Shifting Preservice Teachers’ Perceptions of Impairment through Disability-Related Simulations


  • Scott Douglas
  • Jennifer M. Krause
  • Hillary M. Franks


Perceptions of disability, teacher education and development, narrative, physical education, adapted physical education


Simulation of disability has been used as a pedagogical tool to provide preservice teachers in physical education with opportunities for experiential learning (Leo & Goodwin, 2013). Disagreement exists, however, about their effectiveness and authenticity in simulating the experience of having a disability (French, 1992). The purpose of the current study was to explore the meaning that disability-related simulations had on preservice teachers’ perceptions of individuals with disabilities and to what extent these experiences changed their beliefs and values about teaching students with disabilities in physical education. A narrative research approach was utilized to collect stories from a convenience sample of 10 preservice physical education teachers (two female and eight male) enrolled in a required undergraduate adapted physical education (APE) class. Data from reflective participant narratives and a semi-structured focus-group interview were collected, transcribed and thematically analyzed to reveal five themes: perceived treatment, mobility challenges, meta-perceptions, changes in perceptions of impairment, and future impact on teaching students with disabilities. The findings present profiles of preservice teachers’ perceptions of disability and learning outcomes, and highlight the potential impact disability-related simulations can have for preservice teachers to gain empathy for impairment, and the resulting development of more thoughtful approaches to teaching students with disabilities in physical education. 

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