Autonomy support in physical education promotes autonomous motivation towards leisure-time physical activity: Evidence from a sample of Chinese college students

Kahar Abula, Jürgen Beckmann, Zhongkai He, Chengwa Cheong, Fuquan Lu, Peter Gröpel

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21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Based on the trans-contextual model, two studies aimed to test whether autonomy-supportive physical education (PE) promotes autonomous motivation towards leisure-time physical activity among Chinese college students. Study 1 was conducted in September 2015 and used a cross-sectional design. Participants were students who provided data on perceived autonomy support and motivation for physical activity. Regression analysis was used to analyze the data. Study 2 took place from September to December 2015 and employed an experimental design. Participants were PE teachers and their students. The teachers were randomized to either an intervention or a control group and those in the intervention group received a 3-month long autonomy-supportive intervention program. Their students provided data on motivation. The data were analyzed with repeated measurement analysis of variance. A total of 681 students aged 16-26 years participated in Study 1. Perceived autonomy support predicted autonomous motivation in PE (b ¼ 0.18, P ¼ 0.001), which in turn predicted autonomous motivation towards leisure-time physical activity (b ¼ 0.51, P ¼ 0.001). Ten PE teachers (28-53 years) and 258 students (16-26 years) participated in Study 2. Students who were educated by the intervention teachers had significantly stronger autonomous motivation towards leisure-time physical activity than students educated by the control teachers after the intervention, (F ¼ 12.41, P ¼ 0.001). The results suggest that PE may serve as an effective platform to promote an active lifestyle among Chinese college students when teachers provide students with an experience of autonomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E1-E10
JournalHealth Promotion International
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Autonomous motivation
  • Leisure-time physical activity
  • Motivational transfer
  • Physical education
  • Trans-contextual model

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