Volume 54(1) - 2013 - DOI: 10.5032/jae.2013.01031


The purpose of this study was to examine student motivation for SAEs through the lens of the Self-
Determination Theory. Self-Determination Theory proposed that human beings are more genuinely motivated when driven by internal factors as opposed to external factors. We used historical research and general qualitative interpretative methods to develop an explanation of student motivation for SAEs. We examined historical magazines, documents, and books for detailed cases of SAE participation. Three specific time periods were examined: 1928-1934, 1947-1953, and 1966-1973. We found that student motivation for SAEs has been a prevailing topic since the 1920s. SAEs have typically been initiated by utilizing extrinsic motivating forces through mandating, awards, class requirements, or collaborative school projects. Although extrinsic motivation was not ideal, half of the cases studied ended with a developed internal locus of causality. This demonstrated that student motivation to participate in SAEs could be established by external motivators and later sustained by internal stimulus. We recommend that agricultural education practitioners use caution when assigning external rewards. Overuse of external rewards such as money, trophies, or recognition could potentially distort a student's acquisition of the "true" SAE values of enhanced learning and career exploration.

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