We all remember those obligated physical education (PE) lessons in secondary school. Some will have experienced these lessons as fun, but the majority will agree with me that PE felt forced on us and therefore worked demotivated.
Ha et al. (2020) designed and studied an intervention applied during PE lessons that enhances students’ physical activity during these lessons. More importantly, this intervention causes an increase in the motivation toward PE that is internally based. This is only for girls the case, but in boys this motivation already is high. Internally based motivation, or autonomous motivation, means engaging in PE because it is fun or because personal outcomes can be achieved through PE like good health. PE than feels less like an obligation or something students have to do to pass the schoolyear.
The intervention designed by Ha et al. (2020), called SELF-FIT, is based on the self-determination theory (SDT). This theory states that motivation can be categorized into different types based on the perceived autonomy. Within autonomous motivation the individual feels a sense of ability in PE (competence), experiences a high level of autonomy and feels supported by the PE teacher (relatedness). These facets are thus encouraged in the intervention.
The intervention was implemented in 13 classes with secondary 2 (grade 8) students (Ha et al, 2020). Their data was compared with the data of 13 matching classes that continued with their regular PE lessons. Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during PE lessons, both before and after the intervention period. Additionally, the facets of the self-determination theory and well-being were measured using a self-reported questionnaire.
This said, there probably is an inexpensive solution to increase internal motivation in PE lessons. The SELF-FIT uses a fitness dice, music and support from PE teachers to make PE more fun.
HA, A. , LONSDALE, C. , LUBANS, D. & NG, J. (2020). Increasing Students’ Activity in Physical Education: Results of the Self-determined Exercise and Learning For FITness Trial. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 52 (3), 696-704. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002172.