Date of Submission



The overarching aim of this thesis was to investigate the effect of need support from the teacher on primary school students’ enjoyment, effort, and cognitive outcomes in physical education. Study 1 was a systematic review and meta-analysis of 265 studies that investigated the evidence regarding the tenets of Self-determination theory (SDT) in the physical education context. With few exceptions, path analysis supported the relationships proposed by SDT. Teacher need support was a stronger predictor of student autonomy (ß = .54, 95% CI [.53, .55]) and competence (ß = .31, 95% CI [.29-.33]), compared with peer support (ß = .17, 95% CI [.16, .18] and ß = .15, 95% CI [.13, .16], respectively). Peer support (ß = .59, 95% CI [.58, .60]) was a stronger predictor of relatedness than teacher support (ß = .25, 95% CI [.24, .26]). Indirect effects of teacher support on adaptive (ß = .19) and maladaptive outcomes (ß = -.15) suggested needs satisfaction and motivation played mediating roles in these relationships. Study 2 investigated selected psychometric properties of the questionnaires used in the thesis, in which I measured students’ perceptions of their teacher beahviour and students’ perceptions of their in-class affective, behavioural, and cognitive experiences, using data from a sample of Year 3 and 4 students from Australian governament-funded primary schools. The fit indices, item loadings, and internal consistency estimates of scores derived from the measures supported the hypothesized factor structure of the questionnaires employed in this thesis. Study 3 investigated the effects of a teacher training intervention on students’ experiences in physical education and school sport lessons. It also examined whether changes in teachers’ interpersonal style were mediators of these relationships. Although no total effects of the intervention on student outcomes or teacher behaviour were found, students’ perception of the teacher behaviour was found to be a predictor of students’ enjoyment, effort, concentration, and use of learning strategies in physical education and school sport lessons.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


240 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Health Sciences

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Education Commons