A Content Analysis of Teacher Autonomy Support During a High School Volleyball Unit


  • Jody L. Langdon Georgia Southern University http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5589-1694
  • Collin A. Webster University of South Carolina
  • Eva V. Monsma University of South Carolina
  • Brandonn S. Harris Georgia Southern University




Teacher behavior, communication, need support, physical education, self-determination theory


Reviews of the literature have confirmed the influence of autonomy-supportive teaching on student self-determined motivation and enhancement of skill in various educational contexts influencing students to be more engaged in their learning in addition to having higher levels of perceived skill improvement. Unfortunately, not much of the literature directly examines the autonomy-supportive language that teachers naturally use in physical education. Therefore, this study determined how and when teachers use autonomy-supportive behaviors within the context of a regular physical education (PE) class. Four high school PE teachers (2 male, 2 female, all Caucasian, Mage = 41.25, SD = 11.84) and 140 high school students (Mage = 14.90, SD = 1.01) in compulsory co-educational classes participated in the study. Teachers’ verbal behaviors were audio recorded during four 90-min classes for three of the teachers and eight 45-min classes for the remaining teacher. Audio data were transcribed verbatim. Class observations and field notes also contributed to the analysis and helped the researchers to contextualize data collected via recordings. Findings indicate that teachers used a variety of autonomy-supportive behaviors, some more often than others. Some behaviors were underrepresented and, in some cases, were observed in an interconnected nature. The low use of some behaviors suggests room for improvement, with the benefits of such behaviors more directly influencing student motivation and enhancing skill learning. 

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Author Biography

Jody L. Langdon, Georgia Southern University

Associate Professor

School of Health and Kinesiology