Background: The relationship between outcomes, such as student learning, student motivation, and continued participation in activity, remains an important research focus within physical education. In particular, research has shown that secondary students exhibit behaviors indicative of low levels of motivation. Thus, there is a need for teachers of high school physical education to provide students with motivationally supportive educational experiences. A model of instruction which has grown in popularity over the past few decades and seems to provide motivational support is the Sport Education Model (SEM). Previous studies have identified a variety of motivational benefits of the SEM, yet none to date have investigated the richness of student and teacher experiences using qualitative measures. Motivation within this study is grounded in self-determination theory which posits that the environment should be supportive of key psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness.
Purpose: In order to assess motivation among secondary students within physical education this paper offers a qualitative examination of student and teacher perceptions and experiences within two consecutive seasons of the SEM through the perspective of self-determination theory.
Participants and setting: A heterogeneous class of 24 high school physical education students (males ¼ 17; females ¼ 7) from the United States were engaged in two consecutive seasons of invasion games using the SEM.
Data collection: Data were collected utilizing a case study approach through qualitative measures of student and teacher interviews, as well as researcher field notes.
Data analysis: Data were analyzed using the constant-comparative method.
Results: The primary emergent themes of teacher and student experiences were identified as social support, winning as a team and influence on self-determination. Social support is further explained through two sub-categories of inclusion and fairplay/sports personship. In addition, it was evident that distinct aspects of the SEM(e.g. team affiliation and an affective game play rubric) were supportive of students’ psycho-social needs and self-determination.
Conclusions: Structural aspects of the SEM assisted in facilitating movement along the self-determined continuum through support for relatedness, competence and autonomy. Findings indicate that time is needed for students to internalize prescriptive features within an educational setting to enhance self-determined behaviors.