An Analysis of Intercultural Students' Self-Determination in Graduate Online Programmes: Implications for Praxis

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Bissessar, Charmaine
Black, Debra
Boolaky, Mehraz
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
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In this study, self-determination is considered to be the individual autonomy in the form of intrinsic motivation which propels the individual to work toward achieving a specific goal. The self-determination of online graduate students was studied in terms of the impact on autonomy, competence and relatedness to their persistence. Unique to this study was the assessment of the potential influence of socio-cultural factors with respect to self-determination. As most of the research regarding online university students’ persistence is generated from the US, Canada, UK and European countries assessing their own domestic populations, the global nature of this study provides a new perspective. Fifty-four online graduate students representing 26 countries (19 lesser developed economies and 7 developed economies) participated in the study. Collectivist versus individualistic cultures were equally represented. Self-determination Theory (SDT) was examined both in terms of the online classroom environment as well as overcoming life challenges for programme perseverance. A correlational matrix was used to test the null hypothesis formulated as ‘There is no statistical significance among the variables of autonomy, competence and relatedness with respect to a correlational matrix’. Results indicated that statistically significant correlations exist among the three variables, and thus the null hypothesis is rejected in these cases. With regards to the variables of autonomy and relatedness, a significant negative correlation exists. The findings indicate that the participants displayed strong internal locus of control, self-directed learning, competency and relatedness in attaining success within the online environment programmes. Thus, within the online environment, it is important for online lecturers to be aware of the different aspects of self-determination inherent in their students and how they can capitalize on them when posing critical thinking and problem-solving questions in the shared discussion forum. // Paper ID 12
Online Learning, Self-Learners, Higher Education