Re: Self-Determination theory versus SCT and AT

From: George (
Date: Fri Feb 04 2005 - 18:00:52 PST

Dear Tony,
dear Mike,
dear all,

I would like to add an interesting article to above issue available at Also, in
comparison, I would like to revert to Bedny on the issue of how we may
look at motivation from the angle of SSTA who, for example, links
(hierarchical (!) levels of) motivation with will: "Motivation is a
more general concept that includes hierarchically organized conscious
and/or unconscious motives. The content of a motive or its position
within the hierarchy may change during work. Wants, intentions, needs,
etc. only become motives when joined with a goal. The concept of will
assumes importance" (cf. [1], p. 178). Now, we may wonder, are the
attributes which Deci and Ryan look at suffice or do not insuffice
(i.e., the innate psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and
relatedness)? Also - sorry if I throw this into the discussion, but it
occupies my mind - what about motivation and goal orientedness from TWO
distinct angles: the one of teaching activity and the one of learning
activity? I think that Deci and Ryan miss this issue as well as Well, we may
think that it is obvious that teaching activity (or the underlying
source of motivation to do build teach activity) should be determined
by the learning activity, but in reality when we build curricula: they
are separate at the beginning while the ultimate target should be, of
course, that teaching activity underlies learning activity. Yet, this
is equally a learning process of and to the teacher or teaching
activity. So, what is then is the actual activity and its
subject-object-tool relationship to meet both ends of learning activity
and teaching activity? Would you agree in this sense that SDT seems to
ignore such aspects?

Best regards,


[1] G. Z. Bedny, M. H. Seglin, and D. Meister, "Activity theory:
history, research and application", Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics
Science, 1 (2000) 2, pp. 168-206.

On Feb 4, 2005, at 9:54 PM, Tony Whitson wrote:

> It seems to me this poses a very interesting problem.
> The autonomy of the individual "self" is obviously not a core tenet of
> On the other hand, Deci and Ryan can be regarded as psychologists
> who specialize in the psychology of individual motivation (rather than
> as comprehensive general social theorists). It seems to me there is no
> reason why a theoretical orientation that recognizes the limitations
> on individual self-determination could not include accounting for
> kinds and degrees of self-determination, as well as the efficacy of
> beliefs in individual autonomy (ideological or otherwise), within
> developing activity systems.
> What do you think?
> On Fri, 4 Feb 2005, George wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> I have recently come across self-determination theory (SDT; cf. [1])
>> and am wondering about your opinion of how you think if we can
>> collate SDT with socio-cultural theory and systemic-structural
>> activity theory (SSTA)? or, does SDT contradict with SCT and SSTA? I
>> am presently working on a paper on e-Learning where I am pointing out
>> that we need a paradigm shift to think in terms of a "Weltanstauung"
>> (whole world view) . the origin of my opinion stems from the
>> difficulties of learning and teaching activities (cf. [2]) and
>> liaises with descriptive and prescriptive systems. Hence, on this
>> ground, I believe that activity theory opens a range of new
>> perspectives because it contains motivational assets of learning and
>> teaching. But, since I am not familiar with SDT, I would appreciate
>> to hear your critical opinion. Thank you very much.
>> George
>> (Hansjoerg von Brevern)
>> Reference:
>> [1] E. L. Deci and R. M. Ryan, "The “What” and “Why” of Goal
>> Pursuits: Human Needs and the Self-Determination of Behavior",
>> Psychological Inquiry, 11 (2000) 4, pp. 227–268.
>> [2] H. Giest and J. Lompscher, "Formation of Learning Activity and
>> Theoretical Thinking in Science Teaching", in Vyogotsky's Educational
>> Theory in Cultural Context, Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive, and
>> Computational Perspectives, A. Kozulin, B. Gindis, V. Ageyev, and S.
>> M. Miller (Eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp.
>> 267-288.
>> -------------------------------------
>> Research in e-Learning Objects, e-Learning meta data standards,
>> didactical activity, Systemic-Structural Activity Theory, and
>> Socio-cultural Theory
> Tony Whitson
> UD School of Education
> NEWARK DE 19716
> _______________________________
> "those who fail to reread
> are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
> -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)

(Hansjoerg von Brevern)


Research in e-Learning Objects, e-Learning meta data standards,
didactical activity, Systemic-Structural Activity Theory, and
Socio-cultural Theory

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