmed, A. Minnaert, G. van der Werf, and H. Kuyper (2010). Perceived social support and early adolescents’ achievement: The mediational roles of motivational beliefs and emotions. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39, (1), 36-46.

W. J. Meerding W. Ijzelenberg M.A. Koopmanschap J.L. Severens and A. Burdorf (2005). Health problems lead to considerable productivity loss at work among workers with high physical load jobs. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, (58), 517–523.

Y. Nissim, E. Weissblueth, L. Scott-Webber, and S. Amar (2016) The effect of a stimulating learning environment on pre-service Teachers' Motivation and 21st Century Skills. Journal of education and learning, 5, (3), 29-39.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Mohd Zulkifli Abdullah, Abdul Kadir Othman, Mohamad Shahril Mohamad Besir

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Licencia de Creative Commons

Esta obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons/Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional