Research skills are important for university graduates. Therefore it is recognised widely in higher education that students should become actively involved in doing research. However, little research has been done to self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation for research within the context of undergraduate research. There is particularly little research to how self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation for research develop over time while students gain their first research experiences. This calls for a longitudinal single cohort approach. This study aimed at filling this gap by following a cohort of students during one year, while they were working in groups on an undergraduate research project.
The findings of this study suggest that self-efficacy beliefs and intrinsic motivation for research can be promoted by offering students choice and autonomy, promoting feelings of relatedness and stimulating positive social interdependence. Motivation may increase further when students see their research project as being relevant.
To conclude, this study suggests that if teachers want to increase student motivation for research, they should perhaps let them work in small groups, give them autonomy over their project, promote relatedness and positive interdependence, and let them work on a project that has academic or societal relevance.