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The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of perceived problem quality in the relationship between students’ (N = 226) achievement goals and autonomous motivation to study in a problem-based learning (PBL) environment. Specifically, the relationships between students’ achievement goals (mastery-approach, performance-approach, performance-avoidance, and mastery-avoidance goals), problem quality-related characteristics (triggering interest, familiarity, stimulating collaborative learning, resulting in intended learning objectives, and promoting critical reasoning) and autonomous motivation to study were investigated. The findings indicate that the perceived quality of problems (i.e., familiarity, resulting in intended learning objectives, promoting critical reasoning, and by that triggering interest) fosters autonomous motivation to study and that the perception of this quality is influenced by students’ achievement goals. Therefore, the quality of problems and students’ achievement goals should be taken into account in a PBL environment.
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