Experiential Learning Through a Physical Activity Program for Children With Disabilities

in Journal of Teaching in Physical Education
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  • 1 Northern Illinois University
  • 2 Ball state University
  • 3 Purdue University
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Service-learning has become a popular pedagogical tool to promote academic and civic learning. One form of service-learning provides physical activity for underrepresented community groups, including children with disabilities. Using experiential learning theory, the purpose of this descriptive case study was to evaluate college students’ experiences in a physical activity-based service learning program for children with disabilities. Through convenience sampling, 97 program participants (82 female, 15 male), most of whom were White (N = 85), were recruited for participation. Data included a pre- and postsurvey of civic learning, participant interviews, reflective journaling, and program observations. Qualitative data were analyzed using constant comparison and inductive analysis, and quantitative data were analyzed using Mixed ANOVAs. Results revealed that the program resulted in enhanced civic and academic learning. Themes included making a difference, academic and career connections, emotional and personal growth, and program reflection. Implications of the study and future directions for research are discussed.

R. Richards is with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Physical Education at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL. Eberline is with the School of Physical Education, Sport, and Exercise Science at Ball State University, Muncie, IN. Padaruth and Templin are with the Dept. of Health and Kinesiology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Address author correspondence to K. Andrew R. Richards at karichar@niu.edu.