Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Sarah M. Kiefer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Darlene DeMarie, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bárbara C. Cruz, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.


cognitive development, need supportive teaching, neuromyths, neuroscience literacy


Neuromyths, or misconceptions about the brain and learning that are rooted in scientific fact, have been documented among educators across various subject areas and educational levels throughout the world. The endorsement of neuromyths may affect the ability of educators to support the psychological needs of their students. The present study examined neuromyth endorsement and neuroscience literacy among pre-service educators, as well as their orientations toward autonomy-supportive or controlling motivational styles. Associations between pre- service teachers’ knowledge of the brain (i.e., neuromyth endorsement and neuroscience literacy) and their motivational styles (i.e., autonomy-supportive or controlling) were also explored. Data were gathered from 147 pre-service teachers attending a large university in the southeast United States using an online survey. Pre-service teachers endorsed an average of 31.8% of neuromyths and responded correctly to 67% of the neuroscience literacy statements from the Brain in Education measure. In addition, they were found to have more autonomy-supportive than controlling motivational styles. Neuromyth endorsement and neuroscience literacy accounted for 11% of the variance in autonomy-supportive motivational style but were not significant predictors of controlling motivational style. Ethnicity accounted for 14% of the variance in controlling motivational style. This study provides preliminary evidence of a relation between pre-service teachers’ knowledge of the brain and their orientation toward an autonomy- supportive motivational style. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, as well as limitations of the present study and directions for future research.