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Title: Motivational and environmental predictors of physical activity during the transition from elementary to secondary school: A self-determination and social-ecological approach
Other Titles: Motivationele en omgevingspredictoren van fysieke activiteit tijdens de overgang van de lagere school naar het middelbaar onderwijs: Een benadering vanuit de zelf-determinatietheorie en het sociaal-ecologisch model
Authors: Rutten, Cindy
Issue Date: 4-Jun-2013
Abstract: The transition from elementary to secondary school is an important event in children’s life where a lot of changes occur, such as a new physical school environment, new classmates and new teachers. Flemish children usually transfer to secondary school around the age of 11-13 years, which is a period where decreases of physical activity (PA) have been observed. The aim of this doctoral thesis was to examine children’s motivational processes in school physical education (PE) and to identify correlates and predictors of PA and sedentary behavior during the transition from elementary to secondary school. Based on the self-determination theory and the social-ecological model this doctoral thesis focused on individual, interpersonal as well as physical environmental factors during this educational transition. The first part of this doctoral thesis examined the motivational processes in school PE and consisted of two studies. Chapter 1.1 was a cross-sectional study among 11-12 year old children following classes in 6th grade of elementary school. The need-supportive role of the PE teacher and the physical environment in promoting autonomous motivation to engage in PE was studied. It was further tested whether these relations were mediated by the three basic psychological needs (i.e., perceptions of autonomy, competence and relatedness). The results showed that the provision of structure, autonomy support and involvement by the PE teacher was positively related with autonomous motivation toward PE. Perceptions of autonomy and competence mediated this relation. The physical school environment was also positively related with autonomous motivation to engage in PE and this relation was mediated by the perception of autonomy. It was concluded that both the PE teacher as well as the physical school environment can promote autonomous motivation toward PE in 6th grade elementary school children. The second study of part I (chapter 1.2) was a longitudinal study that focused on the personal and environmental changes during the transition from elementary to secondary school. The aim of this study was threefold. First, changes in pupils’ autonomous motivation toward PE, in the three basic psychological needs, in perceived need support of the PE teacher and in the physical school environment were examined during this educational transition. Second, it was tested whether changes in the perceptions of the need-supportive role of the PE teacher and the perceived physical school environment predicted changes in autonomous motivation toward PE. Finally, the mediating role of the changes in the three basic psychological needs was investigated. An increase of feelings of relatedness with their classmates, perceptions of need support of the PE teacher and the perceived physical school environment was observed during the transition from elementary to secondary school. Furthermore, an improvement of the perception of the need-supporting role of the PE teacher resulted in more autonomous motivation toward PE. Among boys, this relation was mediated by changes in competence and among girls by changes in all three psychological needs. No relation was found between changes in perceptions of the physical school environment and autonomous motivation to engage in PE among girls, but a negative relation was found among boys. No mediation could be identified in this relation. One of the main conclusions was the vital role of the PE teacher in maintaining or increasing autonomous motivation to engage in PE during the transition from elementary to secondary school. The second part of this doctoral thesis focused on the motivational and environmental correlates and predictors of (change in) PA and sedentary behavior and consisted of three studies. Chapter 2.1 had the aim to examine cross-sectionally the mediating role of autonomous motivation to be physically active in the relation between the home/neighborhood environment and pedometer-determined PA. The results identified positive direct relations with pedometer-determined PA for autonomy support of friends, parental logistic support, parental explicit modeling and neighborhood safety. Mediation of autonomous motivation to be physically active was found in the relation between perceived autonomy support of friends and pedometer-determined PA as well as between parental logistic support and pedometer-determined PA. Moreover, a positive indirect relation through autonomous motivation to be physically active emerged between perceptions of autonomy support of the parents and pedometer-determined PA. The results of this study highlight the importance of the social environment in the promotion of a physically active lifestyle. The second study of part II (chapter 2.2) was conducted to identify changes in PA and sedentary behavior during the educational transition. A decrease in self-reported moderate to vigorous PA was detected from elementary to secondary school (-12.2%), but no change was observed in pedometer-determined PA. Furthermore, self-reported moderate to vigorous PA during leisure time decreased more in overweight/obese children (-18.3%) compared with normal weight children (-6.7%). An increase in screen-based sedentary behavior was found (+2.99 hours/week), mainly due to an increase of recreational computer use (+3.22 hours/week). Computer use increased predominantly in overweight/obese boys (+8.18 hours/week). Girls (+3.57 hours/week) and normal weight children (+2.83 hours/week) reported more time spent on homework in secondary school. These results suggest that the contribution of different types of PA (e.g., purposeful and non-purposeful or incidental PA) to total PA changes during the educational transition. Overall, children spent more time on computer and homework. The third study of part II (chapter 2.3) of this doctoral thesis had the aim to identify which school- and home-based factors during elementary school predict PA and screen-based sedentary behavior during secondary school. The results showed that higher levels of pedometer-determined PA among 13- to 14- year old children were predominantly predicted by higher levels of pedometer-determined PA at the age of 11-12, higher levels of parental logistic support at the age of 11-12 and being a boy. Higher levels of moderate to vigorous PA in 8th grade resulted from higher levels of moderate to vigorous PA in 6th grade, being a boy, having a normal weight status in 6th grade, more parental logistic support in 6th grade and more autonomous motivation toward PE in 6th grade. Finally, the most important predictors of lower levels of screen-based sedentary behavior in secondary school were lower levels of television/computer use in elementary school, a normal/high socio-economic status, more PA related parental explicit modeling in elementary school and more PA related autonomy support of friends in elementary school. It was concluded that PA as well as screen-based sedentary behavior at the end of elementary school predict PA and screen-based sedentary behavior in secondary school. This study also highlights the important role of the parents in the promotion of a physically active lifestyle. To conclude, interventions to promote PA during the transition from elementary to secondary school should focus on the school as well as the home environment. In particular, the supportive role of the parents is important to maintain or increase PA levels (i.e. by providing logistic support) and decrease screen-based sedentary behavior (i.e., by explicit modeling) in 11 to 14 year old children.
Table of Contents: Acknowledgements - Dankwoord 7
English summary 11
Dutch summary - Samenvatting 15
General introduction 19

PART I - Students’ motivational processes in school physical education 53
Chapter 1.1 55
How school social and physical environments relate to autonomous motivation in physical education: the mediating role of need satisfaction
Chapter 1.2 77
Predicting change in students’ autonomous motivation in physical education during the transition from elementary to secondary school

PART II - Motivational and environmental correlates and predictors (of change) in physical activity and sedentary behavior 99
Chapter 2.1 101
The relation between environmental factors and pedometer-determined physical activity in children: the mediating role of autonomous motivation
Chapter 2.2 123
Changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior during the transition from elementary to secondary school
Chapter 2.3 139
Which school- and home-based factors in elementary school predict physical activity and sedentary behavior in secondary school? A prospective cohort study

General discussion 159
Appendices 189
Questionnaire scales 190
Professional career 210
Appositions - Bijstellingen 212
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Physical Activity, Sports & Health Research Group

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