Student Motivation in High School Physical Education: A Latent Profile Analysis Approach

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 University of Western Australia
  • | 2 Monash University
  • | 3 Murdoch University
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Guided by the principles of self-determination theory, the purpose of this study was to identify latent profiles representing high school students’ motivational regulations for physical education (PE) and to model putative predictors and outcomes of profile membership. A sample of 532 Australian high school students, age 12–16 years (M = 13.83, SD = 1.13), reported their motivation for PE, perceptions of need satisfaction in PE, and effort expended in PE. Latent profile analysis revealed evidence of 3 distinct profiles that were consistent with continuum expectations outlined in self-determination theory (i.e., the moderately autonomous, moderately controlled, and highly autonomous profiles), alongside 2 profiles characterized by levels of introjected regulation that aligned with autonomous motives (i.e., the mixed motivation and amotivated profiles). Analyses also revealed that, on the whole, greater need satisfaction predicted membership of more autonomous profiles and that membership of such profiles was predictive of greater self-reported effort in PE. Analyses revealed evidence of qualitatively distinct motivation profiles that were differentially predicted by students’ psychological need satisfaction and predictive of in-class effort. This study is not only the first to use latent profile analysis to explore the role of psychological need satisfaction in predicting PE motivation profiles. It also provides practical information regarding the prevalence and potential outcomes of students’ motivation profiles.

Bechter, Dimmock, and Jackson are with the University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, Australia. Howard is with Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Whipp is with Murdoch University, Perth, WA, Australia.

Bechter ( is corresponding author.

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