The motivational relevance of peer and teacher relationship profiles in physical education

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Objectives:The purpose of this study was to identify combinations or profiles of peer (i.e., friendship quality, peer acceptance) and teacher (i.e., perceived support) relationship variables in physical education and then test for motivation-related differences among the emergent profiles.Design:Cross-sectional survey.Method:An online survey assessing study variables was completed by 7th and 8th grade physical education students (n = 244).Results:Three meaningful profiles emerged: a Mixed profile (n = 67) with relatively high peer acceptance, a trend toward relatively high friendship quality and relatively low teacher support, a Weak profile (n = 74) with relatively low peer relationships and teacher support, and a Positive profile (n = 103) with relatively high teacher support and a trend toward high peer relationships. Two MANOVAs showed significant main effects (p < .01, ηp2 = .30 and .17) with follow-ups specifying that the Positive profile had higher (p < .01) perceived autonomy, relatedness, self-determined motivation, enjoyment, effort and value compared to the others, both the Positive and Mixed profiles experienced less (p < .05) worry, higher perceptions of competence and physical activity than the Weak profile, and the Mixed and Weak profiles experienced similar perceptions of autonomy, self-determined motivation, effort, and value.Conclusions:Profile differences suggest that positive relationships with both teachers and peers are associated with optimal physical education experiences. Positive peer relationships, even when teacher support is relatively low may afford some advantages within this setting.

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