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  • Author: Lynn Van den Berghe x
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Nathalie Aelterman, Maarten Vansteenkiste, Hilde Van Keer, Lynn Van den Berghe, Jotie De Meyer and Leen Haerens

Despite evidence for the utility of self-determination theory in physical education, few studies used objective indicators of physical activity and mapped out between-class, relative to between-student, differences in physical activity. This study investigated whether moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and rated collective engagement in physical education were associated with autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and amotivation at the between-class and between-student levels. Participants were 739 pupils (46.3% boys, M age = 14.36 ± 1.94) from 46 secondary school classes in Flanders (Belgium). Multilevel analyses indicated that 37% and 63% of the variance in MVPA was explained by between-student and between-class differences, respectively. Students’ personal autonomous motivation related positively to MVPA. Average autonomous class motivation was positively related to between-class variation in MVPA and collective engagement. Average controlled class motivation and average class amotivation were negatively associated with collective engagement. The findings are discussed in light of self-determination theory’s emphasis on quality of motivation.

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Lynn Van den Berghe, Isabel B. Tallir, Greet Cardon, Nathalie Aelterman and Leen Haerens

Starting from self-determination theory, we explored whether student engagement/disengagement relates to teachers’ need support and whether this relationship is moderated by teachers’ causality orientations. A sample of 2004 students situated in 127 classes taught by 33 physical education teachers participated in the study. Both teachers and students reported on students’ (dis)engagement, allowing investigation of the proposed relationships both at the student and teacher level. Most of the variance in need support was at the student level, but there was also between-teacher and between-class variance in need support. Engagement related to more need support, but only at the student level. In total, few moderation effects were found. Teachers with a relatively low controlled orientation were more need supportive when perceiving their students as emotionally and behaviorally engaged. By making teachers aware of these dynamics, automatic responses to student engagement can be better thought out. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

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Leen Haerens, Nathalie Aelterman, Lynn Van den Berghe, Jotie De Meyer, Bart Soenens and Maarten Vansteenkiste

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.

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Nathalie Aelterman, Maarten Vansteenkiste, Lynn Van den Berghe, Jotie De Meyer and Leen Haerens

The present intervention study examined whether physical education (PE) teachers can learn to make use of autonomy-supportive and structuring teaching strategies. In a sample of 39 teachers (31 men, M = 38.51 ± 10.44 years) and 669 students (424 boys, M = 14.58 ± 1.92 years), we investigated whether a professional development training grounded in self-determination theory led to changes in (a) teachers’ beliefs about the effectiveness and feasibility of autonomy-supportive and structuring strategies and (b) teachers’ in-class reliance on these strategies, as rated by teachers, external observers, and students. The intervention led to positive changes in teachers’ beliefs regarding both autonomy support and structure. As for teachers’ actual teaching behavior, the intervention was successful in increasing autonomy support according to students and external observers, while resulting in positive changes in teacher-reported structure. Implications for professional development and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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Lynn Van den Berghe, Greet Cardon, Nathalie Aelterman, Isabel Barbara Tallir, Maarten Vansteenkiste and Leen Haerens

Burnout in teachers is related to different maladaptive outcomes. This study aimed at exploring the relationship between emotional exhaustion and motivation to teach in 93 physical education teachers. Results showed that teachers report more emotional exhaustion when they are less autonomously motivated, while the opposite relationship was found for controlled motivation. Next, four motivational profiles were identified by means of cluster analyses: (a) a relative controlled group, (b) a relative lowly motivated group, (c) a relative autonomous group, and (d) a relative highly motivated group. The controlled group reported most emotional exhaustion, whereas the relative autonomous and highly motivated group had the lowest scores on emotional exhaustion. The results indicate that being autonomously motivated may function as a “buffer” against the development of emotional exhaustion. This implicates that it is important for politicians, directors, teachers, and teacher educators to consider teachers’ type of motivation to teach to prevent emotional exhaustion.