How important are student-selected versus instructor-selected literature resources for students' learning and motivation in problem-based learning?

Lisette Wijnia, Sofie M. M. Loyens, Eva Derous, Henk G. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


In problem-based learning students are responsible for their own learning process, which becomes evident when they must act independently, for example, when selecting literature resources for individual study. It is a matter of debate whether it is better to have students select their own literature resources or to present them with a list of mandatory instructor-selected literature resources. The current study investigated the effect of using instructor-selected literature resources or student-selected literature resources (from a predetermined set of literature) on several learning outcome variables. The results demonstrated that students in the student-selected literature condition scored higher on autonomous motivation and perceived competence, and lower on perceptions of mental effort during studying. Students in the instructor-selected condition had better test performance on factual test items, whereas no difference was found for the conceptual questions. Overall, the results indicate that letting students select their own literature resources can be beneficial in terms of autonomous motivation, perceived competence, and perceptions of mental effort invested during learning and does not differentially affect conceptual knowledge.
Keywords: Problem-based learning, Self-study, Self-directed learning, Autonomous motivation, Perceived competence
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-58
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Problem-based learning
  • Self-study
  • Self-directed learning
  • Autonomous motivation
  • Perceived competence

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