Factorial validity and internal consistency of the motivational climate in physical education scale.

Author:Soini, Markus
Position::Research article - Report


Motivation is recognized to be one of the most important factors related to engagement in physical activity during childhood and adolescence (Hagger and Chatzisarantis, 2007; Malina et al., 2004; Sallis et al., 2000). School physical education (PE) plays an important role in the socialization process to motivate students towards a physically active lifestyle because it has the potential to provide positive physical activity experiences to the whole student population (O'Sullivan, 2004). Furthermore, PE teachers have an important role in the development of motivation toward PA through creation and maintenance of the social and psychological climate perceived by students through teachers' use of different pedagogical and didactical methods.

Research on children's motivation toward physical activity has utilized two main theories namely the self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan, 1985) and the achievement goal theory (Nicholls, 1989) both representative of modern social-cognitive theories of motivation. The self-determination theory constitutes an important approach in studying human motivation, particularly in achievement and participation contexts (Standage et al., 2007; Vallerand, 2001).

The self-determination theory suggests that autonomy, competence, and relatedness are the key constructs of psychological well-being and optimal functioning. Environments which satisfy these three needs positively affect well-being. In contrast, environments that limit or restrict the attainment of these needs can negatively influence human functioning and well-being. All three needs are essential, and if anyone is unable to be met there is likely to be a detrimental motivational outcome (Deci and Ryan, 1985; 2000). Previous research has shown that the role of environment in satisfying these three psychological needs is important determinant of intrinsic motivation in PA context (Hagger and Chatzisarantis, 2007; Ntoumanis, 2012), and persistence in physical activity within school PE and leisure time (e.g., Digelidis et al., 2003; Jaakkola et al., 2013; Papaioannou et al., 2006; Yli-Piipari et al., 2009; 2012; Zhang et al., 2011).

Perceived autonomy is considered as the opportunity to affect one's own behavior. If an action is regulated externally or controlled by a person not directly involved in it, the interest toward the task can decrease (Deci and Ryan, 1985). Strong perception of autonomy in PE has been found to increase physical activity not only during the class, but also during leisure time (Hagger et al., 2003). Social relatedness is a natural need by human beings to belong to a group, be accepted and feel positive emotions while acting as a group member (Deci and Ryan, 2000). Social relatedness has been reported as demonstrating positive associations with perceived engagement in physical activity (Prochaska et al., 2002). Perceived competence is related to an individual's perceptions of their own abilities in interacting with the social environment (Deci and Ryan, 1985). Satisfaction with perceptions of competence leads to enhanced intrinsic motivation and consequently participation in physical activities (Deci and Ryan, 2000; Ntoumanis, 2005).

Another prevailing theory in the field of the study associated with the motivation characteristics that influence children and adolescents is the achievement goal theory (Nicholls, 1989). It also includes cognitive and social factors both affecting motivation. Goal orientations in the theory represent cognitive factors and two goal perspectives namely task (self-referenced) and ego (other-referenced), and are considered to be dominant in performance settings. These orientations refer to how success is perceived and competence evaluated (Nicholls, 1989), and relate to important differences in behavior. It is expected that when a student focuses on task-involving goals, a more adaptive motivational pattern should result, regardless of whether she or he has a high or low perception of competence (Nicholls, 1989). It is has also been proposed that children should not experience motivational problems when ego-involving goals are emphasized, as long as they are confident in their physical ability. Maladaptive motivational patterns result when a student has adopted ego-involving goals but have doubts about the adequacy of their competence to undertake the task at hand (Roberts, 2001). Previous findings indicate that task orientation is associated with intrinsic motivation (Standage et al., 2003), enjoyment and lower levels of boredom (Barkoukis et al., 2010), self-reported engagement in PA (Papaioannou et al., 2006; Zan et al. 2008), and objectively assessed PA levels (Jaakkola et al., 2008). Alternatively, several empirical findings examining relationships between ego orientation and PA related outcomes have been inconsistent (see review by Roberts et al., 2007).

Motivational climate is another key element in the achievement goal theory and it refers to a situational psychological perception of the activity that directs the goals of action (Ames, 1992). The motivational climate in school PE affects students' self-experience, motivation, and attitudes toward physical activity. The social situation created by significant others varies in terms of the achievement goals emphasized (Duda and Balaguer, 2007). From the achievement goal orientation approach, the motivational climate has two perspectives, namely a task-involving and an ego-involving climate. An ego-involving climate stresses performance outcomes and social comparison between students. This leads to increased external motivation and anxiety, as well as decreased interest (Duda and Whitehead, 1998). In a task-involving climate, students reflect their performance to their personal development, are rewarded for trying and effort, and set their personal goals themselves (Ames, 1992). A task-involving climate is created if the didactical solutions of the teacher support the development of the students' task orientation. Correlational and intervention based studies in PE have revealed that a task-involving climate is positively associated with task orientation (Bakirtzoglou and Ioannou, 2011; Moreno-Murcia et al., 2011), intrinsic motivation (Bryan and Solmon, 2012; Spittle and Byrne, 2009; Standage et al., 2007), and physical activity (Christodoulidis et al., 2001; Wallhead and Ntoumanis, 2004). An ego-involving motivational climate is found to be associated with ego orientation (Bakirtzoglou and Ioannou, 2011; Spittle and Byrne, 2009) and lowered intrinsic motivation (Ferrer-Caja and Weiss, 2000).

Previous studies have shown integration of achievement goal (Nicholls, 1989) and self-determination theories (Deci and Ryan, 1985) to be useful in understanding students' intra-individual motivation (Ciani et al., 2011; Ommundsen and Kvale, 2007). When exploring the theories of achievement goals and self-determination simultaneously, we notice that they include similar elements, both involving social and cognitive factors. The major difference between the two models is that the achievement goal theory operates only with perceived competence, which is divided into task- and ego-oriented approaches. Although the self-determination theory also involves the perception of competence it includes perceptions of autonomy and social relatedness as additional elements. Deci and Ryan (1985), however, did not divide the perception of competence into task and ego orientation, which are crucial elements of motivation in achievement settings, such as school PE (Nicholls, 1989; Roberts, 2001). For example, teaching process in PE s often evaluative in nature, and can be considered as an outcome-oriented activity, the goals being primarily defined in terms of success and failure.

However, the two theories consider competence from different perspectives. In the achievement goal theory, demonstration of competence constitutes on of the driving force of behavior (Nicholls, 1989), whereas in the self-determination theory, the need for competence influences subsequent beliefs, affects, and behavior (Deci and Ryan, 1985; 2000). The need for competence as an element of the self-determination theory has been found to positively affect both controlling and autonomous motivation (Hagger and Chatzisarantis, 2007). This could be representative of the differential effect that environmental cues (task vs ego climate) may have on the need for competence.

In order to analyze the motivational climate in PE, it is important to develop valid and reliable inventories. Physical education teachers, therefore, could benefit from scales to evaluate changes in motivational climate as result of their pedagogical actions. Although there has been advancements in the measurement of key achievement goal constructs in the PE domain, there is need for the refinement and further development of existing measures and creating new assessment tools (Duda and Balaguer, 2007). Motivational climate scales (e.g., LAPOPEQ; Papaioannou, 1994; PMCSQ; Seifriz et al., 1992; PMCSQ II; Walling et al., 1993) are typically based on the goal orientation model (Nicholls, 1989), according to which perception of competence as motivational factor is based on two independent criteria. The two other cornerstones of the self-determination theory, perceived autonomy and perceived social relatedness, are neglected or included in task and ego involving climate sub-dimensions (see Perceived Motivational Climate...

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