Guided by the interest-based motivation theory, this study examined the extent to which personal interest and situational interest accounted for boys’ and girls’ learning outcome in a middle school physical education dance unit. Personal and situational interests, physical activity intensity, and skill/knowledge outcome were measured in a random student sample (N = 57). Girls demonstrated higher personal interest in dance than the boys, but both groups were equally motivated with situational interest. Although the girls were not as physically active as boys, their skill/knowledge outcome measures were higher than those of the boys. It appears that gender may have little impact on the motivational effect of situational interest and that girls’ in-class learning might have higher quality than that of boys as a result of higher personal interest. The findings indicate that situational interest may motivate all students, but it is necessary to enhance personal interest in order for them to engage in quality learning.
B. Shen, A. Chen, and H. Tolley are with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742; Kristin A. Scrabis is with the Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027-6902.