Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1692–1705 | Cite as

Autonomy-supportive behaviors promote autonomous motivation, knowledge structures, motor skills learning and performance in physical education

  • Behzad BehzadniaEmail author
  • Hasan Mohammadzadeh
  • Malek Ahmadi


Previous research provides evidence as to the influence of teachers’ autonomy-supportive behaviors on students’ autonomous motivation in physical education (PE). However, few studies have considered the impact of teachers’ autonomy-supportive behaviors on enhancing knowledge structures and motor skills learning in PE. The present study investigated whether an autonomy-supportive intervention designed to promote motor skills learning (experimental group), compared with conventional teaching (control group), would increase autonomous motivation, knowledge structures, skill learning, and performance and whether it decrease controlled motivation in students over a semester. Twenty-eight PE students participated in this quasi-experimental study. Badminton skills were assessed in pre and post intervention and retention sessions. Motivational regulations and knowledge structures were measured in pre and post intervention. In a session after the retention, game performance was measured on the transfer test. Overall, the experimental group and the hypothesized process model were supported. The experimental group demonstrated greater mean scores in some skills in post and retention tests. Compared to students in the control group, students in the experimental group reported greater autonomous motivation and game performance in the post-test. Furthermore, knowledge structures in both groups improved. Promoting skill learning in an autonomy-supportive way, compared with conventional teaching, has important practical implications for PE programs. We conclude that the intervention was successful in enhancing students’ autonomous motivation and performance.


Autonomy-support Self-determination theory Constraints-led approach Skill learning Game play performance 



This study was not funded by any Institution or Company.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Behzad Behzadnia declares that he has no conflict of interest. Hasan Mohammadzaded declares that he has no conflict of interest. Malek Ahmadi declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Studies

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Motor Behaviour, Faculty of Sport SciencesUrmia UniversityUrmiaIran
  2. 2.Department of Sport SciencesIslamic Azad UniversityUrmiaIran

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