A Literature Review on the Motivation of Students as a Critical Aspect of Teaching Physical Education

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In the modern education world, there is a continued insistence on the inclusive of extracurricular activities in school syllabuses. The reasons for these sentiments are varied everywhere but share the underlining theme of Physical education is an important integral part of learning. For this reason, this piece of work is aimed at testing various schools of thoughts on matters about the motivation bestowed upon students who engage themselves in physical education either directly or indirectly. This work thus compares and contrasts critically, views and opinions presented on the motivation of students as a critical aspect of physical education. The structure is tailored to answer the questions listed below:

  1. To establish if any, the relationship between physical education and the health of the students
  2. Finding out if the performance of students is in any way motivated by the level in which the students are involved in physical activities
  3. To examine other intrinsic values of physical education attainable through active involvement in physical activities
  4. To briefly explore the need support platform of physical education
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Twelve literary articles have been extensively used in a bid to compare the scholar’s views and opinions on the established questions under the themes discussed through this work.

Healthy Living

The human body needs to be active for at least twelve hours in a day to function optimally (Mills, Kania-Korwel, Fagan, McEvoy, Laughlin, & Barrett-Connor, 2017). For example, it is through vigorous physical activities that the body can be able to excrete wastes that can otherwise be intoxicating to the body. Excretion aids in avoiding illness (Haerens, Aelterman, Van den Berghe, De Meyer, Soenens & Vansteenkiste, 2013). It is thus clear from the preceding that, excretion processes are very vital in ensuring that the body of a human being function optimally and generally in a manner that promotes health. It is paramount thus; to be aware of means through which one can aid the body to attain health via excretion. This is a notion answered by Mills et al. (2017) when they say that, “one way of ensuring that the bodies function well and stay free from most self-induced illness is through active involvement in physical activities.” These sentiments are echoed by Haerens et al. (2013) when they suggest that physical activities make us sweat thereby releasing toxic wastes that can otherwise accumulate in our bodies to cause allergic reactions and health problems. The very basis of a student’s motivation to be a complete person should begin by encouraging and implementing physical education sessions in the school’s curricula.

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Psychological Booster

A number of studies have come up to explain the importance of physical activities to the brain and mental development of students. According to Andersen (2016), the main reason that perhaps prompted relevant authorities to suggest that Physical education finds a way in the school’s curriculum is the psychological dimensions associated with physical activities. The brain works well when stimulated for a while through some physical activities (Mills et al., 2017). The mind of reasonable person has been recorded to exhibit a high level of activity for instance during the day when the body is active because of the various physical activities that one engages. The range of activities can be as simple as walking especially for the obese individuals to as complex as professional weight lifting. Involvement in physical activities has been known to improve the microstructures of the brain white cells (Perlman, 2015). The author is of the view that, through the manufacture of new white cells in the brain as well as the repair of won out cell assist it to function optimally. This is the of implementing physical education in school’s curricula. The perceived benefits are that involvement in physical activities motivates the brain to generate materials that are contributive to the general performance of a person.


Lee and Ward, (2009) suggest that it is not easy to draw the line between leadership and physical education unless you have become a leader due to how active you were in physical activities. The author is of the view that, the role of physical education is two-fold. One might merely admire the way the physical education instructor execute commands. Consequently, leadership aspirations may develop basing the interest upon the experience on the physical education classes. Secondly, grouping physical lessons students and appointing team leaders can have the same effect. The mere fact of being in charge of your peers’ whereabouts can shape one to be a leader. Most of the student leaders are often vibrant when physical education comes into play. The author is of the view that, ones one has established himself or herself as a leader in academic fronts, it’s a spreading trend that more often than not, such individual seeks out leads in physical activities front. Haerens et al. (2013) however, take an indirect approach of leadership and physical activities as they suggest that, physical activities aid in eliciting fear and as such, students can be able to execute leadership roles.

Self Discovery

Students often discover at some place within their course of learning that, aside from education, numerous sports can be utilized positively. This usually takes some form of motivation especially to students who for some reasons do not perform so well in class (Perlman, 2015). The author tentatively gives an example of students being able to execute a play and learn the program in their respective learning institutions. For such students, physical activity can be a determinant of whether or not they are to proceed with their learning. However, Rukavina & Doolittle (2015) bring a more inclusive approach as to why students should be motivated to take part in physical education in a bid to discover oneself. They also suggest that, through physical education, students can learn about their stamina level.

The tolerance of an individual to physical activities can be used medically to generate physical health reports (Yang & Dong, 2017). Certain conditions can stay hidden inside our bodies and restrict the degree at which we can involve ourselves in physical activities, and as such, the intrinsic value of physical education cannot be overlooked. Through active participation and involvement in physical education, individuals can thus be able to tell whether they feel their bodies are functioning optimally or if some conditions are suspected to be in existence within the body in which case medical advice should immediately be sort after.

Physical Education Motivation versus Perceived Competence

According to Moreno-Murcia et al. (2011), one major factor that should be used as a foundation for motivating students to engage themselves in physical education is the perceived level of competence. The authors hold the view that students are likely to participate in physical activities such as football and basketball because they feel superior if one emerges victorious over the opponent. Mills et al. (2017) question this school of thought rising concerns over what should be the motive for the involvement in physical activities. In their view, the primary purpose should be centered on the intrinsic gains such as healthy living and medical conditions discovery.

However, Chatzipanteli, Digelidis & Papaioannou (2015) harmonize the thoughts above by proposing an integrative approach that works both for children and adolescents. Chatzipanteli  et al. (2015) are of the view that, experts in the area of physical education administration to instill intrinsic gains should only use facial gains of physical educations. For example, students may be motivated to participate in physical activities via the issue of trophies to winners. In as much as the awards will motivate the students to be participative, the benefits such as healthy living are indirectly realized.

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Skill Development

One direct benefit of involving oneself with physical activities is that skill sets in various fields can be developed and improved in a manner that is enjoyable (Grasten, Jaakkola, Liukkonnen, Watt & Yli-Piipari, 2012). According to Trendowski and Woods (2015), students may discover some hidden talents or get the courage to develop their ability to levels that can earn students spots in the competitive platform concerning their skill sets. Both authors attest to the fact that, physical activity involvement can lead the discovery of talents and abilities. With the relevant resources made available through the in cooperation of physical education in school’s curricula, these skills can be tapped into positively in a way that is not only beneficial to the students in question but also their institutions at large.

For students, for instance, skills can be developed to high levels such that the students can secure absorption into the various sporting clubs and organizations from where they can develop a career and consequently earn a living. Schools on the other hand with the ability to display such levels of success in matters regarding physical education will find it easy to run similar programs due to already developed trust evident in real life scenario. This in its primary form, can serve as a basis for convincing non-compliant institutions and students to be active in physical activities.

Need Support

According to De Meyer et al. (2014), the best approach of instilling the concept of the importance of physical activities to students is via portraying physical education as geared towards the support of particular needs the students must view as essential in their learning course. These authors are of the view that, supporting the relevance of physical education via attaching it to the meeting a need; for instance, academic prowess, motivates the students to engage themselves in physical activities and this can promote the adoption of physical education culture in school’s curricula.

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It is more appropriate that need support techniques are regulated via observatory teaching techniques (Koka, 2013). The author purports that, the aesthetic value of physical education is not yet well received and processed. The importance is often underestimated, and failure in the implementation of curricula supportive protocols stem from this very fact. As such, it is paramount that, physical education teachers ensure that, the progress of their class physical education sessions are observed carefully and at a personal level if the available resources merit the opportunity. This will help cultivate the culture of active and regular involvement of students in physical activities.


From the existent research on the motivation of students as a critical aspect of physical education, it can be deduced that physical education and related physical activities are essential in ensuring that students stay healthy as the excretion via sweating when engaging in sports aid to remove toxins from the body. Also, it can be established that the level and degree of involvement in physical activities boost the brain development with there being scientific evidence directly crediting the development of microstructure of the brains white components to active participation in sports.

Further, the intrinsic values of physical education should serve as a significant basis for motivating students to engage themselves in physical education. The central inherent value for involvement in physical activities is the elimination of diseases from the body as well as ensuring that, the probability of disease contraction are reduced to other issues away from the lifestyle. Also, tangible benefits realizable through involvement in physical activities include skill development and career advancements. One aspect that creates a gap between what existent researchers have offered and the state of affairs in various schools is that there is no a precise definition as to the rationale for the motivation of students as an essential aspect of physical education. It remains to be established whether need support and observatory teaching techniques are useful in motivating students to engage in physical education. However, the widely accepted fact is that physical education is an important aspect of a student’s education course and institution should embrace the in cooperation of physical education in their curricula.

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  1. Andersen, S. L. (2016). Commentary on the special issue on the adolescent brain: Adolescence, trajectories, and the importance of prevention. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 70, 329-333.
  2. Chatzipanteli A., Digelidis, N. & Papaioannou A. (2015). Self-Regulation, motivation and teaching styles in physical education classes:  An intervention study. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 34, 333-344.
  3. De Meyer, J., Speleers, L., Tallir, I., Soenens, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Aelterman, N., Van den Berghe, L. & Haerens, L. (2014). Does observed controlling teaching behavior relate to students’ motivation in physical education? Journal of Education Psychology, 106, 541-544.
  4. Grasten, A., Jaakkola, T., Liukkonnen. J., Watt. A., & Yli-Piipari, S. (2012). Prediction of enjoyment in school physical education. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 11, 260-269.
  5. Haerens, L., Aelterman, N., Van den Berghe, L., De Meyer, J., Soenens. B., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2013). Observing physical education teachers’ need-supportive interactions in classroom settings. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 35, 3-17.
  6. Koka. A. (2013). The Relationships between perceived teaching behaviors and motivation in physical education: A one-year longitudinal study. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 57, 33-53.
  7. Lee, M., & Ward, P. (2009). Generalization of tactics in tag rugby from practice to games in middle school physical education. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 14, 189–207.
  8. Mills, P. J., Kania-Korwel, I., Fagan, J., McEvoy, L. K., Laughlin, G. A., & Barrett-Connor, E. (2017). Excretion of the herbicide glyphosate in older adults between 1993 and 2016. Jama, 318(16), 1610-1611.
  9. Moreno-Murcia, J., Sicilia, A., Cervello, E., Huescar, E. & Dumitru, D. (2011). The relationship between goal orientations, motivational climate and self- reported discipline in physical education. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 10, 119-129.
  10. Perlman, D. (2015). Help motivate the amotivated by being a supportive teacher. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 20, 201-214.
  11. Rukavina, P. & Doolittle, S. (2015). Fostering inclusion and positive physical education experiences for overweight and obese students. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 87, 40-50.
  12. Trendowski. T, & Woods. A. (2015). Seven student-centered- principles for smart teaching in physical education. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 86, 47-50.
  13. Yang. C. & Dong. M. (2017). A study of the correlation between teachers’ teaching styles and students’ participation motivation in the physical education. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 16, 200-203.
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