First Things First: Theory, Research, and Practice



Connell, J.P., Klem, A.M., Lacher, T., Leiderman, S., & Moore, W., with Deci, E. – Institute for Research and Reform in Education

In “Theory, Research, and Practice” First Things First (FTF) is traced back to its roots in the rich tradition of research on human motivation. Three fundamental psychological needs – competence, autonomy and relatedness – are identified as the theoretical foundation for the early development of the FTF core strategies. After providing a review of the core strategies, the authors summarize the growing body of research on FTF – including two longitudinal, quasi‐experimental studies of FTF conducted by independent research organizations – that look at how implementation affects student motivation, engagement and learning. In closing, the authors briefly describe a groundbreaking research project now underway that will more rigorously test the impacts of FTF on an array of important outcomes and further illuminate the motivational processes underlying its effectiveness.