18 SES 04, Motivating Students to Learn in Sport and Physical Education
A central tenet of Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000) is that students will thrive and learn more when their basic psychological needs for autonomy (i.e., experiencing a sense of volition and psychological freedom), competence (i.e., experiencing a sense of effectiveness), and relatedness (i.e., experiencing closeness and mutuality in interpersonal relationships) are fulfilled (Ryan & Deci, 2002; Vansteenkiste, Niemiec, & Soenens, 2010). SDT posits that stimulating learning environments will nurture these basic needs, thereby catalyzing a ‘bright’ pathway towards more optimal functioning. In contrast, learning environments that actively block or forestall these needs will elicit experiences of need frustration, which manifests as feelings of pressure and internal conflict (i.e., autonomy frustration), feelings of inferiority or failure (i.e., competence frustration), and feelings of loneliness and alienation (i.e., relatedness frustration). In turn, the frustration of these psychological needs activates a ‘dark’ pathway involving a shift towards suboptimal or even maladaptive motivational functioning (Ryan & Deci, 2000; Vansteenkiste & Ryan, 2013). In other words, when students experience their class activities as a daunting duty, when they feel inadequate or isolated, they will pay an emotional price. The immediate consequence of the experience of need frustration involves ill-being and the depletion of students’ energetic resources, which, in turn, engenders malfunctioning (e.g., reduced self-control; Ryan & Deci, 2000; Vansteenkiste & Ryan, 2013).
It is increasingly recognized teachers’ lack of autonomy support does not necessarily imply that they actively control and pressure the students (Bartholomew et al., 2011; Vansteenkiste & Ryan 2013). For controlling teaching to occur, a more active contextual interference and undermining role is required. To illustrate, when teachers do not explicitly provide choices and do not actively encourage students’ initiative (i.e., are low in autonomy-support), this does not automatically imply that they actively thwart students’ need for autonomy (e.g., using pressuring language and punishments). Consistent with such theorizing, autonomy-supportive and controlling teaching have been found to be modestly negatively interrelated (e.g. Haerens et al., 2015). This implies that at least some teachers may score simultaneously high on autonomy-supportive and controlling behaviors, or that some teachers’ style can also be described as being relatively more neutral in nature.
Because autonomy-supportive and controlling behaviors can co-occur in different doses, it becomes interesting to explore their effects and their co-variation as a function of the timing and taught content of the lesson. As an example of this person-centered approach, Matosic and Cox (2014) recently showed that athletes of coaches who were perceived to be predominantly autonomy-supportive displayed higher levels of need satisfaction and more adaptive motivational outcomes, when compared to athletes of coaches who were perceived to be mainly controlling. Interestingly, the results also revealed that moderate levels of perceived coach control were not necessary bad, at least when combined with high perceived autonomy support. The authors primarily included positive student outcomes in their study. Yet, given the discussed dark pathway associated with a controlling approach, it is crucial to also include maladaptive motivational outcomes (e.g., need frustration, resentment, oppositional defiance) to investigate whether such outcomes would especially become more salient if social agents such as teachers are perceived to be controlling. Moreover, given that the association between observed and student perceived autonomy-supportive and controlling behaviors is far from perfect and previous research has shown that teachers do not always report accurately about the way they teach (Mosston & Ashworth, 2002), the simultaneous use of both observations and self-reports allows to examine whether both yield an independent contribution in the prediction of outcomes.
Bartholomew, K. J., Ntoumanis, N., Ryan, R. M., & Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C. (2011b). Psychological need thwarting in the sport context: assessing the darker side of athletic experience. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 33(1), 75-102. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The "what" and "why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227-268. doi: 10.1207/s15327965pli1104_01 Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2002). Handbook of self-determination research. Rochester, New York: The University of Rochester Press. Haerens, L., Aelterman, N., Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B., & Van Petegem, S. (2015). Do perceived autonomy-supportive and controlling teaching relate to physical education students' motivational experiences through unique pathways? Distinguishing between the bright and dark side of motivation. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 16, 26-36. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.08.013 Matosic, D., & Cox, A. E. (2014). Athletes' motivation regulations and need satisfaction across combinations of perceived coaching behaviors. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26(3), 302-317. doi: 10.1080/10413200.2013.879963 Mosston, M., & Ashworth, S. (2002). Teaching physical education (5 ed.). San Fransisco: Benjamin Cummings. Vansteenkiste, M., Niemiec, C., & Soenens, B. (2010). The development of the five mini-theories of self-determination theory: An historical overview, emerging trends, and future directions. In T. C. Urdan & S. A. Karabenick (Eds.), Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Vol. 16: The decade ahead (pp. 105-166): UK: Emerald Publishing.Vansteenkiste, M., & Ryan, R. M. (2013). On psychological growth and vulnerability: Basic psychological need satisfaction and need frustration as a unifying principle. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 23, 263-280. doi: 10.1037/a0032359
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