Perceived Teaching Behaviors and Self-Determined Motivation in Physical Education: A Test of Self-Determination Theory

By Koka, Andre; Hagger, Martin S. | Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, March 2010 | Go to article overview

Perceived Teaching Behaviors and Self-Determined Motivation in Physical Education: A Test of Self-Determination Theory


Koka, Andre, Hagger, Martin S., Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport


In the present study, we tested the effects of specific dimensions of perceived teaching behaviors on students' self-determined motivation in physical education. In accordance with the tenets of self- determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000), we expected the psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness would mediate these effects. Secondary school students (N = 498) ages 12-17 years completed measures of perceived teaching behaviors for seven dimensions: (a) democratic behavior, (b) autocratic behavior, (c) teaching and instruction, (d) situation consideration, (e) positive general feedback, (f) positive nonverbal feedback, and (h) negative nonverbal feedback. They also completed measures of perceived satisfaction for competence, autonomy, relatedness, and self-determined motivation. A path- analytic model revealed a positive, indirect effect of perceived positive general feedback on self-determined motivation. The effects of perceived autocratic behavior and negative nonverbal feedback were direct and negative, whereas the effects of teaching and instruction and situation consideration were direct and positive. Results suggest that feedback, situation consideration, and teaching and instruction are essential antecedents to self-determined motivation.

Key words: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, path analysis, psychological needs, significant other

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School physical education (PE) has been recognized as one of the most important contexts for developing physical activity habits in youth (Sallis & McKenzie, 1991). Despite holding such promise, interest and participation in PE as well as physical activity levels have declined with age (Biddle, 1995). Research based on motivation theories has focused on factors in the PE environment that engender children's motivation to participate in physical activity (Hagger & Chatzisarantis, 2007, 2008; Reeve & Jang, 2006), Much of this research focused on teachers' interpersonal behaviors in PE lessons. The way PE teachers organize lessons, include students in decision making, provide students with options, acknowledge students' feelings, and provide quality feedback are behaviors with crucial motivational implications (see Hagger & Chatzisarantis, 2007; Hein & Koka, 2007; Standage, Gillison, & Treasure, 2007). Nevertheless, little research has examined the process by which perceptions of specific teaching behaviors influence students' motivation in PE. Thus, in this study we used self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000) as a framework to examine the relationships between various perceived teaching behavior dimensions, such as democratic versus autocratic behaviors, teaching and instruction, situation consideration, verbal and nonverbal feedback, and students' self-determined motivation in PE.

Central Tenets of SDT

SDT assumes that individuals strive to satisfy the basic psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness, which determine the quality of engagement in a given domain (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2000). The desire to interact effectively with the environment and experience success and control over outcomes is characteristic of the need for competence. A need for autonomy reflects an individual's free will to engage in activities and be the agent of his or her actions. Finally, a need for relatedness implies that individuals have a desire to feel connected to others when engaging in actvities. These needs determine the quality of motivation people will experience when pursuing behaviors across different contexts.

SDT also distinguishes between different motives individuals have for participating in an activity (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Vallerand, 2007). These motives can be classified along a continuum between autonomous and controlling forms of motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). The most autonomous form is intrinsic motivation, at one extreme of the continuum. …

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