Developing Research Questions & Hypotheses


In-class activity: Developing Research Questions & Hypotheses

Directions: Please read the literature review below and then create a research question and hypothesis using the information provided.

Self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan,1985) posits that intrinsic versus extrinsic goal pursuits have positive effects on wellbeing (e.g., psychological health) and learning. SDT delineates three types of motivation: (a) intrinsic motivation—doing an activity for itself and the pleasure and satisfaction derived from participating; (b) extrinsic motivation— performing an activity as a means to an end, to satisfy an external demand, or reward contingency; and (c) amotivation—being neither intrinsically nor extrinsically motivated to perform an activity. The SDT framework was selected because it focuses on the interpersonal environment and the effects of that environment on autonomous and controlled motivation. Specifically, social contexts (e.g., home environment) are characterized in terms of the degree to which they are autonomy supportive or “authoritative” versus controlling or “authoritarian,” with research confirming that autonomy-supportive contexts enhance autonomous motivation whereas controlling contexts diminish autonomous motivation and enhance controlled motivation (e.g.,

Deci, Eghrari, Patrick, & Leone, 1994).

A family environment created by a particular parenting style may also influence one’s general sense of self-efficacy and motivation. Self-efficacy has been defined as the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to produce given attainments (Bandura, 1997). Self-efficacy has been shown to be influential in the actions and success of individuals in many different areas, including overcoming fears, success in the workplace, hard life transitions, and academic performance (Bandura, 1986; Chemers, Hu, & Garcia, 2001). Researchers have recently broadened their study of academic self-efficacy to include the study of college students. Pajares (1996) found academic self-efficacy to be strongly associated with academic performance in college students, with positive correlations ranging from = .49 to = .71. Chemers et al. have also found that academic self-efficacy is a significant predictor of academic performance and expectations. Additionally, researchers have found that as students’ academic expectations and self-efficacy increase, they are more likely to show higher academic performance (Chemers et al. 2001).

1. Identify your research question using the variables described.

2. Identify a hypothesis using the variables described.


Excerpt modified from Turner, E. A., Chandler, M., & Heffer, R. W. (2009). The influence of parenting styles, achievement motivation, and self-efficacy on academic performance in college students. Journal of College Student Development, 50(3), 337-346.


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