Furthering understanding of motivational processes in physical education and youth sport
Convenor: Dr Christopher Spray
Theme: Within the broad-ranging theme of ‘psychology of
participation in sports and exercise’, the focus of this symposium will centre
on young people’s motivation in sport and school physical education (PE), and
in particular, the roles played by key social agents. Motivation has proved a
popular area of empirical endeavour for a number of decades and this symposium
affords the opportunity to showcase current research efforts in a themed
Objectives: (1) To present on-going research programmes into
young people’s motivation in the physical domain. (2) To critique the
collective contribution, review the strength of evidence, and discuss future
challenges faced by motivation researchers.
Relevance of individual contributions: The five papers
illustrate the breadth of current work in this field. Targeted contexts include
PE (Barnes, Taylor, Warburton), youth sport (Smith), leisure-time physical
activity (Taylor, Warburton) and laboratory-based work (Healy). Investigators
draw on achievement goal and self-determination theory perspectives (Smith,
Taylor, Warburton) but, also in evidence, are social comparison theory (Barnes)
and the self-concordance model (Healy). In addition to possessing strong
theoretical underpinnings, the contributions display a number of design and
statistical approaches, namely cross-sectional, (Barnes, Taylor), longitudinal
(Warburton), observation (Smith), and experimental (Healy). Key outcomes
include leisure-time physical activity (Taylor, Warburton), physical
self-concept/self-esteem (Barnes, Warburton), congruence between objective and
perceived coaching behaviours (Smith), and goal adoption/self-regulation in
physical activity (Healy, Warburton).
Correlates of class and individual social comparisons in
Jemima S. Barnes, Christopher M. Spray, Loughborough
Objectives: Drawing from theory and research into social
comparison processes, the present study sought to determine the co-existence of
class and individual comparisons in school physical education (PE). The main
and interactive effects of these types of comparisons were examined in relation
to pupils’ physical self-concept (PSC), as well as self-reported behavioural
engagement and disaffection in class.
Design: A cross-sectional design was employed to examine
relationships among comparisons and outcomes in PE.
Methods: 545 children (264= males,
276=females, 5=undisclosed; Mage=13.89, SD=1.57 years) from two schools in
England completed measures of perceived relative standing in class (PRSC),
perceived relative standing to a chosen individual comparison target (PRSI),
engagement, disaffection and PSC.
Results: Hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that
higher PRSC predicted greater PSC and engagement but lower disaffection. In
addition, comparing downwards in terms of the comparison choice was associated
with enhanced engagement. Interactions showed that chosen individual targets
moderated the association between PRSC and engagement and disaffection. Specifically,
when PRSC was low, making an upward individual comparison diminished engagement
and enhanced disaffection. PRSI did not moderate relations when PRSC was high.
Conclusions: Demonstrating the need for researchers to
examine multiple frames of reference simultaneously, pupils engage in both
individual and class average comparisons in PE and these are associated with
reported levels of PSC, engagement and disaffection. Further research is
required to ascertain the interplay between group and individual comparisons
and their relations with important outcomes in PE.
Examining the relationship between the objective and
perceived coach created motivational climate in youth sport
Nathan Smith, Eleanor Quested, Paul Appleton, Joan Duda,
University of Birmingham
Objectives: Exclusive reliance on self-reported views of the
psychological environment created by sports coaches could be reduced by
developing objective measures of the climate. Past studies centred on objective
ratings have primarily pulled from achievement goal theory to assess coaches’
task- and ego-involving behaviours. This novel study integrated achievement
goal theory and self-determination theory to examine congruence between the
observed motivational climate, assessed via a new multi-dimensional objective
rating system, and coaches’ views of the motivational climate manifested on
Design: A field-based study was employed to collect video,
audio and questionnaire data.
Methods: 26 UK-based grassroots football coaches were
recruited. Coaches were filmed once during their normal training activities.
Content of video and audio recordings were coded according to whether the
environment was autonomy supportive and controlling, task and ego involving,
relatedness supporting and thwarting, and was marked by structure. Coaches’
perceptions of the climate they create for their players were tapped via a
multi-dimensional coach-created climate questionnaire.
Results: Preliminary results suggest the observation
instrument is a reliable measure of the motivational climate created by
grassroots football coaches (Weighted Kappa=0.72). Based on 26 assessments, the
observed profile of the coach-created climate in grassroots football is
provided and the degree of congruency between the observed and perceived
motivational climates presented.
Conclusions: Examining equivalence between observed and
perceived motivational climates provides information on whether coaches’
perceptions align with reality. This information could be used to inform interventions
which aim to increase coaches’ self-regulation of behaviour.
Comparison of school-based correlates of physical activity
in PE and leisure-time
Ian M. Taylor, Christopher M. Spray & Natalie Pearson,
Objectives: Using self-determination and achievement goal
theories, we compared the associations among the teacher-and peer-created
motivational environment, children’s motivation towards PE, and their physical
activity behaviour in PE and outside of school.
Design: A cross-sectional study design was adopted to
examine the relationships among the study variables.
Methods: 939 primary school
children (53 per cent male) took part in the study by completing a
multi-section questionnaire exploring the study variables. Multilevel modelling
was used to examine the data.
Results: Children’s intrinsic motivation (b=.14) and
introjected regulation (b=.08) towards PE positively predicted physical
activity in PE. In contrast, identified regulation towards PE positively
predicted (b=.16), whereas amotivation negatively predicted (b=–.09), out of
school physical activity. Of the environmental factors, the degree to which
children perceived their peers to focus on improvement positively predicted
(b=.08) physical activity in PE. On the other hand, the degree to which
children perceived their peers to focus on competition (b=.07) and their
teacher to provide autonomy support (b=.15) positively predicted out of school
Conclusions: Cross-sectional evidence is provided that PE
classes may offer a suitable arena for physical activity intervention.
Nonetheless, the environmental and motivational correlates of physical activity
in PE and leisure-time may differ.
Peer and teacher climates in physical education: A
Victoria E. Warburton, University of East Anglia
Objective: To examine the influence of peer and teacher
climates to changes in pupils’ motivation in physical education (PE).
Design: Longitudinal Design: The influence of perceptions of
teacher and peer climates in PE to changes in pupils’ achievement goal
adoption, leisure-time physical activity, self-esteem and attitudes towards
physical activity over a school year was determined.
Methods: 792 pupils from Years 7, 8
and 9 of a secondary school in the east of England completed a questionnaire assessing
perceptions of teacher and peer climates, approach-avoidance goal adoption,
self-esteem, attitudes towards physical activity and leisure-time physical
activity on three occasions towards the end of each school term.
Results: Data will be analysed using multilevel methods to
assess: (1) the amount of variance in the variables which can be attributed to
pupil or class effects; (2) the amount of change over the course of the school
year which can be attributed to pupil or class effects; and
(3) the change in the dependent variables which can be
accounted for by perceptions of teacher and peer climates when controlling for
prior levels of the dependent variables.
Conclusions: Implications for future research and for
physical education practice will be discussed.
Goal motivation and self-regulation for unattainable goals
Laura Healy, Nikos Ntoumanis & Joan Duda, University of
Birmingham; Constantine Sedikedes, University of Southampton
Objectives: Based on the self-concordance model, this
research investigated personal goal motives (autonomous or controlled) when
striving for unattainable goals. Autonomous motives were expected to result in
more adaptive behaviour, especially if the goal was perceived to be
unattainable earlier in the goal striving process.
Design: The study employed a laboratory-based within-subject
Methods: 85 athletes were recruited from
competitive team sports. In the main trial, participants were required to cover
an individual distance goal on a cycle ergometer in eight minutes. Manipulated
feedback made the goal seem unattainable. Participants could choose to persist,
cease the task, or reengage in an alternative goal. Personal goal motives were
measured pre-trial while the psychological ease of disengagement and
reengagement were measured post-trial. Following the trial, participants also
reported when they perceived the goal to be unattainable.
Results: Structural equation modelling showed that for all
participants autonomous motives negatively predicted ease of disengagement.
However, for those who perceived the goal to be unattainable before the fifth
minute, autonomous motives positively predicted ease of reengagement and the
pathway to disengagement became non-significant. The model remained unchanged
when controlling for gender, goal difficulty, goal efficacy and hours of
Conclusions: This study showed that autonomous motives may
lead to difficulty in disengaging from an unattainable goal, although if the
goal is perceived to be unattainable earlier in striving, individuals with
autonomous motives may be more able to reengage in an alternative goal.