The effects of an experiential adapted fitness course on students’ attitudes toward adults with intellectual disabilities

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Amanda H. Durall (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Diane Gill

Abstract: Experiential learning is a valuable teaching tool that provides unique, hands-on learning opportunities for exercise science students and prepares them to work with individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) in their future profession. Adequate recreational physical activity (PA) is a critical component of improving the overall health in this population, as approximately half of adults with disabilities are physically inactive (Carroll et. al, 2014). The purpose of this study was to design and implement an experiential course in which undergraduate allied health students work with adults with ID, and to subsequently determine the effects of the course on students’ attitudes and overall confidence in their work. This was achieved through the development of a partnership with a local disability center in which 12 students designed and implemented a 10-week, play-based recreation program for adults with ID. Student attitudes toward adults with ID were assessed pre-, mid-, and post-course. Self-scored confidence levels were also assessed. This mixed methods study integrated survey responses with focus group and written reflection data to examine student attitudes. Themes of professional skills, program challenges, and ancillary benefits emerged. Results indicated that students left the course with improved confidence in communicating with adults with ID as well as leading them in PA. Further research is warranted to investigate the lasting effects of experiential learning on student attitudes in other health related disciplines, as well as in clinical graduate programs.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Exercise science, Experiential learning, Intellectual disabilities, Kinesiology, Physical activity
Physical education for people with mental disabilities
Exercise $x Study and teaching (Higher)
College students $x Attitudes
Experiential learning

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