Applying motivational framework in medical education: a self-determination theory perspectives

Med Educ Online. 2023 Dec;28(1):2178873. doi: 10.1080/10872981.2023.2178873.


Background: The application of self-determination theory in explaining student achievement has been well-established in various contexts. However, its application to medical education, particularly in interprofessional education (IPE) remains underexplored. Understanding how students' motivation plays a role in students' engagement and achievement is essential to optimize efforts to improve learning and instruction.

Objective: This two-stage study aims to contextualize the SDT framework to IPE through the adaptation of the Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction to IPE (Study 1) and to demonstrate how SDT can be applied in IPE by examining a model of SDT constructs (Study 2) in predicting outcomes (behavioral engagement, team effectiveness, collective dedication, goal achievement).

Design: In Study 1 (n=996), we adapted and validated BPNS-IPE using confirmatory factor analysis and multiple linear regression using data from 996 IPE students (Chinese Medicine, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy). In Study 2 (n=271), we implemented an IPE program where we integrated SDT approaches and examined the relationship of SDT constructs with IPE outcomes using multiple linear regression.

Results: Our data supported the three-factor structure (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) of BPNS-IPE, meeting the required model fit. Autonomy predicted team effectiveness (F=51.290, p<.05, R2=.580); competence predicted behavioral engagement (F=55.181, p<.05, R2=.598); while relatedness predicted significantly four IPE outcomes: behavioral engagement (F=55.181, p<.01, R2=.598), team effectiveness (F=51.290, p<.01, R2=.580), collective dedication (F=49.858, p<.01, R2=.573), goal achievement (F=68.713, p<.01, R2=.649).

Conclusions: The SDT motivational framework can be adapted and applied in the IPE context to understand and enhance student motivation in medical education. Potential studies with the use of the scale are provided to guide researchers.

Keywords: construct validity; interprofessional education; medical education; scale application; self-determination theory.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Learning
  • Motivation
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Students, Health Occupations* / psychology

Grants and funding

The author(s) reported there is no funding associated with the work featured in this article.