Lecture and Discussion Ideas


1. Self-determination theory has been extended to apply to a number of interesting and relevant topics not covered in the text. Depending on the age, major, and background of your students, these may be of interest to them: Parenting, education, close relationships, therapy, and the environment. Resources are available on the SDT website here.

2. Since this chapter talks about the Humanistic movement in psychology, this would be a good place to introduce the theories and work of Abraham Maslow or Carl Rogers. For example, students can read Roger’s classic On Becoming A Person (Rogers, 1961) or his case study of a man with schizophrenia (Rogers, 1967).

3. Should schools pay kids for grades? Harvard economist Roland Fryer Jr., believes so, and set out to set up the experiment to test his findings in local public schools. Read about his controversial plan in this article from Time magazine, April 8, 2010 (Ripley, 2010). Possible discussion questions include:

  • Should schools pay kids for grades, why or why not?
  • Does it make a differences whether we pay kids to attend class or to get good grades? Why?
  • Do you think age of kids makes a difference? Why or why not?
  • Comparing Whites, African-Americans, and Latinos, do you think there is a cultural difference in how or why these incentive programs work?
  • Are we paying kids to be competent or autonomous? Does the answer to this question depend on whom we ask: school officials vs. psychologists?
  • Which is more effective, paying kids to be competent or paying kids to be autonomous? Why?
  • Which one will have better outcomes for these kids in the long run? Why?
  • Comment on the quote “For some kids, doing better on a geometry test is like solving a third-order linear partial differential equation, no matter the incentive”. What does this quote mean? Why won’t paying a person help them solve such equations? What will work?
  • According to your logic, what should we reward kids for? Is money the best way to do this? Is this being addressed by the current study?

4. Research by Mageau et al. (2010) suggests that autonomy fuels passion: Adults and kids are more likely to pursue hobbies like music or sports when they have the chance to follow their own passions. See ScienceDaily for a summary of the research here.

From: Miserandino, M. (2012) Instructor’s Manual to Accompany Miserandino Personality Psychology 1/e. Boston, MA: Pearson.

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