Promoting Autonomous Motivation in In-service Teacher Training Through Problem-based Learning with Self-determined Problem

Project Number
RI 2/11 NY

Project Duration
January 2011 - December 2015


The importance of in-service teacher training in professional development is well accepted, especially when educational innovations have become a regular and continuous pursuit in response to this rapid changing, globalizing, and competitive world in 21st century. Accordingly, a variety of opportunities are provided for teachers to further develop themselves through different programmes of in-service teacher training in Singapore by various organizations. master of Education (MEd) programme conducted by National Institute of Education (NIE) is one such programme for teacher to upgrade their professional knowledge, values and skills. Compared to short-term workshops or programmes, the MEd programme is a rigorous one that needs teachers' long-term commitment and persistence. Therefore, developing enjoyment and autonomous motivation in learning is very important to enhance their commitment to learning and ensure quality of learning. This is especially important when majority of the students are doing the course part-time, having to cope with their studies, heavy teaching workload and family commitments. Therefore, the proposed project aims to use self-determination theory (STD, Ryan and Deci, 2000) and problem-based learning (PBL) model (Tan, 2003) as the guiding frameworks to improve the pedagogical approach in one of NIE post-graduate course to promote autonomous motivation. In PBL, usually, teachers design the problem scenarios to trigger learning. In this research, we propose that students themselves initiate the problems to be solved based on their own working/teaching experiences. Although PBL is widely practiced pedagogical innovation, the proposed project will ne pioneering experiment in this field as it examines the effects of student self-determined problem in PBL process. The proposed project will contribute to the existing research in the following ways. Firstly, the degree of self-determination in learning will be further enhanced in PBL by allowing students to use self-initiated problem scenario. Secondly, the effects of using self-determined problem in PBL will be examined though well-designed quasi-experimental study. Thirdly, this study will examine the effects of self-determination in problem-design process of PBL. Other potential confounding variables will be controlled in the experiment. The proposed project is innovative in bringing together SDT and PBL model to enhance students' autonomous motivation. Through this learning process, students will further develop their problem identifying, problem-solving and self-directed learning skills. These are important competencies to help the students in their pursuit of professional excellence. This research also capitalises on the rigorous test of the effectiveness of new pedagogical practices in producing demonstrable outcomes. The findings will hold significant implications for pedagogical innovations in and beyond NIE postgraduate education.

Funding Source

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