Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Kinesiology

Document Type



Team cohesion is critical to the functioning and success of groups or teams. Sport Education (SE) has the potential to develop team cohesion due to its emphasis on authentic, team-based sporting experiences in physical education (PE). The purposes of the study were: (a) to examine the longitudinal changes of team cohesion within a SE season; (b) to identify facilitators and barriers associated with cohesion development. A longitudinal, concurrent, mixed-methods design was employed to address the research purposes. Students from 6th to 8th grades (all girls; n = 76), in small teams (n = 15), and their PE teacher from one convenience private school in a southern United States state participated in this study. All students completed the Youth Sport Environment Questionnaire, to quantitatively measure team cohesion across three time points (early-, mid-, and late-season). Regular field observations, focus group interviews with students, and individual interviews with student leaders and the PE teacher were conducted to capture the facilitators and barriers underlying team cohesion development throughout the SE season. Inferential statistical analyses (e.g., MANOVA, ANOVA) were conducted to investigate the time (early-, mid-, and late-season) and group (effective leadership vs. less-effective leadership) effect for team cohesion. Qualitative data were analyzed to characterize the facilitators and barriers underling team cohesion development. The findings showed that cohesion development did not show the hypothesized growth but was moderated by student leadership. Qualitative data from multiple methods and sources identified seven facilitators (e.g., positive interaction between teammates, student leadership) and seven barriers (e.g., less-effective student leadership, lack of opportunity to play) contributing or hampering cohesion development. The findings are informative for future SE-based curricular and instructional practices to nurture team cohesion.

Committee Chair

Chen, Senlin