Community college physical education faculty perspectives about teaching students with physical disabilities

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Richard L. Steele (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Pam Brown

Abstract: Higher education physical education programs and courses are in a unique position to help all students, including those with disabilities, meet the recommended levels of physical activity (Stapleton, Taliaferro, & Bulger, 2017). Since promoting physical activity alongside able bodied peers may also have profound social benefits for college students with physical disabilities (SPD) (Devine, 2016; Dysterheft, Lindahl-Lewis, Hubbard, Jones, Rice, and Rice, 2016), disability inclusion should be addressed in these courses. Unfortunately, major barriers to successful disability inclusion may exist if instructors do not have adequate disability-related training or if courses limit participation (Braga, Tracy, & Taliaferro, 2015). There is also limited information on the extent to which physical education programs are meeting the needs of these students at any level of higher education (Allar, Baek, & Taliaferro, 2014). To begin addressing this gap, the purpose of this study was to explore how physical education faculty perceive physical disability inclusion within courses offered by a large Mid-Atlantic community college system. This was accomplished using a mixed-methods approach that included surveying faculty (n = 26) about their attitudes, classroom experiences, prior training, and professional experience specific to SPD. Interviews were conducted with faculty (n = 3) to gain additional information regarding their perceived barriers to course participation for SPD and the types of resources and practices they use to provide inclusive physical education. The website for each participating college also was reviewed for publicly available information on disability accommodations to examine if the school’s policies and accommodations process make specific mention of physical education courses. Results showed that 88.5% of survey respondents believed they had a critical role in providing accommodation for SPD in their courses, 65.4% used a variety of course modifications to meet the needs of SPD, and 42.3% believed physical activity courses could have added social and psychological benefits for SPD. However, many respondents (57.7%) reported that they have never completed disability accommodation training, may not understand legal definitions of physical disability (50%), and described issues with accessibility and/or lack of adapted equipment at their college (23%). Interviews supported results from the survey, with faculty suggesting their colleges lacked accessibility and adapted equipment. Each interviewee also provided insight into resources and teaching practices that can be used to promote physical disability inclusion (e.g. chair yoga) and perceived that accommodations documents provided by their college did not include necessary information to properly modify physical activity for SPD. Further, the review of online policies did not provide specific information to guide faculty in making accommodations in physical education courses. These findings suggest faculty have positive attitudes toward teaching SPD, but there are potential environmental and policy barrier to the successful inclusion of SPD in these community college physical education courses. To overcome these barriers, faculty need training on disability accommodations and strategies to promote inclusive physical education practices.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
College Students, Community College, Disability Inclusion, Physical Disabilities, Physical Education, Universal Design for Instruction
Physical education and training $x Study and teaching (Higher)
Physical education for people with disabilities
Community college teachers $x Attitudes

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