Self-Determination in Direct Support Professionals

Amelia M Ruppmann, Pace University


Individuals with Developmental Disabilities (DD) have been largely marginalized in our society; this appears most evident from the dearth of research available on service provision that promote their development. In the current research Self-Determination theory (SDT) is used as a theoretical framework for investigating how perceptions held by Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) on autonomy-support in their workplace and their own motivation influences their felt sense of autonomy and competency. Based on data analyses from self-report questionnaires, a direct relationship was found between the reported DSPs’ sense of autonomy and competency. The perceived autonomy-support in the workplace had an impactful effect on said positive relationship. While mediation was not seen to be significant, the combination of intrinsic motivation and autonomy explained up to half of the variability with competency, and, therefore, can be used as a fairly accurate predictor of competency. This current research provides an SDT perspective on service provision offered by DSPs by featuring the essentiality of satiating DSPs’ basic psychological needs, and promotion of motivation as well as autonomy-supportive practices in these work environments. Consideration of SDT and its tenets should be integrated as theoretical buttresses organizing managerial practices and training offered to DSPs. Proliferative use of SDT in the DD field will not only assist agencies in satisfying mandated service provision regulations, but also enhance the quality of life for Individuals with DD.

Subject Area

Mental health|Counseling Psychology|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Ruppmann, Amelia M, "Self-Determination in Direct Support Professionals" (2018). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10745988.



Remote User: Click Here to Login (must have Pace University remote login ID and password. Once logged in, click on the View More link above)