The Effects of learning goal autonomy on achievement in a technical training course: a self-determination theory approach

Karaca, Mehmet Selçuk
Human resource is the key differentiator for market competence for companies and enterprises. Formal trainings are an important way for development of human resource. Every year, billions of dollars are spent on formal trainings. Transfer of training research states that, motivation to learn is an important parameter for effectiveness of trainings. According to Self-Determination Theory, feeling autonomy increases intrinsic motivation and causes better types of extrinsic motivation. Offering choice in goals is a way of providing autonomy. In this research, effect of learning goal autonomy on achievement for an IT training course was studied. A mixed type research was implemented. In the experimental part of the study, experimental group had the learning goal autonomy in their course while control group had instructor determined learning goals. Pretests and posttests were conducted for both groups. According to t-test statistics, there was no statistically significant difference between control and experimental groups. Moreover, follow-up interviews were conducted. Interviews showed that choice in learning goals were accepted positively by participants. But because of lack of knowledge on topics, they had no selection power with them. According to this study, goal autonomy is not possible by providing straight explanations of topics, freedom to select, alternative topics and additional resources. Because novice participants lack field knowledge, they cannot evaluate course content and decide according to their needs and interests. This kind of autonomy is more appropriate for intermediate participants. If participants have intrinsic motivation besides field knowledge, they get the maximum benefit from goal autonomy.