Study aim: Research suggests that physical activity rates decline sharply after high school. The pattern of activity or inactivity during college tends to persist into adulthood. A critical need exists for examination of strategies to engage college-age students in physical activity habits. One way to do this is through physical activity courses offered in colleges. This study examines the relationship between perceptions of a caring psychological climate and group connectedness, enjoyment, and attitudes toward classmates and the instructor in group physical activity courses. Material and methods: Participants were 174 students (107 males and 67 females; Mage = 21.71) enrolled in exercise, martial arts, and sports courses at a large university in the Mountain West. Results: Perceptions of a caring climate were significantly related to enhanced feelings of group connectedness, heightened enjoyment, and more positive attitudes toward classmates and instructor. Discussion: These findings suggest that a strategy to foster engagement in physical activity courses on campus is to train instructors to value, support, and welcome students.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.
1. Ames C. Archer J. (1998) Achievement goals in the classroom: Students’ learning strategies and motivation processes. J. Educ. Psychol. 80: 260-267. DOI: 10.1037/0022-06126.96.36.1990.
2. Ames C. (1992) Classrooms: Goals structures and student motivation. J. Educ. Psychol. 84: 261-271. DOI: 10.1037/0022-06188.8.131.521.
3. Armstrong S. Oomen-Early J. (2009) Social connectedness self-esteem and depression symptomatology among collegiate athletes versus nonathletes. J. ACH. 57: 521-526. DOI: 10.3200/JACH.57.5.521-526.
4. Bandura A. (1989) Human agency and social cognitive theory. Am. Psychol. 44: 1175-1184. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.44.9.1175.
5. Bassuk S.S. Manson J.E. (2005) Epidemiological evidence for the role of physical activity in reducing risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. J. Appl. Physiol. 99: 1193-1204. DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00160.2005.
6. Brewer B.W. Diehl N.S. Cornelius A.E. Joshua M.D. Van Raalte J.L. (2004) Exercising caution: Social physique anxiety and protective self-presentational behaviour. J. Sci. Med. Sport 7: 47-55. DOI:10.1016/S1440-2440(04)80043-4.
7. Brown T.C. Fry M.D. (2011) Helping members commit to exercise: Specific strategies to impact the climate at fitness centers. J. Sport Psychol. Action 2: 70-80. DOI: 10.1080/21520704.2011.582803.
8. Brown T.C. Fry M.D. (2013) Association between females’ perceptions of college aerobic class motivational climates and their responses. Women Health 53: 843-857. DOI: 10.1080/03630242.2013.835298.
9. Brown T.C. Fry M.D. (2014) College exercise class climates physical self-concept and psychosocial well-being. J. Clin. Sport Psychol. 8: 299-313. DOI: 10.1123/jcsp.2014-0031.
10. Buckworth J. Nigg C. (2004) Physical activity exercise and sedentary behavior in college students. J. ACH. 53: 28-34. DOI: 10.3200/JACH.53.1.28-34.
11. Calfas K.J. Sallis J.F. Lovato C.Y. Campbell J. (1994) Physical activity and its determinants before and after college graduation. Med. Exerc. Nutr. Health 3: 323-334.
12. Cohen J. (1988) Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum.
13. Duda J.L. Nicholls J.G. (1992) Dimensions of achievement motivation in schoolwork and sport. J. Educ. Psychol. 84: 290-299. DOI: 10.1037/0022-06184.108.40.2060.
14. Dumith S.C. Gigante D.P. Domingues M.R. Kohl III H.W. (2011) Physical activity change during adolescence: a systematice review and a pooled analysis. Int. J. Epidemiol. 40: 685-698. DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyq272.
15. Dzewaltowski D.A. Noble J.M. Shaw J.M. (1990) Physical activity participation: Social cognitive theory versus the theories of reasoned action and planned behavior. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 12: 388-405.
16. Egli T. Bland H.W. Melton B.R. Czech D.R. (2011) Influence of age sex and race on college students’ exercise motivation of physical activity. J. ACH. 59: 399-409. DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2010.513074.
17. Fitzsimmons-Craft E.E. Harney M.B. Brownstone L.M. Higgens M.K. Bardone-Cone A.M. (2012) Examining social physique anxiety and disordered eating in college women: The roles of social comparison and body surveillance. Appetite 59: 796-805. DOI: 10.1016/j. appet.2012.08.019.
18. Fox KR. The influence of physical activity on mental well-being. Public Health Nutr. 1999; 2:411-418. DOI:10.1017/S1368980099000567
19. Fox L.D. Rejeski W.J. Gauvin L. (2000) Effects of leadership style and group dynamics on enjoyment of physical activity. Am. J. Health Promot. 14: 277-283. DOI: 10.4278/0890-1171-14.5.277.
20. Fry M.D. Newton M. (2003) Application of achievement goal theory in an urban youth tennis setting. J. Appl. Sport Psychol. 15: 50-66. DOI:10.1080/10413200305399.
21. Fry M.D. Gano-Overway L.A. (2010) Exploring the contribution of the caring climate to the youth sport experience. J. Appl. Sport Psychol. 22: 294-304. DOI: 10.1080/10413201003776352.
22. Fry M.D. Guivernau M. Kim M.-S. Newton M. Gano-Overway L.A. Magyar M.T. (2012) Youth perceptions of a caring climate emotional regulation and psychological well-being. Sport Exerc. Perform. Psychol. 1: 44-57. DOI: 10.1037/a0025454.
23. Gano-Overway L.A. (2013) Exploring the connections between caring and social behaviors in physical education. Res. Q. Exerc. Sport 84: 104-114. DOI: 10.1080/02701367.2013.762322.
24. Green K. (2002) Physical education and the ‘couch potato society’-part 1. Eur. J. Phys. Educ. 7: 95-107. DOI: 10.1080/1740898020070203.
25. Haywood K.M. (1991) The role of physical education in the development of active lifestyles. Res. Q. Exerc. Sport 67: 151-156. DOI: 10.1080/02701367.1991.10608705.
26. Hefner J. Eisenberg D. (2009) Social support and mental health among college students. Am. J. Orthopsychiatry 79: 491-499. DOI:10.1037/a0016918.
27. Humpel N. Owen N. Leslie E. (2002) Environmental factors associated with adults’ participation in physical activity: A review. Am. J. Prev. Med. 22: 188-199. DOI:10.1016/S0749-3797(01)00426-3.
28. Keating X.D. Guan J. Pinero J.C. Bridges D.M. (2005) A meta-analysis of college students’ physical activity behaviors. J ACH. 54: 116-126. DOI: 10.3200/JACH.54.2.116-126.
29. Lowery S.E. Kurpius S.E.R. Befort C. Blanks E.H. Sollenberger S. Nicpon M.F. Huser L. (2005) Body image self-esteem and heatlh-related behaviors among male and female first year college students. J. Coll. Stud. Dev. 46: 612-623. DOI: 10.1353/csd.2005.0062.
30. Leslie E. Owen N. Salmon J. Bauman A. Sallis J. Lo S.K. (1999) Insufficiently active Australian college students: perceived personal social and environmental influences. Prev. Med. 28: 20-27. DOI:10.1006/pmed.1998.0375.
31. Lauderdale M.E. Yli-Piipari S. Irwin C.C. Layne T.E. (2015) Gender differences regarding motivation for physical activity among college students: A self-determination approach. The Physical Educator 72: 153-172.
32. McNeill L.H. Kreuter M.W. Subramanian S.V. (2006) Social environment and physical activity: a review of concepts and evidence. Soc. Sci. Med. 63: 1011-1022. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2006.03.012.
33. Nelson T.F. Gortmaker S.L. Subramanian S.V. Wechsler H. (2007) Vigorous physical activity among college students in the United States. J. Phys. Act. Health 4: 495-508.
34. Newton M. Fry M. Watson D. Gano-Overway L.A. Kim M.-S. Magyar M.T. Guivernau M. (2007) Psychometric properties of the Caring Climate Scale in a physical activity setting. Revista de Psicologia del Deporte 16: 67-84.
35. Noddings N. (1992) The Challenge to Care in Schools: An Alternative Approach to Education. New York NY: Teachers College Press.
36. Owens L.M. Ennis C.D. (2005) The ethic of care in teaching: An overview of supportive literature. Quest. 57: 392-425. DOI: 10.1080/00336297.2005.10491864.
37. Petosa R.L. Suminski R. Hortz B. (2003) Predicting vigorous physical activity using social cognitive theory. Am. J. Health Behav. 27: 301-310. DOI: 10.5993/AJHB.27.4.2.
38. Resnick M.D. Harris L.J. Blum R.W. (1993) The impact of caring and connectedness on adolescent health and well‐being. J. Paediatr. Child. Health 29: S3-S9. DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.1993.tb02257.x.
39. Rhodes R.E. Courneya K.S. (2003) Investigating multiple components of attitude subjective norm and perceived control: An examination of the theory of planned behaviour in the exercise domain. Br. J. Soc. Psychol. 42: 129-146. DOI: 10.1348/014466603763276162.
40. Richer S.F. Vallerand R.J. (1995) Supervisors’ interactional styles and subordinates’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. J. Soc. Psychol. 135: 707-722. DOI: 10.1080/00224545.1995.9713974.
41. Seifriz J.J. Duda J.L. Chi L. (1992) The relationship of perceived motivational climate to intrinsic motivation and beliefs about success in basketball. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 14: 375-391.
42. Smith R.E. Smoll F.L. Curtis B. (1979) Coach effectiveness training: A cognitive-behavioral approach to enhancing relationship skills in youth sport coaches. J. Sport Psychol. 1: 59-75.
43. Standage M. Duda J.L. Ntoumanis N. (2003) Predicting motivational regulations in physical education: the interplay between dispositional goal orientations motivational climate and perceived competence. J. Sports Sci. 21: 631-647. DOI: 10.1080/0264041031000101962.
44. Standage M. Duda J.L. Ntoumanis N. (2005) A test of self‐determination theory in school physical education. Br. J. Educ. Psychol. 75: 411-433. DOI: 10.1348/000709904X22359.
45. Stice E. Hayward C. Cameron R.P. Killen J.D. Taylor C.B. (2000) Body-image and eating disturbances predict onset of depression among female adolescents: a longitudinal study. J. Abnorm. Psychol. 109: 438-444. DOI: 10.1037/0021-843X.109.3.438.
46. Taliaferro L.A. Rienzo B.A. Pigg R.M. Miller M.D. (2009) Associations between physical activity and reduced rates of hopelessness depression and suicidal behavior among college students. J. ACH. 57: 427-436. DOI: 10.3200/JACH.57.4.427-436.
47. Telama R. Yang X. Viikari J. Välimäki I. Wanne O. Raitakari O. (2005) Physical activity from childhood to adulthood: a 21-year tracking study. Am. J. Prev. Med. 28: 267-273. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2004.12.003.
48. Thune I. Furberg A.S. (2001) Physical activity and cancer risk: dose-response and cancer all sites and sitespecific. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 33: S530-S550. DOI: 10.1097/00005768-200106001-00025.
49. VanKim N.A. Nelson T.F. (2013) Vigorous physical activity mental health perceived stress and socializing among college students. Am. J. Health Promot. 28: 7-15. DOI:10.4278/ajhp.111101-QUAN-395.
50. Wallace L.S. Buckworth J. Kirby T.E. Sherman W.M. (2000) Characteristics of exercise behavior among college students: Application of social cognitive theory to predicting stage of change. Prev. Med. 31: 494-505. DOI: 10.1006/pmed.2000.0736.
51. Walling M.D. Duda J.L. Chi L. (1993) The perceived motivational climate in sport questionnaire: Construct and predictive validity. J. Sport Exerc. Psychol. 15: 172-183.