Motivating gifted and non-gifted students in regular primary schools: A self-determination perspective

T.E. Hornstra, Anouke Bakx, Sven Mathijssen, Jaap Denissen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Self-determination theory posits that students' motivation is fostered when students' basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are satisfied. There are indications that teachers support the needs of gifted students differently than the needs of non-gifted students. However, research on need support and need satisfaction among gifted students is scarce as well as research on how motivation of gifted students can be promoted. Questionnaires were filled out by 1975 Grade 3 to 6 students (10.5% gifted according to teacher nominations) and their teachers (n = 80) from eleven primary schools in the Netherlands. Teacher reports indicated that teachers provided gifted students with more autonomy, less structure, and equal levels of involvement compared to non-gifted students. Furthermore, gifted students perceived equal levels of autonomy satisfaction and relatedness satisfaction with their teachers, but reported more competence satisfaction, and less relatedness satisfaction with classmates than non-gifted students. Gifted students also reported higher levels of adaptive as well as more maladaptive forms of motivation than non-gifted students. Finally, relations between need support, need satisfaction, and motivation were similar for gifted students and non-gifted students, indicating that, similar to non-gifted students, motivation of gifted students can be fostered when their basic psychological needs are satisfied.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101871
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Gifted
  • Motivation
  • Self-determination theory
  • Need support


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