Effects of a Sport Education Curriculum Model on the Experiences of Students with Visual Impairments

Palaestra, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Effects of a Sport Education Curriculum Model on the Experiences of Students with Visual Impairments


Many authors have written of the potential benefits to young people from participation in sports. These benefits range from opportunities to improve fitness and sport skills, to more social goals such as increases in self-esteem and social skills, as well as the potential to build friendships (Auxter, Pyfer, & Huettig, 1997; Blinde & McClung, 1997; Jansma & French, 1994). Engagement opportunities in sport and physical education are particularly limited for individuals with visual impairments (Lieberman & Houston-Wilson, 1999; Ponchillia, 1995). These limitations in sport and physical education are due to lack of training for those teaching students with visual impairments; curriculums, activities, and pace of lessons that are not conducive to independent participation; physical educators' overprotective and discouraging attitudes and fears about the safety of students with visual impairments; and priority placed on other specialized services or academics rather than physical education (Lieberman & Houston-Wilson, 1999; Lieberman, Houston-Wilson, & Kozub, 2002; McHugh & Pyfer, 1999; Suvak, 2004; Winnick, 1985).

Another suggested barrier to participation in sports by young people with visual impairments is a self-imposed barrier, one brought about by a lack of knowledge, fear, and self-confidence (Ponchillia, 1995). Barriers to participation in physical activities expressed by students with visual impairments include: lack of available activities, being made fun of by peers, not understanding what to do, and not having someone with whom to participate (Stuart, Lieberman, & Hand, 2006).

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Physical education, for some students with visual impairments, may be their initial exposure to physical activities and physical fitness (Stuart et al., 2006). According to Craft (1986), physical education can facilitate the development and improvement of physical fitness, psychomotor abilities, daily living skills, and orientation and mobility skills of students with visual impairments. Moreover, participation in physical education and school activities positively affects participation of athletes with visual impairments in sports, as shown by continued participation (Ponchillia, Strause, & Ponchillia, 2002). Other opportunities for individuals with visual impairments to experience physical activities, develop skills, and meet others with visual impairments may be available at summer camps (Goodwin & Staples, 2005).

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Sport Education is a curriculum and instruction model designed to provide authentic sport experiences for all students through six key features. These include: seasons, team affiliation, formal competition, record keeping, festivity, and culminating events (Siedentop, 1994). Sport Education has proven successful in increasing engagement, effort, enjoyment, independence, motivation, physical skill, decision-making, tactical understanding, and cooperative behaviors of students without disabilities (Wallhead & O'Sullivan, 2005). Although these increases are evident as examined through race, gender, socioeconomic status, and age, to date no research has examined the impact Sport Education has on students with disabilities. As a result, it was the purpose of this study to determine the effects of a Sport Education curriculum on the experiences of individuals with visual impairments attending a sports camp.

Method

Participants

The participants in this study were 28 individuals with visual impairments (17 boys, 11 girls, mean age 14.75) who attended a one-week sports camp during the summer of 2006. According to the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), athletes with visual impairments are classified in one of three categories: B1--no functional vision; B2--visual acuity of 20/600 or visual field of less than 5 degrees; and B3--visual acuity of 20/200-20/600, or a visual field of 5-20 degrees (United States Associate of Blind Athletes, 2007). …

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