The development of US physical education teachers’ motivating styles: A socialization perspective

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Physical education (PE) teachers’ interpersonal sentiments and behaviours towards students during class define their motivating styles. These motivating styles range from those that support student autonomy to those that pressure students to think and behave in certain ways. Motivating styles are believed to develop through teachers’ prior socialization experiences and the way they are socialized in their current school environments. Drawing from the theories of self-determination and occupational socialization, this study examined the impact of psychological need satisfaction and frustration throughout the socialization process on PE teachers’ motivating styles. Twenty-nine US physical educators with identified autonomy-supportive (n = 9), controlling (n = 8), and neutral (n = 12) motivating styles, based on responses to the Problems in Schools Questionnaire, were formally interviewed. Inductive analysis generated six analyst-constructed typologies describing the teachers’ motivating styles linked to their socialization experiences: (a) Humanitarians; (b) Concrete Roses; (c) Stage Managers; (d) Referees; (e) Coasters; and (f) Jaded Shepherds. Factors affecting motivating styles included the inductive or deductive nature of the contexts in which participants were involved during their acculturation and professional socialization, their professional identity, and the extent to which they experienced psychological need satisfaction and frustration through socializing experiences at work. In general, the results of this study suggest that more autonomy-supportive teachers (a) tend to have experienced inductive contexts growing up, (b) identify chiefly as PE teachers rather than coaches of extracurricular school sports, and (c) enjoy psychological need satisfaction at work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-514
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Physical Education Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • Self-determination
  • analyst-constructed typologies
  • motivation
  • need support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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