Exploring teachers’ motivation to teach: A multisite study on the associations with the work climate, students’ motivation, and teaching approaches

Cesar A. Orsini*, Jorge A. Tricio, Cristina Segura, Doris Tapia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: Using Self-determination Theory, the purpose was to determine whether work climate, students’ motivation, and teachers’ basic psychological needs could predict clinical teachers’ autonomous and controlled motivation to teach and whether clinical teachers’ motivations could predict student- and teacher-centered teaching approaches. Methods: A correlational cross-sectional study was conducted in 2018 across 3 Dental Schools in Chile, in which 206 clinical teachers participated (80.4% response rate). Data were collected on demographic characteristics and 5 self-reported questionnaires measuring teachers’ perceptions of the work climate, students’ motivation, the satisfaction and frustration of their basic psychological needs, motivation to teach, and teaching approaches. Data were analyzed using bivariate correlations and structural equation modeling. Results: Alpha coefficients were acceptable (0.701-0.948). Correlation and structural equation modeling analyses showed that teachers’ perceiving a work climate characterized by a supportive supervisor-teacher relationship and students’ autonomous motivation, predicted the satisfaction of their basic psychological needs leading to autonomous motivation to teach. Autonomous motivation to teach, in turn, predicted a student-centered teaching approach. These results were controlled for the confounding effects of age, gender, teaching experience, and type of university. Conclusions: These results suggest that clinical teachers' optimal motivation is of paramount importance for promoting an adequate learning environment. Therefore, efforts should be made to understand and foster different aspects that promote clinical teachers' satisfaction of their basic psychological needs and autonomous motivation, especially regarding the role of teachers’ supervisors and how teachers perceive their students’ motivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-437
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank all faculty staff for participating in this study, as well as the leadership of the involved Dental Schools and the Association for Dental Education in Chile (ACHEO) for their constant support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Dental Education Association


  • dental education
  • self-determination theory
  • teacher motivation
  • teaching approaches
  • work climate


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