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“The Stomp and Catch Was Too Easy!” Children’s and Teachers’ Perceptions of Inclusive High and Low Autonomy Motor Skills Instruction

Alice M. Buchanan, Benjamin J. Miedema, Mary E. Rudisill, Jerraco Johnson, Claire Bridges, J. Megan Irwin, Brooke Converse, Melissa Pangelinan


Physical educators seek ways to motivate students to engage in lifelong physical activity. Research demonstrates that autonomy-supportive climates improve motor skills and competence in children. Although substantial research exists on the benefits of autonomy-supportive climates on children’s motor skills, little is known regarding the perceptions of the teachers and the children. We implemented two instructional climates—an autonomy-supportive climate (ASC) and a teacher-centered controlled (TCC) climate, both designed for learning motor skills—and asked children and teachers about their perceptions of the instructional approaches. Twenty-four children and four teachers participated. Data were collected qualitatively through informal interviews with children, in-depth interviews with teachers, and field observations. All researchers engaged in inductive data analysis and triangulation. The results suggest that children preferred the ASC over the TCC, found the ASC challenging, and thought the ASC facilitated independence and choice. These findings suggest an explanation for why earlier studies found positive learning outcomes in ASC. 

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high autonomy; inclusion; class climate; motor skills

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