High School Females' Emotions, Self-Efficacy, and Attributions during Soccer and Fitness Testing in Physical Education

By Lodewyk, Ken R.; Muir, Amber | Physical Educator, April 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

High School Females' Emotions, Self-Efficacy, and Attributions during Soccer and Fitness Testing in Physical Education


Lodewyk, Ken R., Muir, Amber, Physical Educator


School-age females tend to be less active, have lower and declining rates of enrollment in optional physical education (PE), and often develop more negative affiliations to PE in early adolescence compared to school-age males (Dishman et al., 2005; Lenskyj & Van Daalen, 2006; O'Brien, Martin Ginis, & Kirk, 2008). This concerns educators and health care professionals because students' attitudes toward PE relate to their overall physical activity and healthy lifestyle behaviors (S. Duncan, 1993; Hairul, Grove, & Whipp, 2008; Smith & St. Pierre, 2009). Based on the social-cognitive perspective used in this study (Bandura, 1986), these trends and affiliations are due to the dynamic interaction of environmental factors, personal characteristics, and behavior as part of a person's ongoing initiatives to regulate and control learning to attain personal goals. Learners' beliefs and emotions are among the numerous influences on students' attitudes, engagement, and achievement in movement settings such as PE, and these fluctuate according to contextual factors such as instructional content (S. Duncan, 1993; Barr-Anderson et al., 2008). In other words, units such as games and fitness testing taught in PE provide students with different environments, tasks, and learning situations that influence their motivation, emotions, and subsequent achievement (Bandura, 1986; Smith & St. Pierre, 2009). For example, research has shown that adolescent females' emotional, social, and cognitive needs are often compromised in PE programs that emphasize competitive sport, skill-based learning, and fitness testing wherein performance tends to be prominent and salient to others (Smith & St. Pierre, 2009; O'Brien et al., 2008). More insight is needed into relations among various combinations of beliefs and emotions and how they fluctuate and differ across specific content in PE (Lirgg, 2006). Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate quantitatively and qualitatively unit-specific (soccer and fitness testing) differences in high school female PE students' emotions (state anxiety, enjoyment, and social physique anxiety) and beliefs (attributions and self-efficacy) and how each predicts students' unit performance ratings.

Games and Fitness Testing

Territorial games-including soccer as the most played sport globally-are the most commonly taught content in most high school PE programs (Baron & Downey, 2007). The understanding, development, and assessment of health-related fitness for regular personal physical activity across the life span is also a core element of most high school PE curricula (Harris, 2005). Researchers have reported varied students' experiences, beliefs, and emotions in fitness testing and in territorial games such as soccer. For example, Silverman, Deng Keating, and Phillips (2008) reported that appropriate fitness instruction and experiences can increase the rate of physical activity among sedentary youth including those not involved in competitive sport. Meanwhile, when learning games in PE, students enjoy the playful participation, healthy competition, and autonomous pursuit of successful personal development, motor skills, tactics, and teamwork, and they report elevated levels of perceived competence and less emotional and behavioral disturbances (Donaldson & Ronan, 2006; Lirgg, 2006). On the other hand, students also experience less enjoyment (Smith & St. Pierre, 2009), counterproductive attributions (Baron & Downey, 2007), and negative feelings of embarrassment, boredom, and shame during the learning of games in PE (Pringle, 2010), particularly when they are taught with an overemphasis on external rewards (i.e., winning), evaluations, and public performances (Ridgers, Fazey, & Fairclough, 2007). Female students appear to be more drawn to cooperative and novel individual activities such as dance and aerobics (Hairul et al., 2008; Lenskyj & Van Daalen, 2006).

Although controversial (e. …

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