A qualitative study of pre-service teachers’ experienced benefits and concerns of using motivational interaction in practice after a training course

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Despite its positive effects on physical activity promotion, motivational style of interaction by health professionals is not easily taken up, as shown by meta-analyses of training courses. The concerns professionals experience for taking up the novel skills remain an open question. Preservice physical education teachers were offered a 16-hour training course on motivational interaction, an approach to teacher-student interaction based on the synthesis of self-determination theory and motivational interviewing. This study investigates what benefits and concerns pre-service PE teachers’ experience when trying to adopt this new style of interaction and use its specific techniques. Individual interviews (N=19) of pre-service PE teachers were conducted after the training course. Narrative approach was first used to analyze participants’ experiences of using motivational interaction. Two types of storylines emerged, one enthusiastic and optimistic and the other one partly reluctant. Concerns and benefits of using specific techniques were then selected as suitable units of analysis and inductive content analysis was employed to further analyze the units. The analysis process included open coding, creating categories, and abstraction. Participants described positive professional transformation through learning motivational interaction. Expressed benefits included reducing conflicts and developing good relationships. Participants also voiced concerns that were grouped under four categories: (1) problems in delivering the techniques in group situations, (2) mismatch with professional role demands, (3) undesired effects on personal interaction, and (4) target behaviour (technique-) related concerns. These overarching categories covered a variety of concerns e.g., losing control of situations, and the challenge of allocating time and feedback equally among students. To successfully uptake style and techniques of motivational interaction, pre-service teachers may have to re-evaluate their role and the power relations within the target group. Utilizing the Theoretical Framework of Acceptability, we discuss how interaction trainings can address experienced concerns in order to improve the delivery, effectiveness, and acceptability of such training programs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number458
JournalHumanities and Social Sciences Communications
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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