• DENNIS CHAN PAUL LEONG Department of Education and Social Sciences, Open University Malaysia, Sarawak, Malaysia.




21st century learners, self-directed learning, humanistic theory, social constructivism theory, self-determination theory


The education model in the 21st century shall be learner-centered. Learners are expected to be independent to engage in self-directed learning with the integration of technological tools in developing necessary 21st century skills. However, the foundation of this education model shall not be neglected as positive emotion and motivation are the determinants of achieving the desired outcomes. The researcher applied a comparative review method to contrast the three learning theories, namely (1) humanistic theory (2) social constructivism theory, and (3) self-determination theory which are significant in the self-directed learning context. The inference of these theories on personal and social development, emotional stability, as well as the motivation of learners in the 21st century was also examined in this paper. The outcomes of this review paper benefit educators in the curriculum and pedagogy design, as well as aid researchers in understanding phenomena and formulating appropriate research frameworks for future studies. For understanding emotional stability and motivation among the 21st century learners, the researcher concluded that the humanistic aspect of learning shall not be compromised. Furthermore, the cause-and-effect of the emotion and motivation constructs deserves a more detailed empirical investigation.


Acosta-Gonzaga, E., Ramirez-Arellano, A. (2021): The Influence of Motivation, Emotions, Cognition, and Metacognition on Students’ Learning Performance: A Comparative Study in Higher Education in Blended and Traditional Contexts. – SAGE Open 11(2): 16p.

Adams, G.R., Marshall, S.K. (1996): A Developmental Social Psychology of Identity: Understanding the Person-In-Context. – Journal of Adolescence 19(5): 429-442.

Alleman, J., Brophy, J. (1998): Assessment in a Social Contructivist Classroom. – Social Education 62(1): 32-34.

Bashir, M.M., Kabir, Md. R., Rahman, I. (2016): The Value and Effectiveness of Feedback in Improving Students’ Learning and Professionalizing Teaching in Higher Education. – Journal of Education and Practice 7(16): 38-41.

Brown, J.S., Collins, A., Duguid, P. (1989): Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. – Educational Researcher 18(1): 32-42.

Caplan, B., Morgan, J., Noroña, A.N., Tung, I., Lee, S.S., Baker, B.L. (2019): The Nature and Nurture of Social Development: The Role of 5-HTTLPR and Gene-Parenting Interactions. – Journal of Family Psychology: JFP: Journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43) 33(8): 927-937.

Chaturvedi, M., Chander, R. (2010): Development of Emotional Stability Scale. – Industrial Psychiatry Journal 19(1): 37-40.

Chen, P., Schmidtke, C. (2017): Humanistic Elements in the Educational Practice at a United States Sub-Baccalaureate Technical College. – International Journal for Vocational Education and Training 4: 117-145.

Chiew, K.S., Braver, T.S. (2011): Positive Affect Versus Reward: Emotional and Motivational Influences on Cognitive Control. – Frontiers in Psychology 2: 10p.

Crisogen, D.T. (2015): Types of Socialization and Their Importance in Understanding the Phenomena of Socialization. – European Journal of Social Science Education and Research 2(4): 331-336.

Deci, E.L., Ryan, R.M. (1985): Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. – Plenum Press 372p.

Drew, C. (2021): What is the Humanistic Theory in Education? – Helpful Professor Official Portal. Retrieved from:


Farrer, A. (2022): What Is Social and Personal Development? – Practical Adult Insights Official Portal. Retrieved from:


Graham, C.R., Henrie, C.R., Gibbons, A.S. (2013): Developing models and theory for blended learning research. – In Blended Learning, Routledge, 20p.

Guardia, J.L. (2009): Developing Who I Am: A Self-Determination Theory Approach to the Establishment of Healthy Identities. – Educational Psychologist 44(2): 90-104.

Huang, Y.C. (2021): Comparison and Contrast of Piaget and Vygotsky’s Theories. – 7th International Conference on Humanities and Social Science Research (ICHSSR 2021) 54: 28-32.

Kadam, J.R., Patil, V.G., Dhenge, S.A., Murai, A.M. (2018): Communication Skills and Personality Development. – Scientific Publishers 172p.

Khadimally, S. (2021): Role of the social constructivist theory, andragogy, and computer-mediated instruction (CMI) in adult ESL learning and teaching environments: How students transform into self-directed learners through mobile technologies. – In Research Anthology on Adult Education and the Development of Lifelong Learners, IGI Global 27p.

Khan, I.U., Hameed, Z., Yu, Y., Islam, T., Sheikh, Z., Khan, S.U. (2018): Predicting The Acceptance of MOOCs In a Developing Country: Application of Task-Technology Fit Model, Social Motivation, And Self-Determination Theory. – Telematics and Informatics 35(4): 964-978.

Kim, B. (2001): Social constructivism. – In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology 1(1): 55-61.

Laar, E.V., Deursen, A.J.A.M.V., Dijk, J.A.G.M.V., Haan, J.D. (2020): Determinants of 21st-Century Skills and 21st-Century Digital Skills for Workers: A Systematic Literature Review. – SAGE Open 10(1): 14p.

Loeng, S. (2020): Self-Directed Learning: A Core Concept in Adult Education. – Education Research International 12p.

Madsen, S.R., Wilson, I.K. (2012): Humanistic Theory of Learning: Maslow. – In N. M. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning, Springer, US 4p.

Making Thinking Visible with Technology (MTVT) (2009): Partnership for 21st century skills. – MTVT Official Portal. Retrieved from:


Martinez-Argüelles, M., Plana-Erta, D., Hintzmann, C., Batalla-Busquets, J.M., Badia-Miró, M. (2015): Usefulness Of Feedback In E-Learning from The Students’ Perspective. – Intangible Capital 11: 627-645.

McLeod, S.A. (2019): What Is the Zone of Proximal Development? – Simply Psychology Official Portal. Retrieved from:


Meyer, D.K., Turner, J.C. (2006): Re-conceptualizing Emotion and Motivation to Learn in Classroom Contexts. – Educational Psychology Review 18(4): 377-390.

Nguyen, T. (2014): Situated Motivation: A Framework for how EFL Learners are motivated in the Classroom. – International Journal of English Language and Translation Studies 2(1): 120-129.

Ogunjimi, M.O., Lawal, B.M. (2020): Assessment of Lecturers’ Perceptions of Postgraduate Students’ Academic Motivation and Emotions in South-West, Nigeria. – Anatolian Journal of Education 5(2): 51-58.

Palit, K. (2018): Social Constructivism In Classroom. – International Journal of Recent Research Review 25(1): 9-11.

Pant, P., Joshi, P.K. (2016): A Comparative Study of Emotional Stability of Visually Impaired Students Studying at Secondary Level in Inclusive Setup and Special Schools. – Journal of Education and Practice 7(22): 53-58.

Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Titz, W., Perry, R.P. (2002): Academic Emotions in Students’ Self-Regulated Learning and Achievement: A Program of Qualitative and Quantitative Research. – Educational Psychologist 37(2): 91-105.

Pekrun, R. (1992): The Impact of Emotions on Learning and Achievement: Towards a Theory of Cognitive/Motivational Mediators. – Applied Psychology: An International Review 41: 359-376.

Picciano, A.G. (2017): Theories and Frameworks for Online Education: Seeking an Integrated Model. – Online Learning 21(3): 166-190.

Purswell, K.E. (2019): Humanistic Learning Theory in Counselor Education. – Professional Counselor 9(4): 358-368.

Rafiola, R., Setyosari, P., Radjah, C., Ramli, M. (2020): The Effect of Learning Motivation, Self-Efficacy, and Blended Learning on Students’ Achievement in The Industrial Revolution 4.0. – International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (IJET) 15(8): 71-82.

Rogers, C.R. (1957): The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. – Journal of Consulting Psychology 21(2): 95-103.

Sardareh, S.A., MohdSaad, M.R. (2012): A Sociocultural Perspective on Assessment for Learning: The Case of a Malaysian Primary School ESL Context. – Social and Behavioral Sciences 66: 343-353.

Scarantino, A., de Sousa, R. (2018): Emotion. – In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University 35p.

Schunk, D.H., Meece, J.L., Pintrich, P.R. (2014): Motivation In Education: Theory, Research, and Applications. – 4th Edition, Pearson New International Edition, Pearson 464p.

Seligman, M., Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000): Positive Psychology: An Introduction. – The American Psychologist 55: 5-14.

Sharp, A. (2012): Humanistic Theory of Learning: Maslow. – In N. M. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning, Springer US, 4p.

Stangor, C., Walinga, J. (2014): Emotions and Motivations. – In Introduction to Psychology 1st Canadian Edition. BCcampus 681p.

Stehle, S.M., Peters-Burton, E.E. (2019): Developing student 21 st Century skills in selected exemplary inclusive STEM high schools. – International Journal of STEM education 6(1): 1-15.

Thompson, R.A. (2001): Infancy and Childhood: Emotional Development. – In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier 6p.

Thornton, L. (2016): How to Support Personal, Social and Emotional Development for The Under-Threes. – Optimus Education Official Portal. Retrieved from:


Tohidi, H., Jabbari, M.M. (2012): The Effects of Motivation in Education. – Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences 31: 820-824.

Turner, J.C., Meyer, D.K., Schweinle, A. (2003): The Importance of Emotion in Theories of Motivation: Empirical, Methodological, and Theoretical Considerations from A Goal Theory Perspective. – International Journal of Educational Research 39(4–5): 375-393.

Vinney, C. (2018): What is Self-Concept in Psychology? – ThoughtCo Official Portal. Retrieved from:


White, R.W. (1959): Motivation Reconsidered: The Concept of Competence. – Psychological Review 66(5): 297-333.

Woolfolk, A. (2019): Educational Psychology: Active learning edition. – Pearson 800p.




How to Cite

LEONG, D. C. P. (2022). EMOTIONAL STABILITY AND MOTIVATION OF 21ST CENTURY LEARNERS: A COMPARATIVE REVIEW OF LEARNING THEORIES. Quantum Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 3(6), 68–80. https://doi.org/10.55197/qjssh.v3i6.190