Models to Guide Professional Preparation in Adapted Physical Activity: Beliefs Affecting Service Delivery

By Sherrill, Claudine | Palaestra, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Models to Guide Professional Preparation in Adapted Physical Activity: Beliefs Affecting Service Delivery


Sherrill, Claudine, Palaestra


Adapted physical activity programming; service delivery; and professional preparation in physical education, recreation, and sport are profoundly affected by beliefs each of us holds about disability and individual differences. Most of these beliefs are acquired haphazardly through life experiences from ages 3 to 18 rather than through formal instruction and guided practice in critical thinking and inclusive behaving. Research indicates that beliefs (both conscious and unconscious) are extremely difficult to change in adulthood (see literature review in Matanin & Collier, 2003). Thus far, adapted physical activity research has focused more on measurement of beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors than on the process of change (e.g., Place & Hodge, 2001; Suomi, Collier, & Brown, 2003; Verderber, Rizzo, & Sherrill, 2003).

The sparse research that has examined change indicates that an adapted physical activity classroom and practicum involvement have little impact on beliefs and attitudes about inclusion (Hodge, Davis, Woodward, & Sherrill, 2002). The purpose of this article is to propose the use of three models in preservice and inservice professional preparation to guide formal instruction in critical thinking and inclusive behaving in regard to disability and individual differences.

Figure 1 presents three models, each reflecting a particular philosophy in relation to (1) definition of disability, (2) perception of disability identity, (3) use of terminology, (4) basis for service delivery, (5) purpose of service delivery, and (6) appropriate symbols. Each of these models is in use today, and each has many names.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Categorical, Deficit, or Medical Model

The categorical, deficit, or medical model continues to dominate professional preparation in physical education, recreation, and sport despite the fact that Julian U. Stein (1973) and other leaders rejected this approach and called for generic or competency-based professional preparation in the early 1970s. Originally, this was called the medical or deficit model and referred to coursework that loosely followed medical school training: test, assess, prescribe, treat. Physical education and recreation pioneers changed the concept of treat to educate (i.e., physical education or leisure education); created the acronym TAPE (test, assess, prescribe, educate); and strove to create personnel preparation programs that would enable professionals to remediate or ameliorate conditions associated with specific disability categories established by Public Law 94-142. The name of the model changed from medical to categorical, but underlying assumptions regarding disability remained much the same, and service delivery was conceptualized primarily as separate rather than inclusive (see Figure 1).

Social Minority or Disability Rights Model

The social minority or disability rights model evolved in the 1970s when persons with disabilities began to bond, unite, and demand social justice, including a voice in affairs that affected their quality of life (Charlton, 1998; Shapiro, 1993). Fuelled by the World Health Organization's declaration of 1981 as the International Year of the Disabled, leaders worldwide agreed on the slogan, "Nothing about Us Without Us." Today, the social minority model is advanced primarily by disability studies, an academic specialization driven by persons with disabilities who have authored textbooks, created university courses, and insisted that disability is socially constructed (Charlton, 1998; Davis, 1995; Mackelprang & Salsgiver, 1999; Oliver, 1990; Wendell, 1996).

The social minority model emphasizes that disability is NOT a defect to be corrected. Like ethnic groups and other minorities, disability is simply a difference that outsiders may perceive as bad. The problem to be addressed, therefore, is the perception of the outsider, not the difference in body structure or performance. …

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