Student Motivation in Physical Education and Engagement in Physical Activity
Bryan, Charity Leigh, Solmon, Melinda A., Journal of Sport Behavior
The mediating processes paradigm provides a lens for understanding and interpreting how motivational constructs mediate teacher behaviors and student learning. This framework is a "response-oriented" approach that grew out of the unidirectional process-product paradigm of the 1960's (Doyle, p. 170, 1977). Mediating constructs, such as student interest, social background, prior knowledge and beliefs, and the classroom context have been explored in attempts to explain more of the "why," or in what context, learning occurs. Student learning characteristics and the instructional setting are the essential features of the mediating process paradigm.
The cognitive mediational paradigm provides a framework for the study of student attitudes and perceptions (Solmon, 2003). Students are recognized as active and controlling agents in the learning process. They enter with varying backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences that serve as filters through which they interpret instruction and make meaning of classroom experiences. Based on prior experiences, students form attitudes that are theorized to be powerful influences on decisions they make about engaging in activity. Perceptions and attitudes are important mediators between teacher actions and what students learn and do. Positive attitudes are associated with adaptive motivational behaviors and exerting effort. Negative attitudes are expected to result in a reluctance to engage in activities (Solmon, 2003).
Self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) provides a theoretical framework to study student motivation. Motivation is conceptualized as a continuum ranging from amotivation, or a lack of motivation to intrinsic motivation, defined as engaging in an activity as an end in itself. In between a motivation and intrinsic motivation, varying levels of extrinsic motivation reflect increasing levels of self-determination. When individuals take part only due to the threat of punishment or for a reward of some kind, they are at a level of external regulation (Standage, Treasure, Duda, & Prusak, 2003). Introjected regulation is characterized by recognizing some level of value in an activity, but feeling as though one "ought" to participate out of guilt or obligation. Identified regulation is the level at which participants see the outcome as beneficial and they begin to participate because they want to. Integrated regulation represents a level where the activity is part of the individual's identity and is relevant to higher goals, though it may still be somewhat extrinsically motivated (Biddle, 1999). Intrinsic motivation is the highest level of self-determination whereby an individual participates in an activity simply for the sake of the activity itself (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Unfortunately, much of the research in the area of motivation finds that participation in physical activity is often not intrinsically motivated (Ryan, Frederick, Lepes, Rubio, & Sheldon, 1997). Higher levels of self-determination and autonomy are more likely to elicit long-term motivated behavior.
Attitude is a factor that should be examined when investigating motivation levels because of its potential link to participation, or lack thereof, in physical activity. Attitudes are often based on experiences and events from childhood (Brustad, 1991) and attitude formation is largely shaped by the fundamental beliefs that an individual holds (Ajzen, 1988, 1993). Essentially, individuals' beliefs influence their attitudes toward certain things. Perceptions and attitudes are important mediators between teacher actions and what students learn and do (Solmon, 2003).
Used extensively throughout the literature, the term attitude is often banal and its definition, in psychometric terms, is often unclear. Frequently in attitude-related studies only one component of attitude is examined. However, this construct includes more than just one single aspect (Subramaniam & Silverman, 2000). Silverman and Subramaniam (1999) conducted a review of measurement issues on student attitudes in physical education and physical activity. They concluded that the research up to that time had yielded mixed results, and recommended additional research be conducted to recognize the ways in which student attitudes affect participation in physical activity. Parish and Treasure (2003) observed that young people's failure to meet current recommendations for moderate to vigorous physical activity may be partly related to lack of motivation. The investigation of the influence that attitude has on motivation has the potential to provide a clearer understanding of students' decisions about being physically active.
Perceived climate is an important variable in the investigation of motivation in the physical education class context. The seminal work related to motivational climate was conducted by Ames and her colleagues (Ames, 1992; Ames & Archer, 1988). A task or mastery-involved environment is one where students demonstrate their ability by mastering a task and comparisons are self-referenced. In this environment, students in physical education are more likely to be intrinsically motivated, believe that there are no gender disparities, and believe that success is the result of effort (Treasure, 1997). An ego-involved climate, on the other hand, Implies that children demonstrate their ability by having a superior performance over another individual (Nicholls, 1984). In this ego or performance-oriented climate, levels of boredom increase while intrinsic motivation decreases, students attempt to win or succeed through deception or cheating, and ability, not effort, is emphasized (Treasure, 1997). Regardless of the student perceptions of the climate, competence alone is not sufficient for engagement. Recognizing the value of the task is also necessary in that individuals must find significance in the activity and believe they can be competent before they will willfully engage (Wigfield & Eccles, 2002).
Student engagement is cultivated when perceptions of a learning climate are salient. Further, there is evidence that a task or mastery climate contributes to student learning (Biddle, 2001). In physical education, Parish and Treasure (2003) reported that physical activity levels were positively correlated with perceptions of a mastery-oriented climate. In addition, Ferrer-Caja and Weiss (2000) found that students who perceived that learning and participation were promoted in their physical education classes were more likely to engage in the activities, exert effort, and focus on learning the task or activity. A link between a mastery-oriented climate and levels of self-determination has also been established (Goudas & Biddle, 1994; Papaioannou, 1994; Parish & Treasure, 2003). Research (Parish & Treasure, 2003; Treasure & Roberts, 2001) demonstrates the necessity and importance of structuring mastery climates in physical education as a means of getting children in physical education to be as active as possible. Ntoumanis (2002), however, points out that physical education teachers are often unsuccessful in constructing adaptive motivational climates in their classes.
One goal of physical education is to promote physical activity and it is important to explore ways to accomplish that goal. The middle school years represent a critical period in the development of physical activity patterns that extend to adulthood. Participation in physical activity declines as …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Student Motivation in Physical Education and Engagement in Physical Activity. Contributors: Bryan, Charity Leigh - Author, Solmon, Melinda A. - Author. Journal title: Journal of Sport Behavior. Volume: 35. Issue: 3 Publication date: September 2012. Page number: 267+. © 1999 University of South Alabama. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.