Transformational Teaching and Adolescent Physical Activity: Multilevel and Mediational Effects

  • M. R. BeauchampEmail author
  • Y. Liu
  • K. L. Morton
  • L. J. Martin
  • A. H. Wilson
  • A. J. Wilson
  • B. D. Sylvester
  • B. D. Zumbo
  • J. Barling



Regular physical activity is associated with a range of physical and psychological health benefits. In North America the majority of adolescents are insufficiently active.


The purpose of this study was to examine the prospective relationship between adolescents' perceptions of transformational leadership displayed by their school physical education teachers and their own physical activity behaviors, both with respect to within-class physical activity (WCPA) and also leisure time physical activity (LTPA).


The study used a prospective observational design. Using multilevel structural equation modeling (MSEM), we examined the extent to which adolescents' affective attitudes mediated the effects of teachers' behaviors on adolescents' physical activity responses. Two thousand nine hundred and forty-eight adolescents (M age = 14.33, SD = 1.00, N female = 1,641, 55.7 %) from 133 Grade 8–10 classes in British Columbia (Canada) provided ratings of their physical education teachers' behaviors midway through the school year. Two months later, students completed measures of affective attitudes, WCPA, and LTPA.


The results indicated that adolescents' perceptions of transformational teaching explained significant variance in both WCPA and LTPA, and these effects were fully mediated by adolescents' affective attitudes (total indirect effect: b = 0.581, p < 0.001).


The findings suggest that transformational leadership behaviors displayed by physical education teachers may be an important source of adolescent enjoyment of physical education as well as health-enhancing physical activity involvement within school and outside of school.


Transformational leadership Multilevel structural equation modeling Adolescents Affective attitudes Physical activity 



This research was supported by a career investigator award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research as well as an operating grant from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada awarded to Mark Beauchamp.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. R. Beauchamp
    • 1
    Email author
  • Y. Liu
    • 2
  • K. L. Morton
    • 3
  • L. J. Martin
    • 4
  • A. H. Wilson
    • 1
  • A. J. Wilson
    • 1
  • B. D. Sylvester
    • 1
  • B. D. Zumbo
    • 2
  • J. Barling
    • 5
  1. 1.School of KinesiologyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of Public Health and Primary CareUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Department of Kinesiology and Physical EducationUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  5. 5.School of BusinessQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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