Perceptions of learning environment and intrinsic motivation in physical education: Predictive relationships with achievement goals and perceived ability

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Timothy J. L. Chandler


Motivation, Physical education, Physical Education Learning Environment Scale, Achievement goals, Perceptions of ability

Subject Categories



Approaches to the study of teaching and learning in physical education have focused largely on identifying teaching processes that lead to learning outcomes in the psychomotor domain. It is only recently that researchers have begun to investigate the student initiated processes that may mediate the relationship between teaching and learning (Lee, 1991). These student processes might include perceptions of environment and levels of motivation.

Specifically, the present investigation examined the degree to which intrinsic motivation is predicted from perceptions of learning environment. Also of interest were relationships between perceptions of environment and other motivational variables such as achievement goals and self perceptions of ability. These motivational variables are considered to be important mediators of achievement behavior (Hall, 1990).

Following a pilot study using a sample of 50 middle school students, an initial questionnaire was subjected to exploratory data analyses. From these analyses, the Physical Education Learning Environment Scale was developed and administered to a larger sample of 622 students. In order to establish validity and reliability, further exploratory analyses were conducted on responses from 300 of these students. Hypotheses were tested using the responses of the remaining 322 students.

Results indicated that achievement goals and perceptions of ability are significant predictors of perceived learning environment which itself predicts levels of intrinsic motivation. These findings are discussed in terms of their implications for both teachers and researchers in physical education.


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