Vansteenkiste, Simons, Lens, Sheldon, et al., 2004, Experiment 1: Teaching recycling in an intrinsically or autonomous way increased interest, learning, and test performance about recycling among Belgian college students
Belgian college students studying to become preschool teachers learned about recycling in class. For some the content was linked to their intrinsic goals (“reading the text could help you know how to teach your future toddlers that they can do something to help the environment”). For others the content was linked to extrinsic goals (“reading the text could teach you how to save money by reusing materials”). Students in the intrinsic-goal condition learned more, performing better on a test of conceptual understanding and contributing more to a group discussion a week later, reported more autonomous motivation, and were more likely to seek out further information about recycling. Similar benefits were also found for an intervention that represented the course content in autonomy-supportive ways.