Psychological needs and the quality of student engagement in physical education: Teachers as key facilitators

Thomas Curran, Martyn Standage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (SciVal)


Motivation research is central to understanding why certain students exhibit high levels of behavioral, cognitive, and emotional engagement with learning, and why others lack interest, display boredom, and withdraw effort (i.e., are disaffected). In this review, tenets within self-determination theory (SDT) are used to provide a theoretically-informed account of student engagement and disaffection in the context of school physical education (PE). Our review centers on the proposition within SDT that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs (i.e., for autonomy, competence, and relatedness) provide the energizing basis for optimal motivational functioning and wellness. Teacher strategies and class structures are reviewed in the context of whether they satisfy or frustrate these psychological needs. To amalgamate the reviewed literature, a mediated model depicting a ‘student-teacher dialectical’ framework is presented. Several practitioner recommendations for supporting student engagement in PE are then offered. Lastly, findings of past interventions within the school context are presented and discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-276
JournalJournal of Teaching in Physical Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychological needs and the quality of student engagement in physical education: Teachers as key facilitators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this