Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Heather Erwin


Youth physical activity (PA) levels, specifically that of girls, decline as they enter the middle grades (Parish & Treasure, 2003). Physical education (PE) is one area in the school environment where student PA can be increased. One goal recognized by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) is for students to be physically active for at least 50% of class time and be offered PE for at least 225 minutes per week (SHAPE, 2013). Achievement Goal Theory (AGT) suggests student perceived motivational climate can influence PA levels, student enjoyment, and intrinsic motivation. The purpose of this study was to determine if student perceived motivational climate predicted student enjoyment and PA levels in PE while controlling for school, gender, grade, and ethnicity. Youth from three middle schools in the southeast United States were asked to wear a pedometer to measure PA levels in PE and complete a questionnaire to measure perceived motivational climate and enjoyment. Participants included 290 students (n = 108 6th grade students, n = 94 7th grade students, n = 88 8th grade students). Results revealed males were more active than females during PE (Mm=57%, Mf=48%), 7th grade participants had the highest PA levels (M=56%, SD= 16), and Hispanic students were the least active (M=45%, SD=16). After controlling for gender, it was found that males had significantly higher levels of enjoyment during PE (Mm =4.29, Mf = 3.87, p<.01), and a mastery climate was perceived over a performance climate by majority of student regardless of gender, grade, or ethnicity (Mmc=3.78, Mpc=2.2). Statistically significant relationships were found between both mastery (p<.01) and performance scores (p<.01) with enjoyment. The performance relationship was negative while the mastery relationship was positive. There was not a significant relationship between the mastery climate and PA and only the performance climate subcategory Unequal Recognition (p<.001) had a significant relationship with and PA during PE.