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Expectancy beliefs and task values are two essential motivators in physical education. This study was designed to identify the relation between the expectancy-value constructs (Eccles & Wigfield, 1995) and high school students’ physical activity behavior as associated with their energy balance knowledge. High school students (N = 195) in two healthful-living programs (i.e., combination of physical and health education) responded to measures of expectancy-value motivation, energy balance knowledge, in-class physical activity, and after-school physical activity. The structural equation modeling confirmed positive impact from expectancy beliefs and interest value to in-class physical activity (Path coefficient range from .19 to .26, ps < .01). Cost perception was found exerting a negative impact on after-school physical activity but a positive one on lower level of understanding of energy balance (Path coefficient range from -.33 to -.39, ps < .01). The findings painted a complex but meaningful picture about the motivational impact of expectancy-value constructs on physical activity and energy balance knowledge. School healthful-living programs should create motivational environments that strengthen students’ expectancy beliefs and interest value and alleviate their negative perceptions and experiences.
Senlin Chen is with the Kinesiology Dept., Iowa State University, Ames, IA. Ang Chen is with the Kinesiology Dept., University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC.