Please report broken links to us. Paid resources are noted with **. Note: all research should be looked at through a critical lens, there is no denying that many research studies fail to be replicated or have mixed results.


The Unschooled Mind**. Gardner, Howard. Basic Books. 2011.

  • An overview of how current instructional practices go against the natural patterns of learning, with suggestions on how to reconstruction schools.

What do I do Monday? Holt, John. 1995.

  • An overview of Holt's methodology of best teaching practice, encouraging students to learn on their own.

How Children Fail. Holt, John. Penguin Education. 1964.

  • This book analyzes how traditional education has led to the destruction of learning by students, ruining their natural sense of discovery they were born with.

The Discovery of the Child**. Montessori, Maria. 1986 (translation).

  • An introduction to the "Montessori Method" - a fully peer-taught and choice-based curriculum employed in Montessori schools throughout the world.


The Emotional Costs of Parents’ Conditional Regard: A Self-Determination Theory Analysis. Assor, Avi, Roth, Guy, & Deci, Edward. Journal of Personality. 2004.

  • Demonstrates that parents who show conditional love toward their children (e.g. withdrawing and giving based on their behavior) saw strong short-term results, but incredibly negative long-term results toward self-directed regulation and behavior.

Less-structured time in children's daily lives predicts self-directed executive functioning. Barker et al. Frontiers in Psychology. 2014. 

  • Study shows how children, when left alone to develop their own structure, are better at self-directed processes in the future.

Physical education teachers’ perceptions about the effectiveness and acceptability of strategies used to increase relevance and choice for students in physical education classes.** Bennie, Andrew et. al. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education. 2017.

  • PE teachers introduced to SDE curriculum felt that not only did SDE increase students’ physical activity, they were more engaged and learned more.

The Influence of School Administrators on Teacher Retention Decisions. Boyd, David et. al. 2019.

  • Teacher autonomy and support from administrators and simply having great leaders is found to be one of the most valuable indicators for teacher retention.

Autonomy in Children's Learning: An Experimental and Individual Difference Investigation. Grolnick, Wendy, Ryan, Richard. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1987.

  • When two groups of students were presented with controlling vs. non-controlled learning, those in a non-controlled (and more autonomous) environment had greater learning outcomes and motivation.

A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Moffitt et al. PNAS. 2011. 

  • Details how low self-control in life leads to overall decreased opportunities and outcomes. The study suggests that universal programs and steps be taken to increase the teaching of self-control/direction from a young age.

Pressure From Above and Pressure From Below as Determinants of Teachers’ Motivation and Teaching Behaviors. Pelletier, Luc, Seguin-Levesque, Chantal, & Legault, Louise. Journal of Educational Psychology. 2002.

  • The more a teacher feels pressured from above (by admin) and/or below (by students), the less likely they are to allow for self-determination in the classroom and in-turn, the more controlling they are.

Self-Determination and Persistence in a Real-Life Setting: Toward a Motivational Model of of High School Dropout. Vallerand, Robert. Fortier, Michelle. Guay, Frederic. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1997.

  • Showcases how self-determination and understanding/emphasizing one's own drive for learning is correlated with one's desire to stay in school.


Motivation and Education: The Self-Determination Perspective. Deci, Edward et al. Educational Psychologist. 1991.

  • An overview of self-determination theory and how its incorporation in school showcases a heavily increased level of learning.

Facilitating Optimal Motivation and Psychological Well-Being Across Life’s Domains. Deci, Edward & Ryan, Richard M. Canadian Psychology. 2008.

  • Relates research between motivation and intrinsic objectives to deeper understanding of subject matter.

Classroom Applications of Research on Self-Regulated Learning. Paris, Scott & Paris, Alison. Educational Psychologist. 2001.

  • Overviews each practice teachers can take to increase self-regulated and determination in their classroom for the benefit of students.

The Role of Goal Orientation in Self-Regulated Learning. Pintrich, Paul. Academic Press. 2000.

  • An overview of how self-regulated learning should be coordinated in a classroom for greater student outcomes.