Observing Physical Education Teachers’ Need-Supportive Interactions in Classroom Settings

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Leen Haerens Ghent University

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Nathalie Aelterman Ghent University
Flemish Research Foundation

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Lynn Van den Berghe Ghent University

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Jotie De Meyer Ghent University

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Bart Soenens Ghent University

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Maarten Vansteenkiste Ghent University

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According to self-determination theory, teachers can motivate students by supporting their psychological needs for relatedness, competence, and autonomy. The present study complements extant research (most of which relied on self-report measures) by relying on observations of need-supportive teaching in the domain of physical education (PE), which allows for the identification of concrete, real-life examples of how teacher need support manifests in the classroom. Seventy-four different PE lessons were coded for 5-min intervals to assess the occurrence of 21 need-supportive teaching behaviors. Factor analyses provided evidence for four interpretable factors, namely, relatedness support, autonomy support, and two components of structure (structure before and during the activity). Reasonable evidence was obtained for convergence between observed and student perceived need support. Yet, the low interrater reliability for two of the four scales indicates that these scales need further improvement.

Leen Haerens, Lynn Van den Berghe, and Jotie De Meyer are with the Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Nathalie Aelterman is with Department of Movement and Sports Sciences and the Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, and with the Flemish Research Foundation, Ghent, Belgium. Bart Soenens and Maarten Vansteenkiste are with the Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

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