Autonomy-supportive teaching on learn-to-swim in (school)children: An explorative empirical study

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It is demanding to design swimming lessons in which all children are motivated to participate and, thus, sustainably learn to swim regardless of their prerequisites (e.g. inclusion). The concept of “Autonomy-Supportive Aquatic Education” (ASAE) [1] is based on the Self-Determination Theory [2], linking autonomy support in teaching to a strengthening of intrinsic motivation. This explorative empirical study investigates hypothesised benefits of ASAE on autonomy support and intrinsic motivation.
A quasi-experimental approach was used to conduct a study with non-swimmers (n=60; female 43.3%, age 8.6 ± 0.82) in five primary schools’ regular swimming lessons. An intervention over a period of five weeks (one lesson per week) compared autonomy-supportive teaching (AST) with instructor-centred teaching (ICT). AST learning objective contents including respective games and tasks were offered to the participating children by choice with the teacher taking on an accompanying and moderating role. Whereas in ICT the identical learning objective contents, games and tasks were instructed by a teacher taking on a guide-instructive role without any choices given to participating children. Autonomy support [BPNSF scale; 3] and intrinsic motivation [SRQ-A scale; 4] were assessed using standardised questionnaires in each lesson.
Autonomy support and intrinsic motivation positively correlate (r=.345). AST led to an improved perception of autonomy support (pCONCLUSION:
All children were highly and rather intrinsically motivated. AST implemented by the concept of ASAE supports autonomy in learn-to-swim as a promising approach.
With respect to this explorative design, further research will be necessary.
Funding: Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (8273-2021).

1. Ohlendorf, L. and I. Staub, Handlungsoptionen und Potenziale eines geöffneten Schwimmunterrichts – wirkungsvoll und motivierend Schwimmen lehren [Opportunities and potentials of an autonomy-supportive aquatic education - teaching swimming in an effective and motivating way], in Vermittlungskompetenz in Sport, Spiel und Bewegung - Sportartspezifische Perspektiven, T. Vogt, Editor. 2020, Meyer & Meyer: Aachen.
2. Deci, E.L. and R.M. Ryan, Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 2008. 49(3): p. 182–185.
3. Chen, B., et al., Basic psychological need satisfaction, need frustration, and need strength across four cultures. Motivation and Emotion, 2015. 39(2): p. 216–236.
4. Kröner, J., et al., The Construct Validity of the German Academic Self-regulation Questionnaire (SRQ-A) within Primary and Secondary School Children. Frontiers in Psychology, 2017. 8.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 27th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science : 30 August-2 September 2022
EditorsF. Dela, M.F. Piacentini, J.W. Helge, Á. Calvo Lluch, E. Sáez, F. Pareja Blanco, E. Tsolakidis
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationSevilla
PublisherEuropean College of Sport Science
Publication date08.2022
ISBN (Print)ISBN 978-3-9818414-5-9
Publication statusPublished - 08.2022
EventAnnual Congress of the
European College of Sport Science
- Sevilla, Sevilla, Spain
Duration: 30.08.202202.09.2022
Conference number: 27


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