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Use of self-determination theory to support basic psychological needs of preservice science teachers in an environmental science course

Karaarslan, Guliz
Ertepinar, Hamide
Sungur, Semra
In this paper, we examine how the basic psychological needs of preservice science teachers (PSTs) were supported in a series of environmental science course activities informed by self-determination theory (SDT). We collected qualitative data about the PSTs' sense of competence, autonomy, and relatedness through interviews, group discussions, assignments, and reflection papers. Data were analyzed in relation to the instructional design features of the course; namely, collective construction of ideas, student guided discussions, real life connection, and consistent group dynamics. Findings illustrate primary support for cognitive features, including, how course activities supported a sense of confidence in action, sense of self-initiation, awareness of personal role in the system, and awareness of environmental actions. Overall, results suggest that SDT can be effectively utilized as a framework for environmental education in courses designed to foster environmental self-determination and long-lasting pro-environmental behaviors.