Led On Line
Presentazione - About us
Novita' - What's new
Lededizioni Home Page Ricerca - Search
Catalogo - Catalogue
Per contattarci - Contacts
Per gli Autori - For the Authors
Statistiche - Statistics
Cookie Policy
Privacy Policy

Affrontare i primi esami: motivazione, supporto all’autonomia e percezione di controllo predicono il rendimento degli studenti universitari del primo anno

Laura Girelli, Fabio Alivernini, Sergio Salvatore, Mauro Cozzolino, Maurizio Sibilio, Fabio Lucidi


Dropout rates in Italy are very high, particularly in freshmen students (Anvur, 2016). University students’ academic achievement has been found to prevent dropout. The present study tested a predicting model of academic achievement in first-year university students based on self-determination theory, through a longitudinal design with two points in time. Freshmen students in a bachelor program of an Italian university (N = 313; M age = 21.34 years; SD = 4.74; 72.2% female) completed measures of perceived autonomy support from parents and teachers, autonomous motivation, perceived academic control, and intention to drop out from university at the start of their academic year. At the end of the first-semester, information about students’ academic achievement have been collected from the department office. Results from structural equation modeling analyses supported the hypothesized model. Specifically, perceived autonomy support from parents and teachers predicted perceived academic control via autonomous motives; perceived academic control predicted intention to dropout, which, in turn, predicts academic achievement. A major contribution was demonstrating the important role of perceived autonomy support and perceived academic control in freshman students’ academic achievement. These findings could provide a contribution in implementing adequate intervention supporting freshman students in order to promote academic achievement and, consequently, to prevent dropout from university.


Academic achievement; Autonomy support; Freshman students; Motivation; Perceived academic control; Self-determination theory

Full Text:



Aina, C. (2013). Parental background and university dropout in Italy. Higher Education, 65(4), 437–456. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-012-9554-z.

Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T.

Alivernini, F., & Lucidi, F. (2011). Relationship between social context, self-efficacy, motivation, academic achievement, and intention to drop out of high school: A longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Research, 104(4), 241–252. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671003728062.

Alivernini, F., Lucidi, F., & Manganelli, S. (2008). Assessment of academic motivation: A mixed methods study. International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches, 2(1), 71–82. https://doi.org/10.5172/mra.455.2.1.71.

Alivernini, F., & Manganelli, S. (2015). Country, school and students factors associated with extreme levels of science literacy across 25 countries. International Journal of Science Education, 37(12), 1992–2012. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500693.2015.1060648.

Alivernini, F., & Manganelli, S. (2016). The classmates social isolation questionnaire (CSIQ): An initial validation. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 13(2), 264–274. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2016.1152174.

Alivernini, F., Manganelli, S., Cavicchiolo, E., Girelli, L., Biasi, V., & Lucidi, F. (2017). Immigrant background and gender differences in primary students’ motivations toward studying. Journal of Educational Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.2017.1349073.

Alivernini, F., Manganelli, S., & Lucidi, F. (2016). The last shall be the first: Competencies, equity and the power of resilience in the Italian school system. Learning and Individual Differences, 51, 19–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lindif.2016.08.010.

Anvur. (2016). Rapporto biennale sullo stato del sistema universitario e della ricerca [Biennial report on the state of the university system and research] (Agenzia Na). Rome.

Armitage, C. J., & Conner, M. (2001). Efficacy of the theory of planned behaviour: A meta-analytic review. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40(4), 471–499. https://doi.org/10.1348/014466601164939.

Bean, J. P. (1985). Interaction effects based on class level in an explanatory model of college student dropout syndrome. American Educational Research Journal, 22(1), 35–64. https://doi.org/10.2307/1162986.

Biasi, V., Patrizi, N., Vincenzo, C. De, & Mosca, M. (2017). I colloqui di orientamento per facilitare il successo accademico : una indagine sperimentale. Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies, 15, 215–228. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.7358/ecps-2017-015-bias.

Black, A. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). The effects of instructors’ autonomy support and students’ autonomous motivation on learning organic chemistry: A self-determination theory perspective. Sci. Ed., (84), 740–756.

Chatzisarantis, N. L. D., Hagger, M. S., & Smith, B. (2007). Influences of perceived autonomy support on physical activity within the theory of planned behavior. European Journal of Social Psychology, 37(5), 934–954. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.407.

Cheon, J., Lee, S., Crooks, S. M., & Song, J. (2012). An investigation of mobile learning readiness in higher education based on the theory of planned behavior. Computers and Education, 59(3), 1054–1064. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.04.015.

Cheon, S. H., & Reeve, J. (2013). Do the benefits from autonomy-supportive PE teacher training programs endure? A one-year follow-up investigation. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14(4), 508–518. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2013.02.002.

Daniels, L. M., Perry, R. P., Stupnisky, R. H., Stewart, T. L., Newall, N. E. G., & Clifton, R. A. (2014). The longitudinal effects of achievement goals and perceived control on university student achievement. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 29(2), 175–194. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-013-0193-2.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 19(2). https://doi.org/10.1016/0092-6566(85)90023-6.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4).

Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M., Vallerand, R. J., & Pelletier, L. G. (1991). Motivation and education: the self-determination perspective. Educational Psychologist, 26(3–4). https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.1991.9653137.

Fortier, M. S., Vallerand, R. J., & Guay, F. (1995). Academic motivation and school performance: Toward a structural model. Contemporary Educational Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1006/ceps.1995.1017.

Galli, F., Chirico, A., Mallia, L., Girelli, L., De Laurentiis, M., Lucidi, F., … Botti, G. (2018). Active lifestyles in older adults: An integrated predictive model of physical activity and exercise. Oncotarget, 9(39). https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25352.

Girelli, L., Hagger, M., Mallia, L., & Lucidi, F. (2016). From perceived autonomy support to intentional behaviour: Testing an integrated model in three healthy-eating behaviours. Appetite, 96, 280–292. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.027.

Girelli, L., Manganelli, S., Alivernini, F., & Lucidi, F. (2016). A Self-determination theory based intervention to promote healthy eating and physical activity in school-aged children. Cuadernos de Psicología Del Deporte, 16(16), 13–20. Retrieved from http://revistas.um.es/cpd.

Grolnick, W. S., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (1991). Inner resources for school achievement: Motivational mediators of children’s perceptions of their parents. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83(4).

Hagger, M., Chatzisarantis, N. L. D., Hein, V., Soós, I., Karsai, I., Lintunen, T., & Leemans, S. (2009). Teacher, peer and parent autonomy support in physical education and leisure-time physical activity: A trans-contextual model of motivation in four nations. Psychology & Health, 24(6), 689–711. https://doi.org/10.1080/08870440801956192.

Hagger, M. S., & Chatzisarantis, N. L. D. (2009). Integrating the theory of planned behaviour and self-determination theory in health behaviour: A meta-analysis. British Journal of Health Psychology, 14(Pt 2), 275–302. https://doi.org/10.1348/135910708X373959.

Hagger, M. S., & Chatzisarantis, N. L. D. (2016). The trans-contextual model of autonomous motivation in education: conceptual and empirical issues and meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 86(2), 360–407. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654315585005.

Hagger, M. S., Chatzisarantis, N. L. D., Hein, V., Pihu, M., Soós, I., & Karsai, I. (2007). The perceived autonomy support scale for exercise settings (PASSES): Development, validity, and cross-cultural invariance in young people. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 8(5), 632–653. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2006.09.001.

Hu, L.-T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.1080/10705519909540118.

Litalien, D., & Guay, F. (2015). Dropout intentions in PhD studies: A comprehensive model based on interpersonal relationships and motivational resources. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 41, 218–231. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2015.03.004.

McLachlan, S., & Hagger, M. S. (2011). The influence of chronically accessible autonomous and controlling motives on physical activity within an extended theory of planned behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41(2), 445–470. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2010.00721.x.

Muthén, L., & Muthén, B. (2012). Mplus user’s guide (version 7.0). Mplus User’s Guide (Seventh Edition), 1–850. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01711.x.

OECD. (2011). Health at a glance 2011: OECD Indicators. OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/health_glance-2013-en.

Perry, R. P. (2003). Perceived (academic) control and causal thinking in achievement settings. Canadian Psychology, 44(4), 312–331. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0086956.

Perry, R. P., Hladkyj, S., Pekrun, R. H., Clifton, R. A., & Chipperfield, J. G. (2005). Perceived academic control and failure in college students: A three-year study of scholastic attainment. Research in Higher Education, 46(5), 535–569. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-005-3364-4.

Ratelle, C. F., Guay, F., Vallerand, R. J., Larose, S., & Senécal, C. (2007). Autonomous, controlled, and amotivated types of academic motivation: A person-oriented analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(4), 734–746. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.99.4.734.

Reeve, J. (2002). Self-determination theory applied to educational settings. In Handbook of self-determination research. (pp. 183–203). Reeve, Johnmarshall: U Iowa, Div of Psychological & Quantitative Foundations, 361 Lindquist Ctr, Iowa City, IA, US, 52242, johnmarshall-reeve@uiowa.edu: University of Rochester Press.

Reeve, J., & Jang, H. (2006). What teachers say and do to support students’ autonomy during a learning activity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 209–218. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.98.1.209.

Renaud-Dubé, A., Guay, F., Talbot, D., Taylor, G., & Koestner, R. (2015). The relations between implicit intelligence beliefs, autonomous academic motivation, and school persistence intentions: a mediation model. Social Psychology of Education, 18(2), 255–272. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-014-9288-0.

Respondek, L., Seufert, T., Stupnisky, R., & Nett, U. E. (2017). Perceived academic control and academic emotions predict undergraduate university student success: Examining effects on dropout intention and achievement. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(MAR), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00243.

Richardson, M., Abraham, C., & Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students’ academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(2), 353–387. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026838.

Ruthig, J. C., Perry, R. P., Hladkyj, S., Hall, N. C., Pekrun, R., & Chipperfield, J. G. (2008). Perceived control and emotions: Interactive effects on performance in achievement settings. Social Psychology of Education, 11(2), 161–180. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-007-9040-0.

Ryan, R. M., & Connell, J. P. (1989). Perceived locus of causality and internalization: Examining reasons for acting in two domains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(5).

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). Overview of self-determination theory: An organismic-dialectical perspective. In Handbook of self-determination research. (pp. 3–33). Rochester, NY, US: University of Rochester Press.

Shih, S.-S. (2009). An examination of factors related to taiwanese adolescents’ reports of avoidance strategies. Journal of Educational Research, 102(5). https://doi.org/10.3200/JOER.102.5.377-388.

Soenens, B., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2005). Antecedents and outcomes of self-determination in 3 life domains: The role of parents’ and teachers’ autonomy support. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34(6), 589–604. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-005-8948-y.

Stupnisky, R. H., Renaud, R. D., Perry, R. P., Ruthig, J. C., Haynes, T. L., & Clifton, R. A. (2007). Comparing self-esteem and perceived control as predictors of first-year college students’ academic achievement. Social Psychology of Education, 10(3), 303–330. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-007-9020-4.

Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2006). Using Multivariate Statistics (5th Edition). Needham Heights, MA, USA: Allyn and Bacon, Inc.

Tinto, V. (1997). Classrooms as Communities : Exploring the Educational Character of Student Persistence Author ( s ): Vincent Tinto Source : The Journal of Higher Education , Vol . 68 , No . 6 ( Nov . - Dec ., 1997 ), pp . 599-623 Published by : Ohio State University Pres. The Journal of Higher Education, 68(6), 599–623.

Vallerand, R. J. (1997). Toward a hierarchical model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In M. P. B. T.-A. in E. S. P. Zanna (Ed.) (Vol. 29, pp. 271–360). Academic Press. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60019-2.

Vallerand, R. J., Fortier, M. S., & Guay, F. (1997). Self-determination and persistence in a real-life setting: Toward a motivational model of high school dropout. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72(5), 1161–1176.

Vallerand, R. J., & Ratelle, C. F. (2002). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: A hierarchical model. In Handbook of self-determination research. (pp. 37–63). Rochester, NY, US: University of Rochester Press.

Vansteenkiste, M., Simons, J., Lens, W., Sheldon, K. M., & Deci, E. L. (2004). Motivating learning, performance, and persistence: The synergistic effects of intrinsic goal contents and autonomy-supportive contexts. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(2), 246–260. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.87.2.246.

Vansteenkiste, M., Zhou, M., Lens, W., & Soenens, B. (2005). Experiences of autonomy and control among Chinese learners: Vitalizing or immobilizing? Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(3). https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.97.3.468.

Vanthournout, G., Gijbels, D., Coertjens, L., Donche, V., & Van Petegem, P. (2012). Students’ persistence and academic success in a first-year professional bachelor program: The influence of students’ learning strategies and academic motivation. Education Research International, 2012, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/152747.

Venuleo, C., Mossi, P., & Salvatore, S. (2016). Educational subculture and dropping out in higher education: a longitudinal case study. Studies in Higher Education, 41(2), 321–342. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2014.927847.

Violani, C., Lucidi, F., Robusto, E., Devoto, A., Zucconi, M., & Strambi, L. F. (2003). The assessment of daytime sleep propensity: A comparison between the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and a newly developed Resistance to Sleepiness Scale. Clinical Neurophysiology, 114(6), 1027–1033. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1388-2457(03)00061-0.

Williams, G. C., & Deci, E. L. (1996). Internalization of biopsychosocial values by medical students: A test of self-determination theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(4).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ecps-2018-018-gire


Journal of Educational, Cultural and Psychological Studies (ECPS)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (19/05/2010 n. 278)
Online ISSN 2037-7924 - Print ISSN 2037-7932

Research Laboratory on Didactics and Evaluation - Department of Education - "Roma Tre" University

Executive Editor: Gaetano Domenici - Managing  Editor: Valeria Biasci
Editorial Board: Giuditta Alessandrini - Eleftheria Argyropoulou - Massimo Baldacci - Joao Barroso - Richard Bates - Christofer Bezzina - Paolo Bonaiuto - Lucia Boncori - Pietro Boscolo - Sara Bubb  - Carlo Felice Casula - Jean-Émile Charlier - Lucia Chiappetta Cajola - Carmela Covato - Jean-Louis Derouet - Peter Early - Franco Frabboni - Constance Katz - James Levin - Pietro Lucisano  - Roberto Maragliano - Romuald Normand - Michael Osborne - Donatella Palomba - Michele Pellerey - Clotilde Pontecorvo - Vitaly V. Rubtzov - Jaap Scheerens - Noah W. Sobe - Francesco Susi - Giuseppe Spadafora - Pat Thomson
Editorial Staff: Fabio Alivernini - Guido Benvenuto - Anna Maria Ciraci - Massimiliano Fiorucci - Luca Mallia - Massimo Margottini - Giovanni Moretti - Carla Roverselli 
Editorial Secretary:
Nazarena Patrizi