Self-determination theory

Authored by: Janice Causgrove Dunn , Chantelle Zimmer

Routledge Handbook of Adapted Physical Education

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  January  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367146115
eBook ISBN: 9780429052675
Adobe ISBN:


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Self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2002, 2017) is a prominent theory of human motivation that is highly relevant to the field of adapted physical education (APE). In this chapter, a synopsis of the theory is presented, emphasizing the self-determination mini-theories most commonly seen in seen physical education research: basic psychological needs theory, cognitive evaluation theory, and organismic integration theory. This is followed by a review of the current research relevant to the context of APE, and discussion of the current research trends. Finally, implications for practice based in the research are provided, focusing on recommendations intended to support satisfaction of students’ basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, and positively impact their learning, engagement, self-determined motivation, and well-being.

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