En kvalitativ undersøkelse om trivsel og motivasjon i høyere utdanning: Et selvbestemmelsesteoretisk perspektiv

Daniel Kristensen has conducted a qualitative study and interviewed Biology students about their experiences in everyday life at the University, and how their experiences affect their psychological well-being and motivation. He presented his thesis entitled “En kvalitativ undersøkelse om trivsel og motivasjon i høyere utdanning: Et selvbestemmelsesteoretisk perspektiv” on June 27th, 2017 and thus obtained his Master’s degree.



In a self-determination theory perspective (Deci & Ryan, 1985), the quality of the interaction between students and the context can be a crucial factor for the student’s well-being and motivation. Central to the theory are the three basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness. Self-determination theory argues that the satisfaction or thwarting of these needs may have a significant impact on well-being and autonomous motivation. To investigate factors in the learning environment that may interact with the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs in students may therefore be important. In this study, I aim to examine how students perceive their everyday life at the university, by shedding light on the students own account of their well-being and motivation.

To solve the research question, I conducted a series of qualitative semi-structured interviews. This interview method is often used in qualitative research because it provides the participants and researcher the opportunity to have a relatively open discussion, with an already established theme. The interview participants were all students who (1) were freshmen at the university, and (2) were participating in a bachelor program in biology. The interviews were recorded on an audio device, and later transcribed. The transcribed data was deductively analysed, and later broken down to smaller segments and put into categories. The categories were subsequently linked to central assumptions in the theoretical framework. The categorization of the comments provided a base for further discussion and reflection. In the discussion, basic psychological needs theory was used in interpreting the participants comments according to the degree they felt their need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness was being satisfied or thwarted. In many ways, the discussion reflects my own interpretation and understanding of the link between the theory and the data material. By interpreting the data material in light of self-determination theory, it was possible to observe different processes and factors that may be paramount in student well-being and motivation. According to my own interpretation, all the participants in the study expressed that they enjoyed, and felt connected, to their academic environment. Some of the participants also conveyed that they felt competent and felt a steady progress in their studies. Furthermore, the participants indicated that the learning context felt autonomy-supportive. Satisfaction of the need for autonomy is, according to self-determination theory, crucial for intrinsic motivation.

Link to the thesis

About the author

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bioCEED lunch seminar UNIS- Sehoya Cotner talks about how Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) Turn ALL Students Into Scientists

imgresDate: 20 March 2017

Time and place: 12.15-13.00 Kapp Lee, UNIS

The presentation will be streamed. To watch it click here.

Sehoya Cotner is Associate professor in Biology teaching and learning at the University of Minnesota and a Professor II in bioCEED.  Currently she is mapping the teaching landscape at UIB and UNIS by using the method Classroom Observation Protocol for Undergraduate STEM (COPUS) applyed to video captured lectures to score behaviors consistently and objectively.

In this presentation, Sehoya will give an overview of the benefits of scientific research experiences during a student’s academic career, discuss CUREs as an efficient and effective mechanism for incorporating meaningful research into the curriculum, give examples, and end with suggestions. She suspects that UNIS is a model system for studying CUREs, and hopes to discuss what aspects of course-based research are associated with positive impacts overall.

bioCEED teaching seminars at UNIS


Roy Andersson and Anders Ahlberg from the Faculty of Engineering, Lund University in Sweden and in collaboration with bioCEED, are visiting UNIS in week 10. During their stay they will give 3 seminars on educational matters. Roy and Anders have worked with educational development and teaching for several years and are well known in their field. Don’t miss the chance to join in!


Monday, March 6th, 13:15–16:00 in Kapp Mitra: Teaching portfolio workshop For teaching staff (including post docs and PhD students). For more information click here.



Tuesday, March 7th, 12:15–13:00 in Lassegrotta: Brown bag lunch seminar, “PhD learning hurdles in STEM disciplines-mirrored by student talks and manuscripts”

In this lunch seminar for supervisors and doctoral students we´ll unpack and discuss what doctoral students’ early scientific talks and draft manuscripts may tell us about scientific thinking and science communication, and how generic skill development may be promoted. The seminar draws on observations during 15 years of extensive communication training at the Faculty of Engineering (LTH), Lund University (ca 120 PhD students in training per year).

The seminar will be streamed. Click here to watch the seminar.

Tuesday, March 7th, 13:15–16:00 in Kapp Schoultz: “How to become a better teacher”

For PhD students and post doc. For more information click here.



New project: Numerical Competence and Student-Active Research

Olav Thon Foundation has granted NOK 1.4 million to bioCEED’s project “Numerical competence and student-active research”. The project will develop and extend the learning platform bioST@TS with quantitative methods and tools, and support student participation in research programs that train these numerical skills.

Biological research requires extensive use of statistical and quantitative methods, with which students traditionally have little experience. The project aims at developing learning methods and tools that train students in designing biological experiments, collecting data, and performing statistical analysis. Students will use these numerical methods, for instance to study bird migration and breeding ecology in Svalbard.

The Olav Thon Foundation published the following statement in its recent press release (in Norwegian):

«Dette er et svært spennende og innovativt utviklingsprosjekt innen biologiutdanningen, hvor man tar sikte på å utvikle og ta i bruk nye digitale hjelpemidler».

Translation: “This is a highly exciting and innovative project in the field of biology education where the aim is at developing and making use of new digital resources”.

This project is a bioCEED collaboration led by Sigrunn Eliassen (UiB), Jonathan Soulé (UiB) and Øystein Varpe (UNIS).