Physical Education, Positivism, and Optimistic Claims From Achievement Goal Theorists

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Achievement goal theory, as an attempt to explain the factors that influence motivated behavior, has received signiticant attention from youth sport researchers, sport psychologists, and educators since its proposal in 1980. This papr reviews the basic tenets of achievement goal theory and outlines potential problems through its usage in attempting lo understand student behavior and attitudes in physical education. Specifically, I argue this reductionist and decontextualized research treats the physical education student as a motivational problem, the teacher as the solution, and the social context of physical education and sport as nonproblematic. This positivist approach to knowledge construction may indirectly act to perpetuate inequitable power relations and dominant idenlogies found in physical education. Ironically, this could dissuade certain youth from participating in sport or physical education, the antithesis of the activity promotion objectives of many achievement goal theorists. I conclude by suggesting to enhance physical education practice, research should employ critical and reflective methods of knowing and continue to seek out student and teacher voices to help create responsive leaming environments for diverse student needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-31
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2000

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