Nicole Bolter, assistant professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Kinesiology, and Audrey Coon, graduate student in Kinesiology, presented their research at the Western Society for the Physical Education of College Women Conference in Nov. 2014. Their presentation, titled “Predicting College Women Rowers’ Motivation and Persistence: A Self-Determination Theory Approach,” described the psychological and social-contextual factors that explain female college rowers’ motivation.
Opportunities for women rowers to participate at the college level have shown unprecedented growth since the passage of Title IX. To satisfy the increased demand for female athletes, college rowing teams often recruit athletes with no previous rowing experience. Despite efforts to provide participation opportunities for female student-athletes, many rowing programs experience significant decreases in participation. One way to understand these rowers’ attrition and participation is to consider their motivation. According to Self-Determination Theory, an athlete’s motivation is predicted by the satisfaction of their basic psychological needs and the influence of social-contextual factors.
Bolter and Coon asked college women rowers to complete an online survey at the end of their competitive season. Athletes answered questions about their motivation, basic needs satisfaction, coaching behaviors, and previous rowing experience. They found that psychological and social contextual factors explained 30 percent of athlete’s variance in intrinsic motivation, behavior that is driven by internal rewards, and 37 percent variance in amotivation, a state of lacking any motivation to engage in an activity characterized by a lack of perceived competence and/or failure to value the activity or its outcomes. Perceptions of autonomy and relatedness were significant predictors of intrinsic motivation, while autonomy and autonomy-support significantly predicted athletes’ amotivation.