A1 Journal article (refereed)
Why Did They Leave School? A Self Determination Theory Perspective into Narratives of Finnish Early School Leavers (2021)

Pikkarainen, M. T., Hakala, J. T., & Kykyri, V.-L. (2021). Why Did They Leave School? A Self Determination Theory Perspective into Narratives of Finnish Early School Leavers. International Journal of Educational Psychology, 10(1), 48-72. https://doi.org/10.17583/ijep.2021.5988

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsPikkarainen, Merja Tellervo; Hakala, Juha T; Kykyri, Virpi-Liisa

Journal or seriesInternational Journal of Educational Psychology


Publication year2021

Publication date24/02/2021


Issue number1

Pages range48-72

PublisherHipatia Press

Publication countrySpain

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessOpen Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/74455


The present study aims to provide insights into the experiences of early school leavers within the Finnish context. We conducted a narrative inquiry among eleven early school leavers who were in prison when they were interviewed. Self Determination Theory (SDT), more specifically the concept of frustration of the three basic psychological needs of competence, relatedness and autonomy, and the tendency of people to move towards more supporting environments, was used as an interpretative tool, along with contextual information. We identified three pathways out of school, differing in the locus of need thwarting circumstances and the availability of access to transfer into a more satisfying environment. Furthermore, the experienced threat of safety was a shared element in the narrative accounts. Additionally, the findings add information about experienced indifference in the case of the participants, which is a new element in theorising the continuum of perceived need satisfaction within the terms of SDT.

Keywordsschool attendancestoppagedropping outchildren (age groups)young peopleschool drop-outssocial exclusionexperiences (knowledge)psychological factorsautonomy (cognition)safety and securityfrustation

Free keywordsearly school-leaving; Self Determination Theory; need frustration; safety; indifference.

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2021

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-22-04 at 21:22