Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



It is clearly documented that physically active lifestyles result in numerous health benefits. Unfortunately, a majority of individuals do not meet recommended physical activity (PA) guidelines. Physical education (PE) courses provide avenues for students to increase PA. Teachers and public health officials identify the importance of student motivation constructs such as interest in promoting PA behaviors and other healthy life habits. The purposes of this dissertation were to advance the measurement of situational interest by investigating social indicators derived from self-determination theory (SDT), and to test a theoretical model that integrates interest theory and SDT. Two quantitative studies were designed to meet this goal. In the first study, using interest theory and SDT as frameworks, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) tests were performed to determine if needs support from the SDT perspective were social indicators of situational interest. Relationships between middle school students’ situational interest, needs support, engagement, disaffection, and personal interest toward PE were also explored. Findings did not support needs support as social indicators of situational interest; rather findings revealed that needs support was a related but unique factor of the PE learning environment. Situational interest demonstrated discriminant validity with personal interest and engagement by producing moderate positive relationships. The aim of the second study was to test an integrated model of interest theory and SDT with college students enrolled in PA courses. Again, CFA findings indicated that situational interest and needs support were separate but related factors. Novelty and challenge indicators failed to properly load on the situational interest factor. Findings from structural equation modeling supported the integration of interest theory and SDT. Situational interest is a stronger predictor of needs satisfaction compared to needs support. Results did not find direct relationship between situational interest and personal interest. Overall, findings provide useful information about students’ situational interest, personal interest, engagement, and disaffection in diverse PE and PA contexts. Also, the results provide evidence for the integration of interest theory and SDT. Finally, results can provide PE and PA teachers and researchers with strategies to structure learning environments that may promote student motivation and engagement, and reduce disaffection.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Garn, Alex

Included in

Kinesiology Commons