Psychologically informed physical fitness practice in schools: A field experiment

Date
2018-11-01
Authors
Vazou, Spyridoula
Mischo, Amanda
Ladwig, Matthew
Ekkekakis, Panteleimon
Welk, Gregory
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Altmetrics
Authors
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Kinesiology
Organizational Unit
Journal Issue
Series
Abstract

Objectives

Physical education could play a role in attenuating the decline in physical activity during the childhood-to-adolescence transition and inspiring children to adopt a lifelong physical activity habit. While psychological theories (e.g., Self-Determination Theory, Achievement Goal Theory) offer pointers for desirable changes to practice norms, experimental tests of the effectiveness of theory-based interventions in school settings are lacking. In this study, we compared the effects of a "traditional" and a "novel" physical education lesson on affective valence, enjoyment, and perceived satisfaction of the psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Design

Within-subjects field experiment, with two counterbalanced conditions.

Method

The participants were 148 children (4-6th grade, 52% female). Both lessons consisted of practicing aerobic capacity (running), core (curl-ups), and upper-body (push-ups) strength and endurance. In the "traditional" lesson, practice procedures followed FITNESSGRAM™ test instructions. The "novel" lesson incorporated elements designed to address basic psychological needs (e.g., freedom to select preferred running path, positive interactions among peers) and other evidence-supported modifications (e.g., music and video).

Results

Affective valence declined in the "traditional" lesson but remained stable in the "novel" lesson. Enjoyment and need-satisfaction for competence were higher after the "novel" lesson. These differences occurred despite no significant differences in total accelerometer-assessed moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and the intensity of the aerobic components.

Conclusions

Easily implementable, theory-based modifications to physical education practices could improve the experiences derived by students. In turn, experiencing physical education as more pleasant, enjoyable, and need-supportive could raise the odds of long-term physical activity participation.

Description

This accepted article is published as Vazou,S., Mischo, A., Ladwig, M, Ekkekakis,P., Welk, G.; Psychologically informed physical fitness practice in schools: A field experiment. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Nov 2018, Doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.10.008. Posted with permission.

Keywords
School, Motivational climate, Peer interactions, Psychological needs, Pleasure, Hedonism
Citation
DOI
Collections