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An exploration of young children's motivational processes within physical education

Fitton Davies, K (2021) An exploration of young children's motivational processes within physical education. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Self-Determination Theory (SDT) distinguishes between different types of motivation based on the reasons for engaging in a particular behaviour. Engaging in Physical Education (PE) leads to many positive physical, social, cognitive, and affective outcomes. Children’s motivation within PE starts to decline from the age of eight years. However, it is unknown whether this decline in motivation occurs earlier due to a lack of motivation tools. Understanding younger children’s motivation for PE may give researchers crucial insights into how best to support their motivation. Therefore, an exploration was conducted, through three studies, of younger children’s basic psychological needs satisfaction (BPNS), self-determined motivation, and enjoyment for PE, as well as an investigation into motivational climates within PE. Study 1 developed a novel mixed-method tool, underpinned by SDT for five to six-year-old children. The tool’s novelty lies in its mixed-method approach, which contained interactive, age-appropriate activities, where previous motivation tools have either been quantitative or qualitative. To produce motivational profiles, a codebook was developed to mix the quantitative and qualitative strands of the transcript data produced by the tool. The tool demonstrated good content validity, and the codebook was judged to have good content validity, acceptability, and excellent reliability. Study 2 presented the motivational profiles of 5- to 6-year-old children captured by the tool in Study 1 and investigated whether BPNS and behavioural regulation were important for different forms of movement in this young age group. Movement is a key aspect of young children’s development; therefore, it was important to develop a tool which could assess the different aspects of young children’s motivation in order to investigate whether motivation is important for movement development. Five to six-year-old children (n=78) reported high enjoyment of PE, high relatedness and competence need satisfaction, and moderate autonomy need satisfaction. The children had moderate to high autonomous motivation, low to moderate controlled motivation, and very low amotivation. Autonomy need satisfaction negatively and significantly predicted motor proficiency and identified regulation positively and significantly predicted MVPA. Study 3 had three aims, to explore: 1) the extent to which each intervention group were empowering and disempowering (higher-order), 2) the potential differences between intervention groups in empowering and disempowering domains (lower-order), 3) the potential differences between intervention groups in autonomy, relatedness, and competence need satisfaction, as well as enjoyment. Each intervention group demonstrated highly empowering and low disempowering motivational climates (higher-order); however, the control and Linear groups (LP) were significantly more disempowering than the Nonlinear group (NLP). When looking at the motivational climate domains (lower-order), autonomy support was significantly higher in the NLP and structure was significantly higher in the LP. Children in the NLP and LP groups reported significantly higher autonomy need satisfaction and children in the control group reported significantly higher relatedness need satisfaction. These studies demonstrate that working with young children can offer essential insights into young children’s motivational perceptions for PE, which can help inform future intervention studies and teaching practice. These studies also demonstrate 12 that PE within this age group is mostly empowering; however, practitioners should be mindful of their pedagogical practices for long-term use. In combination, these studies offer important insights regarding policy, research, and practice within PE.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Physical Education; Motivation; Young children; Self-Determination Theory; Pedagogy; Motivational Climate
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2021 09:48
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2022 10:32
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00014409
Supervisors: Rudd, J, Foweather, L and Roberts, S
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14409
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