High School Physical Education Teachers' Beliefs about Teaching Students with Mild to Severe Disabilities

Article excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to analyze high school physical education teachers' beliefs about teaching students" with disabilities in inclusive physical education. The participants (3 men, 2 women) were certified physical education teachers at four suburban high schools. The research method was descriptive-qualitative using a case study approach (Stake, 2000) situated in the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1985, 1991). Data sources were demographic questionnaires and focused interviews" (Yin, 2003). Interview data were analyzed using constant comparative method (Merriam, 1998) and uncovered four major recurrent themes, which were. (a) teaching practice troubled, (b) dependent self-efficacy, (c) contradictions, and (d) intrinsic motivates. The teachers desired more professional training geared specifically on teaching students with severe disabilities. emotional-behavioral disorders, hyperactivity, and attention deficits'. Implications are that school districts should do more to engage teachers in professional development training that focuses on effective strategies for teaching students' with disabilities in physical education.

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In the United States and elsewhere, there is increasing research focused on understanding how physical education teachers view, construct, and cope with inclusive programming (Grenier, 2006). In Ohio, for example, LaMaster, Gall, Kinchin, and Siedentop (1998) studied elementary physical education teachers' beliefs on inclusion and student outcomes. They found that the teachers (a) exhibited multiple teaching styles, (b) had concerns about student outcomes, (c) expressed frustrations, and (d) varied in their inclusion practices. They also reported that the teachers had received insufficient support and some believed they were inadequately prepared to teach students with various disabilities in inclusive physical education classes.

Along similar lines, Hodge, Ammah, Casebolt, LaMaster, and O'Sullivan (2004) analyzed physical education teachers' behaviors and beliefs in teaching students with disabilities at suburban high schools in California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The teachers regularly verbally interacted with and expressed unfavorable or ambivalent to mostly positive beliefs toward teaching students with disabilities. The teachers: (a) were positively disposed to inclusion as an educational philosophy, (b) had differential efficacy in achieving successful inclusion, and (c) encountered challenges to establishing inclusive practice. In spite of their mostly positive beliefs about inclusion, several teachers felt inadequately prepared or lacked support and resources to effectively teach students with severe disabilities. Similar findings have been reported in this area of inquiry (Ammah & Hodge, 2005; Sato, Hodge, Murata, & Maeda, 2007).

Recently, Grenier (2006) explored, from a social constructionist perspective, relationships that existed between a teacher in a small New England town (US) and her students in an inclusive elementary physical education class containing a child with severe cerebral palsy and a visual impairment. This experienced teacher believed in the development of social skills for all students and used curricular adaptations and other strategies to accommodate students with disabilities. Moreover, student learning was shaped by personal experiences between students without disabilities and their peer with severe disabilities. This study provides evidence that inclusive classes can be success-oriented places for both students with and without disabilities.

It is likely that with continuing advocacy for inclusion there will be increased opportunities for teachers to teach students with disabilities. Moreover, the beliefs of physical education teachers are important because what they believe influence their practices (Hodge et al., 2004). These issues are important to all who are committed to ensuring equitable and successful physical education experiences for all students. …