Physical Education



Children inherently love to move. Thus, sport and physical activity can provide intrinsically rewarding experiences that also provide many physical, psychological, and social benefits. Teaching a physical education lesson, however, presents unusual motivational challenges. In contrast to organized recreational sport participation and unstructured play, in which children (usually) can decide whether or not to participate, or at least which activity they want to do, physical education lessons are often mandatory. This requirement to attend physical education lessons can undermine students’ intrinsic interest. Also, in physical education lessons, students’ displays (and by extension, evaluations) of competence are typically public, whereas in academic lessons one’s performance is often relatively more covert.

For several decades, researchers have been using self-determination theory to understand students’ motivation processes in physical education. In recent years, this research has increasingly focused on methods that teachers can use to enhance student motivation. Randomized controlled trials of SDT-based interventions have shown that teachers can learn to better support students’ psychological needs during physical education lessons, and this support has multiple benefits for teachers and students.

Featured / Suggested

White, R. L.Bennie, A.Vasconcellos, D.Cinelli, R.Hilland, T.Owen, K. B. (2021) . , Self-determination theory in physical education: A systematic review of qualitative studies Teaching and Teacher Education, 99 ,103247

Vasconcellos, D.Parker, P.Hilland, T.Cinelli, R.Owen, K. B.Kapsal, N. (2020) . , Self-determination theory applied to physical education: A systematic review and meta-analysis Journal of Educational Psychology, 112, No. 7 ,1444-1469

Cheon, S. H., Reeve, J.Moon, I. S. (2012) . , Experimentally based, longitudinally designed, teacher-focused intervention to help physical education teachers be more autonomy supportive toward their students Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 34(3) ,365-396

Lonsdale, C.Lester, A.Owen, K. B.White, R. L.Peralta, L.Kirwan, M. (2019) . , An internet-supported school physical activity intervention in low socioeconomic status communities: Results from the Activity and Motivation in Physical Education (AMPED) cluster randomised controlled trial British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(6) ,341-347

Van de Berghe, L., Vansteenkiste, M.Cardon, G.Kirk, D., Haerens, L. (2014) . , Research on self-determination in physical education: Key findings and proposals for future research Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 1 ,97-121

Aelterman, N., Vansteenkiste, M.Van Keer, H.De Meyer, J.Van de Berghe, L., Haerens, L. (2013) . , Development and evaluation of a training on need-supportive teaching in Physical Education: Qualitative and quantitative findings Teaching and Teacher Education, 29 ,64-75