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  • Author: Melinda A. Solmon x
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Charity L. Bryan and Melinda A. Solmon

Recently, the lack of physical activity and increasing rates of childhood obesity have received a great deal of attention in the United States. One way to combat inactivity in children is to utilize physical education programs as a means to promote active lifestyles. There is not, however, a consensus concerning how physical education programs can achieve the goal of increasing children’s physical activity patterns. The purpose of this review is to examine motivational constructs that can provide a theoretical framework to identify strategies that can be used in physical education classes to promote engagement in physical activity. Self-determination theory is offered as a framework that has the potential to integrate these motivational constructs and provide a more complete understanding of how practitioners can structure learning environments to foster motivation and engagement in activity. Suggestions are made for implementing the research into practice, as well as future research directions.

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Melinda A. Solmon, Terry Worthy and Jo A. Carter

The interactive model views the teacher as a powerful socializing agent and establishes links between biographical characteristics and the demands of different contexts. This study describes the dynamic interaction of factors related to teacher role identity and school context. Specifically the goal was to employ case studies to examine the biographies of three first-year teachers to determine how individual perception of the teaching role impacts professional development during the first year of teaching. Using subject interviews, field notes, lesson plans, student performance data, and informal interviews with administrators and coworkers, a comparison was made between the cases to learn how the teaching perspectives of first-year teachers interact with school contexts. Results support the notion that the beginning teacher can be an active agent in controlling the direction of biography and social structures in the socialization process.

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Joan B. Landry and Melinda A. Solmon

Physical inactivity is a major health risk factor in our society, and older women and minority populations are especially at risk in this regard. Many earlier studies that have addressed physical inactivity, however, focused primarily on European-American males. Although recent research has begun to include more diverse populations, there continues to be a need for further study of specific at-risk populations. This study examined self-determination in the regulation of exercise behavior in a sample of 105 African American women. They completed the Stages of Exercise Scale and the Behavior Regulation Exercise Questionnaire. Consistent with theoretical predictions, individuals who had been active over a period of time were more self-determined in their behavior regulation. Exercising to achieve an outcome emerged as the most influential factor in discriminating active participants from inactive ones. This study supports the use of this theoretical approach in gaining an understanding of the types of motivation most likely to contribute to the initiation and maintenance of exercise behavior change in African American women.

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Weidong Li, Amelia M. Lee and Melinda A. Solmon

This study was designed to explore the relationships among individuals’ dispositional ability conceptions, intrinsic motivation, experience, perceived competence, persistence, and performance. Participants practiced a novel task, completed surveys before instruction and after practicing the task, and completed a skill test. The results indicated that participants with higher levels of entity ability conceptions were likely to exert less effort and be less intrinsically motivated during practice. Participants with more experience were likely to feel more competent before and after practice. Perceived competence, incremental ability conceptions, and performance were positive predictors of intrinsic motivation. The results suggest that providing students opportunities to experience a variety of activities and creating an environment in which students can feel competent, believe in the efficacy of effort, and experience success could foster intrinsic motivation to actively engage in activities.

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Zan Gao, Amelia M. Lee, Melinda A. Solmon and Tao Zhang

This study investigated the relationships and mean-level changes of middle school students’ motivation (expectancy-related beliefs, task values, self-efficacy, and outcome expectancy) toward physical education over time, and how gender affected students’ motivation. Participants (N = 206) completed questionnaires over a 1-year period: once in the sixth and seventh grades and again in the seventh and eighth grades. Results yielded that self-efficacy and task values were positive predictors of students’ intention across cohorts. The mean levels of self-efficacy decreased over time for students in Cohort 1 (across sixth and seventh grades). However, results revealed a consistent decline in the mean levels of other motivational variables for both cohorts. No gender differences emerged for the variables. The findings are discussed in regard to the implications for educational practice, and future research areas are presented.

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Alex C. Garn, David R. Ware and Melinda A. Solmon

High school physical education classes provide students with numerous opportunities for social interactions, but few studies have explored how social strivings impact class engagement. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships among 2 × 2 achievement goals, social motivation orientations, and effort in high school physical education classes using contemporary goal theory. A total of 105 ninth and tenth grade students reported their social motivation orientations, achievement goal orientations, and effort toward physical education. All four 2 × 2 achievement goals and three social motivation orientations had positive relationships with students’ self-reported effort in physical education. Further regression analysis revealed that mastery approach, performance avoidance, and social status goal orientations accounted for unique variance in explaining self-reported effort in high school physical education. Thus, students’ social strivings produce constructive outcomes in high school physical education and teachers who are able to promote healthy social climates can reap these benefits.

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Edward P. Hebert, Dennis Landin and Melinda A. Solmon

A major focus of research on teaching and learning for the past decade has been directed toward developing an understanding of student behaviors and thought processes related to achievement. Using a mediational-processes approach, researchers have identified engagement variables that predict skill learning gains, most notably the quality and quantity of practice and student self-perceptions of efficacy and competence. We sought to extend this correlational research by examining how one aspect of instruction, task progressions, influenced students’ practice quality and task-related cognition. University students enrolled in tennis classes were taught and practiced the serve under one of three conditions, two characterized by easy-to-difficult task sequences, and the third involving practice of the criterion task. Data were collected on students’ practice trials and three task-related cognitions: motivation, self-efficacy, and perception of success. The results indicated student practice and task-related thoughts varied according to entry skill level and the condition under which they practiced. Instructional conditions involving easy-to-difficult progressions resulted in more successful and appropriate practice trials and enhanced student self-efficacy and motivation. These findings parallel those previously reported on the impact of student ability on practice quality and add to an understanding of how instructional conditions affect what students think and do in physical education class contexts.

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Melinda A. Solmon, Terry Worthy, Amelia M. Lee and Jo A. Carter

This investigation examined the teaching perspectives of student teachers and described the interplay between their role identities and teaching contexts. Principal findings were (a) investigators were able to describe definable characteristics of teacher role identity and assess the relative strength of the role based on clarity of teacher image and level of confidence, (b) interaction patterns were observable and varied according to individual teacher and context, (c) subjects with stronger TRIs were able to negotiate for and closely approximate a real teaching role by implementing their own style, and (d) subjects with weaker TRIs relied heavily on their cooperating teachers by mimicking their teaching styles and routines. In conclusion, the findings of this study support the view of the prospective teacher as an active agent in controlling the direction of biography and social structure in the socialization process.

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Alex C. Garn, Birgitta L. Baker, Emily K. Beasley and Melinda A. Solmon

Background:

Traditional videogames contribute to sedentary behaviors; in contrast, exergaming is a relatively new concept that uses videogames to promote exercise during game play. Nintendo Wii Fit is a commercially popular exergaming platform geared toward improving fitness, however, limited empirical evidence related to the physical and mental benefits of the Wii Fit platform currently exist. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate possible physical and motivational benefits of Nintendo Wii Fit.

Methods:

A repeated measures design was used with 30 college-aged students to explore physical activity, enjoyment, and future intentions of physical activity associated with Wii Fit exergames.

Results:

Data supported the efficacy of Wii Fit Basic Run to consistently produce moderate to vigorous physical activity across participants. Future intentions were higher for exergaming compared with generic exercise and obese individuals enjoyed exergaming more than generic physical activity.

Conclusions:

The Basic Run Wii Fit game provided opportunities for accumulating moderate to vigorous physical activity that provided motivational benefits to these participants, especially those classified as obese. Future research should examine the ability of Wii Fit exergames to produce physical activity and motivation over time.

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Melinda A. Solmon, Amelia M. Lee, Donald Belcher, Louis Harrison Jr. and Lori Wells

Beliefs about gender appropriateness and conceptions of ability have been identified as powerful influences on beliefs about competence. The purpose of this study was to investigate the interaction of those two factors on competence beliefs in physical activity. Participants completed a survey about the sport of hockey, watched a video of a specific hockey skill, and then responded to questions about the skill. Males expressed more confidence in their ability to learn hockey than females, but females who perceived the activity to be gender neutral were more confident in their ability to learn hockey than females who believed the activity was predominantly for males. Participants’ explanations of their beliefs about gender appropriateness and confidence shed light on how competence beliefs are affected by perceptions of gender appropriateness and conceptions of ability.