The purpose of this study was to provide an in-depth account of amotivation in compulsory school physical education by examining its major causes, the way it is displayed, and how it can be tackled. From an initial participant pool of 390 British schoolchildren ages 14 to 15 years, 21 of them (15 girls and 6 boys) were selected to participate in semi-structured interviews. They were categorized as being amotivated based on their responses to a questionnaire measuring motivation in physical education. Three main perceived causes of amotivation were identified in the interviews: learned helplessness beliefs, low need satisfaction, and contextual factors. Amotivation was mainly displayed by nonattendance, low involvement in the class, and low intention to be physically active after leaving school. Students’ suggestions for reducing amotivation focused on the enhancement of positive affect, need satisfaction, and structural/organizational changes. The findings are discussed in conjunction with contemporary motivation theories and models of amotivation.
At the time of this study, all authors were with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, U.K. A-M. Pensgaard is now with the Norwegian University of Sport Science, Ullevaal Station, No-0806 Oslo, Norway.