Academic journal article Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling

What Influences Motivation in Physical Education? A Multilevel Approach for Identifying Climate Determinants of Achievement Motivation

Academic journal article Psychological Test and Assessment Modeling

What Influences Motivation in Physical Education? A Multilevel Approach for Identifying Climate Determinants of Achievement Motivation

Article excerpt


A learning environment in a typical classroom is characterized by active interactions between learner and instructor or between learner and other learners. In contrast to distance learning environments and normal classrooms, Physical Education (PE) offers a whole range of opportunities for intensive social interactions that first need to be organized (Hascher, 2004; Telama & Polvi, 2007). Therefore, learning in PE classes is always about controlling these social interactions and entailed emotions. Awareness of interaction patterns in the classroom can help PE teachers to manage the classroom and reach the particular important curricular goal of enhancing motivation (Roberts, Treasure, & Conroy, 2007; Vallerand, 2007).

School climate as social learning environment is an important aspect of student experience and a particularly powerful predictor of motivational factors (Hamre & Pianta, 2010; Weigand & Burton, 2002; Wang, Haertel, & Walber, 1993). A comprehensive understanding of students' behavior on learning patterns has to include the structur and processes of classroom interactions. Furthermore, motivation is a strong determinant of achievement in the classroom (Anderman & Anderman, 2013). This makes PE a fascinating research field for achievement motivation (Heckhausen, 1971). Therefore, it is important to determine which environmental factors influence motives in school classes in general and in PE. In order to obtain findings about mechanisms the motivation of students in general as well as in PE classes needs to be promoted. Yet, climate in PE class has special characteristics: PE is characterized by content that is closely related to the real world and to the leisure time of children and youth. Moreover, PE classes are marked by the occurrence of intense emotional moments. These moments make PE an authentic and fascinating research field. Unfortunately, there are limited empirical findings on this topic in PE, whereas there is some good evidence on it in other subjects (Hamre & Pianta, 2010). Thus, this study describes the specific characteristics of PE and examines the effect of climate perception (Von Saldern & Littig, 1987) on the change of students' achievement motivation (Atkinson, 1957) for the first time.

Achievement motivation

There is a long history of motivational research grounded in achievement motive theory in Anglo-American studies (McClelland, Atkinson, Clark, & Lowell, 1953; Spence, 1989) as well as in the German speaking countries (Brunstein & Heckhausen, 2006). The construction of achievement motivation (AM) is based on Atkinson's (1957) expectancyvalue theory, which is frequently used in educational psychology research (Widgfield & Cambria, 2010). AM results from the emotional conflict between Hope of Success (HS) and Fear of Failure (FF, Weiner, 1994). Two motives and four situational variables are responsible for this conflict (Schneider & Schmalt, 2000). The first motive, HS, concerns the ability to be proud of achievements and supports students' goal orientation in performance situations. The second motive, FF, describes the attitude of feeling ashamed at having failed to achieve an objective and thus accelerates one's decision to leave the current operation (Atkinson, 1957, 1964). The entire directive is reinforced regardless of the actual success or failure (Heckhausen, 1977). Emotions and daily experience play an important role. Each personal variable (HS, FF) is linked to two situational variables, probability of success and incentive value (Atkinson, 1964), and results in two motive tendencies. These two tendencies are related to each other and predict a resultant motivational behavior. When the tendency to seek success is predominant the person is success motivated, and when the tendency toward FF is predominant the person is failure motivated (Atkinson, 1957, 1964).

Achievement motivation in school

Achievement motivation is considered to be one of the crucial determinants of students' achievement and academic success (Anderman & Anderman, 2013). …

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