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Shaista Kurba: A test of Self-Determination Theory in schools.

Presentation Abstract

The present study is a test of Self -Determination theory, which is well established in the field of education. There is a huge body of empirical evidence to support its assumptions that when the three universal psychological needs (Competence, Autonomy & Relatedness) of a child are met they will grow and function optimally and also experience an enhanced psychological wellbeing.


It is evident that Montessori philosophy is overlapping with the components of SDT. The purpose of this study was to examine to what extent the three needs are satisfied in Montessori schools in comparison to the Traditional schools.

Major Findings of the Study

The children in Montessori schools experienced a greater level of psychological needs satisfaction in comparison to their regular school counterparts.
The overall well being of Montessori and Regular school children remains the same.
There are no gender differences with regard to the perceived needs satisfaction.

Limitations of the study

The sample is restrictive as students only from urban schools were selected.
It would be worthwhile to do a longitudinal study to understand how the education system will impact the wellbeing of children at different developmental stages
Due to the limited number of montessori elementary schools a large sample size was not possible.
Other child friendly methods like participant observation or in depth interviews could be considered for rich and holistic description of child’s subjective well being

Directions for Future Research

A mixed method design which involves in-depth interviews of the child combined or participant observation along with quantitative measures can be considered to give a broader perspective
Studies could examine those contributing factors outside classroom that are contributing to the wellbeing independent of the school type.

Keywords: Self-Determination Theory, Montessori Vs. Traditional School, Perceived Support, Well-being.