Structure provided by the teacher makes the difference on the feeling of competence among talented pre-university students

Author(s): Alexander Minnaert

This contribution focuses on the importance of a structured context provided by teachers on the feeling of competence among talented pre-university students. Based on self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Appleton, Christenson & Furlong, 2008) there is evidence that teachers have the possibilities to influence the feeling of competence among students by providing structure. Previous research on talented pre-university students is, however, missing (De Boer, Minnaert & Kamphof, 2013) in literature. 

Data were collected on secondary schools spread all over the Netherlands by means of four different instruments. 41 teachers and 919 students of seven pre-university schools participated in this study. Analysis of variance is used to scrutinize the differences between regular and talented students (i.e., students that can handle more than the regular curriculum) with respect to their feeling of competence. Besides, differences in the feeling of competence between boys and girls were taken into account. 

The results showed a significant higher feeling of competence among students with teachers providing more structure compared to students with teachers providing less structure in class. Talented students scored significantly higher on their feelings of competence compared to regular students. Also, talented students seemed to benefit more from structure compared to regular students. With respect to gender, the results show that the effect of structure on the feeling of competence is larger for boys than for girls. A recommendation for practice is highlighting the importance of structure for pre-university students’ motivational self-regulation in teacher training.