Negotiated Meanings of Disability Simulations in an Adapted Physical Activity Course: Learning From Student Reflections

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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  • 1 University of Alberta
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Disability simulations have been used as a pedagogical tool to simulate the functional and cultural experiences of disability. Despite their widespread application, disagreement about their ethical use, value, and efficacy persists. The purpose of this study was to understand how postsecondary kinesiology students experienced participation in disability simulations. An interpretative phenomenological approach guided the study’s collection of journal entries and clarifying one-on-one interviews with four female undergraduate students enrolled in a required adapted physical activity course. The data were analyzed thematically and interpreted using the conceptual framework of situated learning. Three themes transpired: unnerving visibility, negotiating environments differently, and tomorrow I’ll be fine. The students described emotional responses to the use of wheelchairs as disability artifacts, developed awareness of environmental barriers to culturally and socially normative activities, and moderated their discomfort with the knowledge they could end the simulation at any time.

Jennifer Leo and Donna Goodwin are on the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Jennifer Leo at
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