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  • Ziwei Yin

Psychological need frustration and school achievement in PE among Chinese high school students

Author: Ziwei Yin

The aim of the present study was to investigate how Chinese high school students' psychological needs frustration in physical education courses relates to their school achievement, which was reflected by changes in physical fitness test results. According to the concept of Self-Determination Theory (SDT), humans have three fundamental needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Previous studies have shown that satisfying psychological needs leads to positive outcomes, while thwarting psychological needs causes negative outcomes. This research links Chinese high school students' psychological needs frustration to their school achievement within the PE context, which was conducted to assess the stability of school achievement in physical tests over time for students with different levels of needs frustration.

518 students (274 male, 244 female) from three Senior High Schools in Beijing

completed an online questionnaire during school days. The Two-Step Cluster Analysis in

SPSS was used to group students into homogeneous clusters based on their scores for

psychological needs thwarting. A mixed analysis of variance (ANOVA) was carried

out to measure the between-group and within-group differences.

Three distinct psychological needs profiles were identified: high frustration (20.3%),

moderate frustration (54.6%), and low frustration (25.1%). For school achievement, it

was discovered that students who reported high levels of frustration received the lowest

grades in both high school entrance exams and current exams, whereas those who

reported low levels of frustration received the highest grades. The mixed ANOVA

results showed a statistically significant difference in physical test scores between

entrance exams and current exams, indicating a decline in physical performance over

time across all three identified profiles. Overall, this study contributes to our

understanding of the complex interplay between psychological needs fulfilment and

academic performance, which could inform future research and interventions in this


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The full thesis can be found here


Ziwei Yin has recently graduated from the masters program in Changing Education, at the faculty of education.

Key Words: Master's Thesis, Physical Education, School Achievement, Psychological Need Frustration


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