Increasing Self-Determination: Teaching Students to Plan, Work, Evaluate, and Adjust

The article describes a study, in which systems were put into place, including self-determination contracts, to assist secondary-age students in their studies by using self-regulation. The study yielded positive results. The overall takeaway of the study was that the students’ increased control over the small adjustments in their lives translated to increased learning.

Author(s): Martin, James E., Dennis E. Mithaug, Phil Cox, Lori Y. Peterson, Jamie L. Van Dyck, Mary E. Cash
Publication Date: Summer 2003


A study was conducted to determine if secondary-age students could use self-determination contracts to regulate the correspondence between their plans, work, self-evaluations, and adjustments on academic tasks. The authors examined the impact of these contracts on the plan, work, evaluation, and adjustment behaviors of 8 secondary-age students with severe emotional/behavioral problems. The students completed daily self-determination contracts to schedule their work on academic tasks, plan for work outcomes, evaluate progress, and adjust for the next day’s activity. One-way repeated-measures (ANOVAs) yielded 15 significant effects for the correspondence between plan and work, between work and evaluation, between evaluation and adjustment, and between adjustment and the next day plan. Pre- and post assessment found significant academic improvement.