Teaching Students with Mild Disabilities: What Affects Attitudes of Future Physical Educators?

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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This study assessed the association between demographic attributes (gender, age, year in school, experience with students with disabilities, perceived competence in teaching students with disabilities, and academic preparation regarding individuals with disabilities) of undergraduate physical education majors and their attitudes toward teaching students labeled educable mentally retarded (EMR), learning disabled (LD), and behaviorally disordered (BD). Future physical educators (n = 226) were asked to complete the Physical Educators’ Attitudes Toward Teaching the Handicapped questionnaire, and 174 (77%) agreed. Data were collected on the first day of classes of a 16-week semester. Results from forward stepwise multiple-regression procedures showed that perceived competence and academic preparation regarding individuals with disabilities were the best predictors of favorable attitudes in general, and for EMR and LD. Results also showed that for BD, age and year in school were the best predictors of favorable attitudes. Thus, attitudes vary as a function of disabling conditions. The results provide evidence that there is a need to promote positive attitudes toward teaching individuals with disabilities.

Terry L. Rizzo is with the Department of Physical Education, 235 University Hall, California State University, San Bernardino, 5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407-2397. Don R. Kirkendall is with the Department of Physical Education, SUNY College at Cortland, Cortland, NY 13045.

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