Seminar series sponsored by the British Psychological Society
Can current theories of motivation inform
practice in educational contexts?
Target paper for seminar on 8th May, 2009 to be held at
The Faculty of Education, Cambridge University, U.K.
Goal theory and self-determination theory: Theory and current debates
Richard Remedios (Durham University, U.K.) and Ros McLellan (Cambridge University, U.K.)
Introduction to the target paper: The purpose of the first seminar in the series “Can current
theories of motivation inform practice in educational contexts?” focuses on theory and current
debates. With so many potentially useful theories, it was tempting to try and outline them all.
However, we were in danger of writing a book and have therefore chosen to focus on just two
main theories, Goal Theory and Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory (SDT).
The target paper has been split into two papers, one focusing on Goal Theory and one focusing
on SDT. In both papers, we outline the main theoretical underpinnings and then highlight a few
challenges that have emerged for these theories in the last few years. For those of you familiar
with the theories, you may just want to read the controversies.
We hope that the two papers are brief enough to serve as a useful introduction to the types of
conversations we would like to encourage during the day and throughout the series as a whole
but detailed enough to do justice to the finer points of the theory.