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Kinesiology Students’ Experiences in a Service-Learning Project for Children With Disabilities

José A. Santiago, Minhyun Kim, Erica Pasquini, Emily A. Roper


Service-learning (SL) has become a popular teaching strategy to work with individuals with disabilities in adapted physical education/ physical activity (APE/APA) courses. Despite the increasing popularity of the use of SL in APE/APA courses, little is known about kinesiology students’ experiences in these contexts. This study examined kinesiology students’ experiences in an SL project for children with disabilities. Thirty-three undergraduate kinesiology students who were enrolled in an APE course participated in an SL project in which they provided children with disabilities with individualized and developmentally appropriate physical activity. Data were collected from a post-SL project reflection essay. Each reflection essay was evaluated via a directed approach to qualitative content analysis. Five main themes emerged from the data: (a) contact and prior experience, (b) personal growth and academic learning, (c) future career aspirations, (d) biased language, and (e) recommendations for APE SL. The results of this study provide several implications for the design and structure of SL projects in APE/ APA courses.

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service-learning; reflection; adapted physical education; disabilities

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