Research based on Self Determination Theory shows a relationship between low intrinsic motivation and high drop-out (e.g., Vallerand et al., 1997). Fortunately, instructional design may affect intrinsic motivation (Martens & Kirschner, 2006). Three concepts are important: Competence, relatedness and autonomy of the student (Ryan&Deci, 2000).
Self-determination is the ability to make choices and exercise a high degree of control, such as what the student does and how they do it (Deci et al., 1991; Reeve, Hamm, & Nix, 2003; Ryan & Deci, 2002). Self-determination can be supported by providing opportunities for students to be challenged, such as leadership opportunities, providing appropriate feedback and fostering, establishing and maintaining good relationships between teachers and students. These strategies can increase students’ interest, competence, creativity and desire to be challenged and ensure that students are intrinsically motivated to study. On the other hand, students who lack self-determination are more likely to feel their success is out of their control. Such students lose motivation to study, which causes a state of “helpless learning”. Students who feel helpless readily believe they will fail and therefore, cease to try. Over time, a vicious circle of low achievement develops.