Development of basic psychological need satisfaction in physical education

Effects of a two-year PE programme


Research shows that sports-active students experience more basic need satisfaction (autonomy, competence, relatedness) in physical education (PE) than their non-sports-active peers, and thus, reap most of the benefits of PE. This study aimed to investigate the role of a two-year PE programme, referred to as Interest-based PE, in contributing to students’ basic need satisfaction in PE, and in particular, to assess potential basic needs-benefits among students who were not involved in leisure-time sport. Among 693 students, 348 were offered a choice of two different PE approaches (“explorative” vs. “sports” approach) for the next two years, while the remaining students continued to receive traditional PE. Girls, non-sports-active students, and students who experienced less need satisfaction in PE at baseline were more likely to choose the explorative approach, thereby signifying a wish for a less sports-centred PE. However, no significant differences in autonomy, competence, and relatedness need satisfaction were identified between Interest-based PE groups and their respective control groups over the course of the programme. Sports active students experienced more gains in relatedness need satisfaction than non-sports active students over the course of the programme, suggesting that challenges in promoting equal opportunities for learning in PE may require more than “Interest-based PE”.

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Author Biographies

Irina Burchard Erdvik, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

Irina Burchard Erdvik is employed at the Faculty for Social and Health Sciences at the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, and is a PhD candidate at the Department of Physical Education at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on experiences in physical education in relation to adolescent development.

Tommy Haugen, University of Agder

Tommy Haugen is associate professor at the Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences at the University of Agder. His research interests include group dynamics and psychological aspects in sports and physical education.

Andreas Ivarsson, Halmstad University

Andreas Ivarsson, PhD, works at the Center of Research on Welfare, Health and Sport at Halmstad University. His research interest includes psychological aspects related to sport injuries, motivational aspects related to sport and exercise participation, statistical and methodological issues within psychological research, and mindfulness.

Reidar Säfvenbom, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences

Reidar Säfvenbom is associate professor at the Department of Physical Education at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. His research interests are in the relevance of physical activity contexts in the everyday life of adolescents.

How to Cite
Erdvik, I. B., Haugen, T., Ivarsson, A., & Säfvenbom, R. (2019). Development of basic psychological need satisfaction in physical education. Journal for Research in Arts and Sports Education, 3(2).
Research Articles: Special issue
basic needs, self-determination theory, adolescents, organized sport