Enhancing Student Learning in Sport Education Through the Manipulation of Need-Supportive Instruction

Nicholas Washburn, Oleg A. Sinelnikov, K. Andrew R. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Though motivationally nurturing instruction has been linked to numerous desirable outcomes, its presence and impact on student learning, particularly in models-based practice, is largely absent in the literature. Grounded in self-determination theory, this study examined the efficacy of an intervention aimed at increasing the provision of psychological need-supportive instruction and the associated impact on learning within Sport Education. This study included one preservice teacher, Jason, and the 58 students in his fifth-grade class. Jason first taught one season of floor hockey. During this season, Jason’s need-supportive behaviors were coded and his students were tested in the cognitive (pre, post, retention) and psychomotor (pre and post) domains. Following a workshop seeking to increase his provision of need support, Jason then taught a season of pickleball to the same class, and identical data collection procedures were used. Relative to the preintervention season, Jason exhibited significantly more need-supportive behaviors in the form of autonomy support (p = .006), structure (p < .001), and relatedness support (p = .004) in the postintervention season. Analysis of variance tests revealed significant improvements in cognitive scores during both seasons from pre- to posttest; however, only during the postintervention season were scores significantly higher from posttest to retention, t(53) = 2.20, p = .033, d = .22. Though significant improvement in students’ contextual skill performance was observed in both seasons, t-test results using change scores indicated significantly more progress was made during the postintervention season. Significant improvement in decontextualized skill performance was comparable across seasons. Collectively, these results suggest not only that preservice teachers’ motivating styles are malleable, but also that increased provision of need support in physical education may facilitate improvements in student learning.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)848-875
JournalThe Physical Educator
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Self determination
  • sport education
  • learning


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