Students with disabilities engage in significantly less physical activity than their nondisabled peers do. Attitudes can influence whether or not a student will regularly engage in and continue participation in physical activities. Researchers have examined the attitudes of students toward physical education and activity for the effects of gender, grade, and skills levels. There is a gap in the literature with respect to examining the attitudes of students with high incidence disabilities such as learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities, or attention difficulties. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to establish the degree to which differences in attitude toward physical education exist between groups of middle school students with and without high incidence disabilities and to investigate the insights and experiences of participants to help define factors that influence their attitudes. In Phase 1, quantitative data were collected through a survey of 134 randomly selected middle school students with and without disabilities attending public schools in northern Wisconsin and analyzed using descriptive statistics and the Mann-Whitney U Test. No statistically significant differences were noted in enjoyment (Z = -.958, p = .338) or perceived usefulness (Z = -1.667, p = .096) of physical education between students with and without disabilities. In Phase 2, 21 participants chosen from the quantitative phase shared their experiences and insights during personal interviews to help explain and expand upon data obtained during the quantitative phase. Interview data were examined for similarities and differences in factors influencing attitudes toward physical education and activity between groups of students with and without disabilities with very high and very low scores on the Student Attitude Towards Physical Activity Scale (SATPES). An analysis of interview data revealed themes substantiated in the extant literature: (a) teacher, (b) curriculum, (c) skill levels, and, (d) social opportunities. More similarities between groups of students with and without disabilities were noted than differences. Teachers have control over factors influencing student attitudes toward physical education. Improving student attitudes may result in continued participation in physical activity as well as increased academic performance and improved physical and mental health for all students.
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Middle School education, Physical education, Special education|
|Keywords:||Disabilities, Middle school, Physical education|
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