How the Bright and Dark Side of Self-Determination Theory Relate to Students’ Life Skills Development Within Physical Education

Lorcan Cronin, David Marchant, Justine Allen, Claire Mulvenna, David Cullen, Gareth Williams, Paul Ellison

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Abstract

Introduction Physical education (PE) is acknowledged as a setting which can promote young peoples’ development of life skills (Goudas and Giannoudis, 2008). In line with the tenets of self-determination theory (Ryan and Deci, 2000), the present study examined the relationships between autonomy supportive and controlling teaching, students’ basic need satisfaction and frustration, and life skills development within PE. Methods This study used a cross-sectional research design and ensured a diverse sample by recruiting female (n = 189) and male (n = 217) students from five schools across England and Ireland. During the middle of the autumn school term, a sample of 406 PE students (Mean age = 13.71, SD = 1.23, age range = 12–17 years) completed measures of autonomy supportive and controlling teaching, basic needs satisfaction and frustration (autonomy, competence, & relatedness), and life skills development within PE (teamwork, goal setting, time management, emotional skills, interpersonal communication, social skills, leadership, and problem solving & decision making). Results Bivariate correlations were consistent with the propositions of self-determination theory. Specifically, teacher autonomy support was positively related to students’ basic need satisfaction and life skills development within PE. Conversely, a controlling teaching climate was positively related to students’ basic need frustration and not significantly related to students’ life skills development within PE. Mediational analysis revealed that satisfaction of students’ basic needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness mediated the relationships between teacher autonomy support and students’ perceived development of teamwork, goal setting and leadership skills. Both autonomy and relatedness need satisfaction also mediated the relationships between teacher autonomy support and students’ perceived development of social skills, problem solving & decision making, emotional skills, time management and interpersonal communication skills. Discussion Results suggested that the mechanisms of action in the relationships between teacher autonomy support and students’ life skills development within PE are the satisfaction of the needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Therefore, teachers seeking to foster the development of life skills through PE should endeavour to create an autonomy supportive climate that satisfies students’ three basic needs. References Goudas M., Giannoudis, G. (2008). Learn Instr, 18(6): 528-536. Ryan R, Deci EL. (2000). Am Psychol, 55(1): 68-78.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Mar 2018
EventAnnual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS) - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 4 Jul 20187 Jul 2018

Conference

ConferenceAnnual Congress of the European College of Sport Science (ECSS)
CountryIreland
CityDublin
Period4/07/187/07/18

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