Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Tonks, Stephen M.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF)


Previous research on the basic psychological needs of students (from Self-Determination Theory) in the United States has largely focused on students in K-12 school systems. Additionally, no measure of the basic psychological needs satisfaction and frustration mini- theory has been validated in the United States for students at higher education institutions. The current study sought to contribute to the fields of psychometrics and Self-Determination Theory for students at one large, Midwestern university by adapting a measure of the basic psychological needs satisfaction and frustration and validating it with undergraduate students. Many adaptational changes were made to the measure, including adding twelve new items to the measure. Three hundred thirty-one undergraduate participants’ data were analyzed to understand their psychometric properties and determine model fit, establish validity, and determine reliability. Results of two exploratory factor analyses showed that the subconstructs of the measure were distinct, but hard to interpret. Model 5, a confirmatory factor analysis, showed that there was evidence of a good fitting confirmatory model with eight distinct factors. Lastly, results showed that there is evidence of convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity for the measure, named the Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction and Frustration- Higher Education. Specifying and confirming a model, with evidence for validity, further contributes to Self-Determination Theory research by providing a measure for use with university undergraduates and could serve as a basis of new studies going forward. Additionally, the best fitting model supports previous findings that the needs satisfaction and frustration items should be separated in model testing. Results of the basic psychological needs satisfaction and frustration- higher education predictive validity measures suggest that it may be important to avoid frustration of needs to prevent amotivation for a student. Lastly, the value and cost that a student views their college experience having may also be influenced by their levels of needs satisfaction and frustration, a finding that should be further investigated.


166 pages




Northern Illinois University

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