All You Need is Self-Determination: Investigation of PhD Students’ Motivation Profiles and Their Impact on the Doctoral Completion Process

Mikaël De Clercq, Mariane Frenay, Assaad Azzi, Olivier Klein, Benoit Galand
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 16  •  2021  •  pp. 189-209

The present study aimed at (1) identifying the naturally occurring patterns of motivation among doctoral students and (2) assessing their impact on the doctoral completion process.

Grounded in the self-determination theory, the paper investigated needs satisfaction and the doctoral completion process.

Two complementary methods were used. First, k-mean clustering was used to classify 461 doctoral students according to their feelings of competence, autonomy and relatedness. Second, the completion process of these five profiles was investigated through multi-group path analyses.

This paper provided a motivational perspective on doctoral completion process that highlighted significant individual differences.

Five profiles were identified corresponding to different combinations of satisfaction of their innate psychological needs. The results also revealed significant differences in the completion process from one motivation profile to another.

The doctoral supervision needs to consider the specificities of the patterns of motivation among doctoral students.

A more important investigation of motivational patterns is required to fully understand the doctoral completion process.

A better consideration of motivational profiles would increase doctoral students’ well-being and their persistence.

The effect of motivation and context on student satisfaction and professional efficiency could be further explored.

PhD student, motivation, retention, quantitative research, person-centered approach, supervisor
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