Self-Determination theory applied to physical education: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Diego Vasconcellos, Philip D. Parker, Toni Hilland, Renata Cinelli, Katherine B. Owen, Nathanial Kapsal, Jane Lee, Devan Antczak, Nikos Ntoumanis, R. M. Ryan, C. Lonsdale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

281 Scopus citations


In this review we examine the evidence regarding self-determination theory within the school physical education context. We applied a multilevel structural equation modeling approach to meta-analyze data from a systematic review that identified 265 relevant studies. In line with theory, autonomous motivation was positively correlated with adaptive outcomes and negatively correlated with maladaptive outcomes. Introjected regulation was modestly correlated with both adaptive and maladaptive outcomes. External regulation and amotivation both showed negative relationships with adaptive outcomes, and positive relationship with maladaptive outcomes. Also supporting SDT, autonomy, competence, and relatedness satisfactions were strongly correlated with autonomous student motivation, and less strongly, but still positively, correlated with introjected regulation. Weak negative correlations were found between autonomy, competence, and relatedness and external regulation. Amotivation had moderate negative correlations with needs satisfaction. Findings further revealed that teachers more greatly impact classroom experiences of autonomy and competence, whereas relatedness in physical education is associated with both peer and teacher influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1444-1469
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Diego Vasconcellos was supported by a CNPq Scholarship – Brazil.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Psychological Association.


  • Autonomy
  • Classroom learning
  • Meta-analysis
  • Motivation
  • Physical education


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