Motivation in Physical Education

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Motivation in Physical Education
Problem Statement
The health benefits of physical activity are well documented to date. Researchers also are fairly confident as to how often, how much, how long, and what types of activity one must engage in for health enhancing results. Therefore, the reasons to become or to stay physically active are inescapable, and the opportunities to practice health enhancing behaviors are innumerable. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that adolescents do 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily. However, recognizing the importance of physical activity, Healthy People 2010 recently reported that only 65% of adolescents in grades 9-12 engage in the recommended levels of physical activity (Parish & Treasure, 2003) each week. This undesirable percentage has implications for the physical education (PE) classroom as well. Although adolescents are more active than adults, participation in physical activity declines with age throughout adolescence (Pate, Long, & Heath, 1994). Transitioning from elementary to secondary school and from middle to high school can be difficult developmentally for children. These transitional periods are likely to impact on their experiences, motivation and achievement in all school subjects, including PE (Warburton & Spray, 2008). Many factors may play a role in inadequate levels of physical activity, but a majority of research seems to focus on the area of intrinsic motivation. Much academic training, as well as pre-service teacher training, focuses on history, skill acquisition, measurement and evaluation, and philosophy of sport, while neglecting the role motivation plays in student learning and participation. At the lower grades (6-8) of the secondary level, many PE teachers have merely minored in physical education as a discipline, or are not even PE certified, and may be ill-equipped to deal with this problem. The methods PE teachers use to organize lessons, acknowledge students feelings, and provide quality feedback are behaviors with crucial motivational implications (Koka & Haggar, 2010). The issue needed to be addressed is that students in secondary physical education are not taught in an environment which leads to optimal motivation. A large determinant of how a student is motivated is the expectations of the teacher. Specifically, studies have suggested that the way a teacher structures the meaning of achievement in the physical education context may affect how students think, feel, and act (Parish & Treasure, 2003).

Importance of Problem
Sport may not be the best means of achieving genuinely educational objectives for adolescents, and what needs to be examined is not sport in itself, but the success structure that stresses the involvement of the ego in the middle school years (Cechinni, Gonzalez, Carmona, Arruza, Escarti, & Balague, 2001). In other words, the motivational climate the instructor sets surrounding an activity must be studied along with the effect it has on a student’s self-confidence and anxiety. Also, much of the interest in student motivation has been fueled by a concern that pupils’ experiences of PE may not be positive, an awareness of increasing sedentary behaviors among youth coupled with rising juvenile obesity and a recognition of the importance of the PE context in reaching all young children and adolescents in laying a foundation for active, healthy lifestyles beyond school (Warburton & Spray 2008). Furthermore, physical activity engagement during childhood has been purported to be associated with physical activity levels in adulthood (Malina, 1996), highlighting the importance of valuing health enhancing behaviors as a youth, and it’s implications for an enhanced quality of life as one grows older.

Background of the Problem
The study of intrinsic motivation by social and educational psychologists has been around for about forty years; however, the...
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