How Can We Use Self-Determination Theory to Engage More Z Generation of Students During Onsite Classes for Learning Achievement?

Geta Mitrea


Losing their interest to the onsite classes, after COVID-19 online teaching period, the Z generation of students spent more time on their smartphones being only physically present there. The originality of this study is given by the mixed researched methods (participatory observation, sociological exploratory experiment and self-administrated questionnaire) used to collect the information and identify if receiving autonomy, competence and relatedness from the teachers, students become more engaged in courses activities and learning performance.

Contrary to our initial supposition we were able to conclude that the Z generation of students are not developing `anxiety` feelings when they are separated from their smartphones during classes if they are fully assured the autonomy, competence and relatedness for taking this decision. But, during that period their main thoughts are related to anxiety or expectation that something is to happen and they risk not to see it on their smartphone. Here we can conclude that maybe they are not aware of their dependency and do not consider that exists.

In the whole image of the three-year cohort, the extremities, 1st year and 3rd year of study are more dependent on the smartphone than the 2nd year. Also, the same study years (1st and 3rd), are more motivated and agreed with the established rules and found intrinsic motivation; as long as autonomy, competence and relatedness are accomplished for them. Maybe because 1st year students wish to better integrate into university life and 3rd year students have internalised the rules and they converged with their intrinsic motivation.


Self-Determination Theory; Z Generation; social work students; intrinsic motivation; learning engagement.

Full Text:


(C) 2010-2022 EduSoft