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Are Preservice Adapted Physical Education Teachers Facilitating Peer Engagement and Social Communication?

Melissa Bittner, Belinda Daughrity, Alaine Ocampo, Barry Lavay, Andrew Le


Speech language pathologists (SLPs) and adapted physical education (APE) professionals working in schools have a distinct opportunity to collaborate to best serve students with communication and movement needs. The purpose of this study was to improve preservice APE teachers’ ability to encourage peer engagement and social communication in tasks related to physical activity for children with disabilities. Convenience sampling was used to recruit 23 preservice APE teachers. The Researcher on Camp Nugget Preservice Teacher Checklist was used to determine treatment fidelity by evaluating the quantity and quality of peer engagement opportunities facilitated by the study participants. Participants engaged in a one-hour in-service training led by SLPs to help readily identify peer engagement states and recognize opportunities to promote peer engagement within existing tasks. Following the training, participants received four (non-consecutive) days of live coaching on promoting peer engagement within the natural context. Results of observer ratings were significant in all four questions related to APE preservice teachers facilitating peer engagement and social interaction (p < .001). Results indicate a one-hour in-service with four live trainings from SLPs to APE preservice teachers can have a positive impact to better recognize and support opportunities for peer engagement for children with disabilities while targeting tasks related to their discipline. Future research is warranted to better elucidate natural opportunities for collaboration and to foster peer engagement in order to promote optimal outcomes for children with disabilities who present with challenges across disciplines.

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Invasion games; disabilities; wheelchair; contact theory; reverse inclusion; teaching games for understanding (TGFU)

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