Cognitive-motivational engagement in ICT mediates the effect of ICT use on academic achievements: Evidence from 52 countries

Sandy C. Li*, Jinxin Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Despite huge investment of information and communication technology (ICT) in schools across the world, recent studies showed its non-positive association with academic achievement. While educators or policymakers may doubt the contribution of ICT in education, few studies examined the indirect effect of ICT use on academic achievement via ICT-related dispositions, such as students' perceived autonomy, competence, and interest in ICT (cognitive-motivational engagement in ICT). Guided by self-determination theory (SDT) and related literature, we hypothesized a three-level structural equation model to examine the interplay between ICT use, cognitive-motivational engagement in ICT, and academic achievement based on 15-year-old secondary students from 52 countries in the PISA 2018. The results showed cognitive-motivational engagement in ICT exerted a positive mediating effect between ICT use and academic achievement at the student and school levels, indicating ICT use exerted an indirect positive effect on academic achievement, and satisfaction of students' basic psychological needs in a specific area such as ICT is likely to promote their optimal functioning in other areas such as learning. Hence, students should be provided more opportunities to orchestrate technologies in formal and informal contexts helps develop their self-determination, discernment, and self-regulation in ICT use, and thereby creating the conditions in which better learning outcomes are more likely to occur. These findings also deepen our understanding of SDT and provide a guiding framework for educators to design pedagogies that can better address students’ ICT-related psychological needs. Finally, this study shows that a quadratic term should be modeled when examining the relationship between ICT use and academic achievement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104871
Number of pages53
JournalComputers and Education
Early online date17 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Education

User-Defined Keywords

  • PISA 2018
  • ICT use
  • Academic achievement
  • Cognitive-motivational engagement in ICT
  • Multilevel structural equation modelling


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