Teachers’ Perceptions, Teaching Practices, and Learning Opportunities for Inclusion
Lack of expertise of general physical educators relative to teaching students with disabilities in inclusive general physical education (GPE) has been identified as a major challenge affecting the implementation of inclusion in the United States (Block & Obrusnikova, 2007). Several studies indicated that insufficient inclusion training (Hodge, Ammah, Casebolt, LaMaster, & O’Sullivan, 2004; Lieberman, Houston-Wilson, & Kozub, 2002; Smith & Green, 2004) during teacher preparation resulted in teachers’ negative feelings toward inclusion. The current study was designed to explore GPE teachers’ views of teaching students with disabilities in their GPE classes to gain understanding of teachers’ teaching practices, learning, needs, and challenges. Specific research questions related to inclusion focused on teachers’ (a) perceptions, (b) teaching practices, (c) learning, and (d) needs related to teaching inclusive GPE classes. Data consisted of individual interviews, teachers’ artifacts, and researcher’s journals. Seven elementary physical educators, whose teaching experiences ranged from 8 to 16 years, participated. Data were analyzed using content and constant comparison. Trustworthiness was established through triangulation of the data, peer review and debriefing, and member checking. Four themes emerged: (a) dedication to inclusion, (b) necessity of adaptation, (c) experimental practices, and (d) challenges to inclusion. These findings are discussed in light of a pedagogical framework (Feiman-Nemser, 2001) that provides insights about the ongoing professional development needs of teachers. These findings suggest “coherent and connected learning opportunities” (Feiman-Nemser, 2001, p. 1048) are needed across teachers’ careers.
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