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Pedagogical Reflections on the Use of Disability Simulations in Higher Education

Jennifer Leo and Donna L. Goodwin

Disability simulations have been used to provide postsecondary students with experiential learning opportunities in many disciplines including physical education. Critics (French, 1992) suggest that it is not possible to simulate disability experience and therefore question their efficacy. The purpose of this study was to interpret the meanings given to disability simulations by undergraduate students in physical education. A narrative research approach was employed to collect disability simulation stories from a convenience sample of 57 undergraduate students (41 female, 16 male) in a required physical education course. Their hand-written stories were transcribed and analyzed thematically to reveal three themes; thank goodness I don’t have a disability, I see things differently now, and I’m just not sure about all of this. The findings suggested that disability simulations may result in varied learning outcomes, including those which are unintended. Future research into the efficacy of disability simulations as a pedagogical tool is warranted.