The teacher’s role on the motivation and mental health in physical education students

Jorge Zamarripa , Isabel Castillo , Inés Tomás , José Tristán , Octavio Álvarez



Introduction. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) suggests that individuals with autonomous regulations hold greater levels of optimal functioning than those with controlling regulations. In addition, SDT underlines the importance of social aspects within motivational processes. In the educational setting, teachers’ interpersonal style while giving instructions represents one of the most prominent social factors for triggering students’ motivation. Therefore, contexts that foster autonomous motivation are considered the most suitable for promoting pupils’ optimal growth and mental health.

Objective. To examine if students’ perception of Physical Education Teachers’ support of their needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness could help encouraging their well-being and reducing their ill-being, through the mediating role of motivation.

Method. Participants were 734 secondary school students between 11-17 years old. We used a cross-sectional design. Statistical analyses were carried out using structural equation modeling.

Results. The degree to which the students perceived that the teacher-created context supported their autonomy, competence and relatedness predicted positively their autonomous motivation and negatively their no motivation, which in turn predicted positively well-being and negatively ill-being.

Discussion and conclusion. Our results highlight the importance of autonomous motivation as the most powerful mediation mechanism for improving well-being and avoiding ill-being in physical activity classes. This research confirms and extends the finding of the self-determination theory within the Mexican population.


Faculty; physical education and training; motivation; mental health; students; Mexico