Background: Both education policies and curriculum documents identify the personal development of students as a key objective of modern education. Physical education in particular has been cited as a subject that can promote students’ life skills development and psychological well-being. However, little research has investigated the processes by which physical education may be related to students’ development of life skills and their psychological well-being. Purpose: Using Benson and Saito’s (2001) framework for youth development theory and research, this study explored the relationships between the teaching climate, students’ perceived life skills development within physical education, and their psychological well-being. Participants and setting: Participants were 294 British physical education students (Mage = 13.70, range = 11–18 years) attending six secondary schools in Scotland and England. On average, these male (n = 204) and female (n = 90) students took part in physical education classes for 2.35 hours per week. Data collection: The data were collected via a survey which assessed perceived teacher autonomy support, participants’ perceived life skills development within physical education (teamwork, goal setting, time management, emotional skills, interpersonal communication, social skills, leadership, and problem solving and decision making), and their psychological well-being (self-esteem, positive affect, and satisfaction with life). Data analyses: The preliminary analysis used descriptive statistics to assess how participants scored on each of the study variables and correlations to assess the relationships between all variables. The main analysis sought to test Benson and Saito’s (2001) framework using a series of mediation models which were tested via non-parametric bootstrapping analysis. Findings: This study demonstrated that students perceived they were developing the following life skills through physical education: teamwork, goal setting, time management, emotional skills, interpersonal communication, social skills, leadership, and problem solving and decision making. Overall, the results supported Benson and Saito’s (2001) framework for youth development theory and research. In all analyses, perceived teacher autonomy support was positively related to participants’ perceived life skills development within physical education and their psychological well-being. Participants’ total life skills development was related to all three psychological well-being indicators – providing support for the ‘pile-up’ effect (Benson 2006). Total life skills development also mediated the relationships between perceived teacher autonomy support and participants’ psychological well-being. Conclusion: The findings suggest that perceived teacher autonomy support, along with total life skills development, are related to participants’ psychological well-being. Interpretation of the results suggest that physical education teachers should integrate autonomy supportive behaviors into their teaching (e.g., provide choice in activities and encourage students to ask questions) as they are associated with young people’s development of multiple life skills and their psychological well-being.
- positive youth development
- personal and social development
- developmental assets
- psychosocial assets
- transferrable skills.
Cronin, L., Allen, J., Mulvenna, C., & Russell, P. (2017). An Investigation of the Relationships Between the Teaching Climate, Students’ Perceived Life Skills Development and Well-Being Within Physical Education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 23(2), 181-196. https://doi.org/10.1080/17408989.2017.1371684