Roles of Autonomous Motivation, Individualism, and Instructor Support in Student-Centered Learning in South Korea and the United States

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It is commonly understood that students’ autonomous motivation and individualistic orientations and instructors’ autonomy support are important for student-centered learning (SCL). However, few studies have examined this assumption. To help researchers and practitioners design more engaging SCL experiences across diverse cultural contexts, this study examines the associations of these factors with SCL engagement and how these associations compare in different cultures. University students in South Korea and the United States participated in a bold SCL assignment, called Pink Time, in which students decide what and how they learn. Linear, multivariate models were estimated in each context to identify and compare relationships between SCL engagement and student characteristics and perceptions. We found that engagement was high in both contexts. Autonomous motivation, individualism, and perceived instructor support each had significant associations with SCL engagement in South Korea. In the US, which had a smaller sample size, only perceived instructor support was significantly associated. These findings suggest that SCL strategies can be effective across cultures. Also, the narrower classroom context, specifically instructors’ support, may be a stronger driver of engagement than the broader societal context. This study contributes to the scholarly discussion regarding SCL in diverse settings and offers several implications for instructors.