Research Projects

Optimal motivation during physical education: Identifying and manipulating need-supportive teaching behaviors

Organisation: Ghent University, Department of Developmental, Personality, and Social Psychology and Department of Sport and Movement Sciences Ghent University

Researcher: Nathalie Aelterman
Supervisor: Prof. dr. Maarten Vansteenkiste
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Leen Haerens

Funding: Flemish Research Foundation - FWO Vlaanderen

Period: May 2010 – April 2014

Summary:
Adopting and maintaining a physically active lifestyle has numerous psychological and health benefits. Yet, physical activity levels of adolescents have seriously declined and adolescence is considered a critical period for the development of inactive lifestyle that may persist into adulthood. Therefore, there is a strong need for effective intervention strategies to promote physical activity among this age group. In the present project, we examine whether Physical Education (PE) teachers can promote adolescents’ physical activity through fostering optimal motivation. In a first phase, the focus is on the identification of critical need-supportive teaching behaviors relying on video images of authentic PE classes. Further, we examine how these teaching behaviors relate to students’ motivation, experienced need satisfaction, and course-related physical activity levels and engagement. From an intervention perspective the identification of need-supportive teaching behaviors that are critical to foster optimal motivation toward PE may provide some useful handles to investigate whether PE teachers can successfully be trained to incorporate a more need-supportive teaching style. The second phase of the project involves the development of an interactive workshop for and in collaboration with experienced secondary school PE teachers on how to create a need-supportive environment during PE class. Finally, we examine the effectiveness of this training on teachers’ instruction and students’ motivation and outcomes during PE class.

Relevant publications:
- Aelterman, N., Vansteenkiste, M., Van Keer, H., Van den Berghe, L., De Meyer, J., & Haerens, L. (2012). Students' objectively measured physical activity levels and engagement as a function of between-class and between-student differences in motivation toward physical education. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 34, 457-480.
- Aelterman, N., Vansteenkiste, M., Van Keer, H., De Meyer, J., Van den Berghe, L., & Haerens, L. (2013). Development and evaluation of a training on need-supportive teaching in physical education: Qualitative and quantitative findings. Teaching and Teacher Education, 29, 64-75. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2012.09.001


Antecedents of motivation, need-supportive and need-thwarting teaching behavior in physical education teachers

Organization: Ghent University, Department of Movement and Sport Sciences

Researcher: Lynn Van den Berghe
Supervisor: Prof. dr. Leen Haerens
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Greet Cardon

Period: 2009-2015

Summary:
Some PE teachers are very motivating, while other teachers leave a much worse impression with their students. Because motivation for physical education is crucial for a variety of optimal student outcomes, (see Van den Berghe et al, in press, for an overview), it is important to investigate why teachers differ in their teaching style.

In this research, underlying antecedents of motivating or need-supportive and demotivating or need-thwarting teaching behavior are identified. In this context, teachers’ well-being and experiences are examined and related to observed or reported teaching behavior during PE class.



 

Relevant publications:
- Van den Berghe, L., Vansteenkiste, M., Cardon, G., Kirk, D., & Haerens, L. (in press). Research on self-determination in physical education: Key findings and proposals for future research. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 1-25. doi: 10.1080/17408989.2012.732563
- Van den Berghe, L., Soenens, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Aelterman, N., Cardon, G., Tallir, I. B. (2013). Observed need-supportive and need-thwarting teaching behavior in physical education: Do teachers' motivational orientations matter? Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 14, 650-661. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2013.04.006
- Van den Berghe, L., Cardon, G., Aelterman, N., Tallir, I. B., Vansteenkiste, M., & Haerens, L. (2013). Emotional exhaustion and motivation in physical education teachers: A variable-centered and person-centered approach. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 32, 305-320.


“I hate PE!?” Conceptualizing a need thwarting context in relation to pupils’ motivation in secondary school education

Organizations: Ghent University, Department of Movement and Sport Sciences & University College Ghent

Researcher: Jotie De Meyer
Supervisor PWO-project: Lise Speleers
Supervisor: Prof. dr. Leen Haerens
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Maarten Vansteenkiste

Funding: PWO (University College Ghent)

Period: October 2011 – October 2014

Summary:
The bulk of research on students motivation has demonstrated that more need support will lead to need satisfaction and will cause optimal forms of motivation with positive outcomes. In this Phd thesis, the ‘dark side’ of motivation is investigated. When students’ needs are actively thwarted, they will feel frustrated in these needs and less optimal forms of motivation with negative outcomes will occur. The motivational dynamics involved in need thwarting teaching behavior in the context of physical education (PE) are examined. More specifically the focus of this research is on controlling teaching behavior namely how teachers actively thwart the need for autonomy (i.e. a teacher who is shouting, exerting power, criticizing students…).


Relevant publication:
- De Meyer, J., Tallir, I. B., Soenens, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Aelterman, N., Van den Berghe, L. (accepted for publication). Relation between observed controlling teaching behavior and students’ motivation in physical education. Journal of Educational Psychology.


References:
- Koka, A., & Hagger, M. S. (2010). Perceived teaching behaviors and self-determined motivation in physical education: A test of Self-Determination Theory. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 81, 74-86.

 

Motivation towards PE in vocational schools: The teacher as a motivational coach.

Organizations: Ghent University, Department of Movement and Sport Sciences & University College Ghent, Faculty of Education, Health and Social work

Researcher: Lise Speleers
Supervisor: Prof. dr. Leen Haerens
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Greet Cardon
Funding: PWO (University College Ghent)

Period: October 2011 – October 2014

Summary:
In this research project, we aim to develop knowledge about student-related and contextual determinants of motivation for physical education. Special attention is paid to the role of the teacher as a motivating coach. The study makes use of qualitative and quantitative research methods to identify the determinants of (de)motivation in students; to explore the relationship between motivation, physical activity and engagement; and to develop and evaluate an intervention training for teachers in vocational schools to incorporate a more need-supportive teaching style into their practice.


After-school sports as a vehicle to sports participation

Organization: Ghent University, Department of Movement and Sport Sciences

Researcher: An De Meester
Supervisor: Prof. dr. Leen Haerens
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Greet Cardon

Period: 4 years (2012-2016)

Funding: Policy Research Centre on Sports, supported by the Flemish Government

Summary:
Research shows that the total amount of youth not meeting the health-related recommendations of sixty minutes or more moderate to vigorous PA per day continues to rise. Therefore, the need arises to develop and implement promotion strategies for an active lifestyle and sports participation among children and adolescents. Within the school context, these promotion strategies are often implemented in Physical Education (PE) classes. However, PE hours in most school-curricula are limited and diverse learning objectives that are not exclusively related to increasing pupils’ PA-levels are to be achieved within this limited time. This implies a growing importance of extracurricular programs, like after-school sports, as an additional source of PA opportunities and promotion.

Within the current PhD-project, we want to examine if after-school sports reach those children who are not (yet) active in community sports. Furthermore, we want to investigate the characteristics of after-school sports programs, with special attention to the content and motivational guidance strategies of the sports leaders. Based on the findings of this study, a workshop for sports leaders will be developed and it will be investigated if participation in the workshop by the sports leader results in changes in the content and guidance practice of after-school sports.

Relevant publication:
- De Meester, A., Aelterman, N., Cardon, G., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., Haerens, L. (submitted). After-school sports as a motivating vehicle towards sport participation in youth: a cross-sectional study.


Assessment in Physical Education and its effect on students’ motivation

Organization: Ghent University, Department of Movement and Sport Sciences

Researcher: NN
Supervisor: Prof. dr. Leen Haerens
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Greet Cardon

Funding: Expertisenetwerk Associatie UGent

Period: October 2013 – October 2014

Summary:
Over the last years, instructional strategies have shifted from more teacher-led to student-centred approaches. The PE teacher ideally addresses motor as well as social goals during class. The changes induced by the school environment, the learning targets and the teaching methods affect the assessment of students during PE in various ways.

A first objective of this project is to make an inventory of the types of assessment used in PE classes and uncover the relationship between the used assessment and its influence on students’ motivations. A second goal is to develop a workshop about assessment that enhances the pedagogical skills of teachers in pre-service and in-service, and that support the development of the PE teacher.


Sports injury prevention in and through Physical Education teachers: feasibility, effectiveness and transferability to the adolescent sports active population

Organization: Ghent University, Department of Movement and Sport Sciences

Researcher: Sien Vercruysse
Supervisor: Prof. dr. Dirk De Clercq
Co-supervisor: Prof. dr. Leen Haerens

Funding: Policy Research Centre on Sports, supported by the Flemish Government

Period: 3 years (2013 – 2015)

Summary:
The amount of physically active tasks PE teachers have to deal with results in a high risk of injuries. To prevent these injuries in PE teachers, becoming more aware of the necessity of sports injury prevention is an important step. Additionally, the knowledge about the different strategies to prevent personal sports injuries could be upgraded and/or refreshed.

To improve the PE teachers’ awareness about this problem, motivation and knowledge about injury prevention and good interventions are needed in order to change their behavior. In this project, a pilot version of the intervention was developed and delivered to a group of 20 PE teachers. Next, the adapted version of the intervention (based on the feedback of the 20 PE teachers) will be given to a larger population. This allows us to find out if the intervention makes secondary school PE teachers effectuate the prevention strategies and/or if there is a reduction in injury incidence or prevalence due to this intervention.

So, the first goal of this project is to develop, optimize and trace the feasibility of an intervention of injury prevention in PE teachers. A second goal of this project is to develop, optimize and trace the feasibility of an intervention, given by PE teachers to students, to prevent injuries in students.