There is some evidence to suggest that students’ motivation to participate in physical education and sport programs actually declines over the school years, and this decline is greater for adolescents than for younger school-aged children (Jacobs, Lanza, Osgood, Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Decreased participation in daily physical education leads to insufficient physical activity levels among this age group. This can result in dramatic increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among adolescents. Consequently, an important goal of physical education is to develop habitual physical activity behaviours to maintain health. It is believed that, after having participated in physical education, students will be able to motivate themselves to engage in physical activities on their own. This motivated behaviour is characterized by voluntary choices, persistent effort and measurable achievement. Considering this goal for physical education, examining students’ motivation and intention to be physically active have become an important research concern. The expectancy-value model (Eccles, Wigfield & Schiefele, 1998) and achievement goal theory (Elliot & McGregor, 2001) served as the theoretical frameworks for this study. A series of studies guided by these two frameworks have been conducted to help teachers gain knowledge of what motivates students to participate in physical activities and achieve their goals (Gao, Lee, Solmon & Zhang, 2009; Xiang, Liu, McBride & Bruene, 2011). In the present study, we examined the effects of students’ achievement goals and expectancy-values on students’ intention to be physically active. More precisely, the purpose of this study was to investigate to what extent achievement goals, expectancy beliefs and task values predicted students’ intention to be physically active.
The participants were 282 secondary school students (Mage = 14.93, 11-21 years, SD = 1.97) taken from secondary schools located in the French part of Belgium. They responded to three validated French scales measuring their achievement goals (12 items), expectancy-values (19 items) and intention to be physically active (4 items) at the end of their regular physical education lessons. The relationships between the variables were examined using correlations and regression analyses.
The results revealed that the intention to be physically active was highly correlated with many variables, including mastery-approach (r = .56, p < .01), expectancy beliefs (r = .56, p < .01), intrinsic interest value (r = .50, p < .01), attainment value (r = .46, p < .01) and utility value (r = .45, p < .01). Furthermore, a multiple regression analysis showed that expectancy beliefs (β = .33, p < .01), mastery-approach (β = .26, p < .01) and utility value (β = .16, p < .01) were positive predictors of students’ intention to be physically active, accounting for 43.5% of its variance.
These results are congruent with previous studies which have investigated the relationships between achievement goals, expectancy-values and intention for future participation in physical activities (e.g. Xiang et al., 2011). It also extends current knowledge on students’ motivation to participate in physical activities as the students involved in this study were older than those targeted in previous studies. All in all, it emphasizes the role of physical education teachers in promoting a mastery climate in their lessons, reinforcing students’ perceived competence and highlighting the usefulness of learning tasks.