A self‐determination approach to the understanding of motivation in physical education

Nikos Ntoumanis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

497 Citations (Scopus)


Background. It is widely acknowledged that Physical Education (PE) can play a potentially important role in enhancing public health by creating positive attitudes toward exercise and by promoting health-related fitness programmes. However, these initiatives will have limited success if students are not motivated to participate actively in their PE lessons. Aim. A sequence of motivational processes, proposed by Vallerand (1997), was tested in this study. The sequence has the form 'social factors→psychological mediators→types of motivation→consequences’. Sample. Participants were 424 British students aged 14-16 years from Northwest England. Method. Questionnaires were used to measure cooperative learning, self-referenced improvement, and choice of tasks (social factors), perceived competence, autonomy, and relatedness (psychological mediators), intrinsic motivation, identification, introjection, external regulation, and amotivation (types of motivation), and boredom, effort, and future intention to exercise (consequences). Results. A SEM analysis showed that perceived competence was the major psychological mediator. Intrinsic motivation was related to positive consequences, whereas external regulation and amotivation were predictors of negative consequences. A multisample analysis indicated that the model was largely invariant across gender. Conclusions. The findings underline the importance of perceived competence and intrinsic motivation in compulsory PE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-242
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2010


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