Children Theorize about Reasons for Recess Engagement: Does Expectancy-Value Theory Apply?

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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  • 2 University of Alberta
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Inclusion in activity at recess can have important implications for the health and for the physical, social, and cognitive development of children, according to play theorists (Pellegrini, 1995). This study examined whether children described their decisions (and those of fictitious others) to engage in recess activities in achievement terms consistent with expectancy-value theory (Eccles, Wigfield & Schiefele, 1998). Ten Grade 3 children with different patterns of recess engagement did confirm that attainment, interest, utility, and cost values were salient to decisions to participate. Children distinguished among value components, and confirmed that expectancies and values contributed to activity choices, providing support for the conceptualization of recess as an achievement setting in which expectancy-value theory applies.

The authors are with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Edmonton T6G 2H9 Canada. E-mail:

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