Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology


Educational Psychology and Methodology

Content Description

1 online resource (x, 154 pages) : illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Dianna L Newman

Committee Members

Kristie Asaro-Saddler, Dean Spaulding


Achievement goal orientation, Adult learning, Lifelomg learning, Non-formal education, Satisfaction, Self-determination, Continuing education, Achievement motivation, Autonomy (Psychology)

Subject Categories

Adult and Continuing Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology


This exploratory study investigated how self-perceptions of self-determination and of achievement goal orientation were related to self-perceptions of satisfaction with the learning experience in a population of 495 adults engaged in non-formal lifelong learning through participation as amateur members of the United States Dressage Association. Multivariate statistics were utilized to investigate the effects of self-determination (autonomy, competence and relatedness) and achievement goal orientation (mastery-approach, mastery-avoidance, performance-approach, and performance-avoidance) on self-reported satisfaction with the learning experience; the six satisfaction sub-constructs were opportunities to improve (knowledge and skill), release and diversion (from everyday life), social aspects (interaction with others), (attitudes of) people in the organization, ease of participation (enrollment and attendance), and value for money (of membership and participation). Relatedness and autonomy positively predicted all six sub-constructs of satisfaction with the learning experience but competence only predicted opportunities to improve. Mastery-approach predicted satisfaction with people in the organization, and release and diversion; performance-approach, mastery-avoidance and performance-avoidance were not significant. Findings indicated that adults who select to engage in non-formal learning do not perceive such learning experiences to be focused on achievement of competence; participants placed a higher value on perceptions of belonging, and on autonomous participation. It is suggested that adult lifelong learners engaged in non-formal learning will be more satisfied with the learning experience when the organizational climate fosters relatedness and is autonomy-supportive thereby encouraging pursuit of individual interest.