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Research and Practical Implications of Integrating Autobiographical Essays Into Physical Education Teacher Education

K. Andrew R. Richards, Karen Lux Gaudreault, and Wesley J. Wilson

The purpose of this research note is to introduce and overview both the teaching and research applications of autobiographical essay writing. Grounded in occupational socialization theory and teacher reflection, the authors propose that autobiography can be a powerful tool in helping preservice and in-service teachers more deeply reflect on their prior socialization experiences, which may help them to better understand and be willing to critique their personal belief structures. The authors provide an overview of how autobiographical essays have been used and include recommendations for teacher education practice. From a research perspective, the authors argue that autobiographical essays provide a targeted strategy for collecting reflective data on individuals’ background socialization experiences. Such data are critical for socialization scholars who are interested in understanding how teachers’ biographies influence their current teaching beliefs and practices. Applications for physical education-adjacent spaces, including doctoral education, adapted physical education, and elementary education, are also discussed.

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Pedagogical Practices Among Teachers of Different Demographics and Dispositions Toward Change: Results of a Multi-Region Survey of U.S. Physical Educators

Ben D. Kern, Wesley J. Wilson, Paul Malinowski, and Tristan Wallhead

Purpose: To examine the current pedagogical practices among physical educators with different dispositions toward the change process and belonging to different demographic categories. We hypothesized that change-disposed, nonchange-disposed, and neutral change disposition teachers, along with teachers of different gender identities and student grade level(s), implement “best practices” with differing frequencies. Methods: Eight hundred thirty U.S. physical educators completed the Teacher Change Questionnaire-Physical Education and a 15-item adaption of Society of Health and Physical Educators America’s 20 Indicators of Effective Physical Education Instruction. Results: Nonchange-disposed teachers more frequently provided objective-related feedback, provided assessment for differentiation and summative evaluation, ensured 50% student moderate to vigorous physical activity during physical education classes, and set student learning goals than change-disposed or neutral change disposition teachers. Female and elementary teachers reported more frequent use of written curriculum and assigned grades based on student knowledge/skill assessment than male and secondary counterparts. Discussion: Continuing professional development initiatives should be designed with consideration given to change disposition, gender identity, and grade level.

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Examining the Knowledge and Training of Secondary School Physical Educators Providing Strength and Conditioning Programming

Ben D. Kern, David Bellar, and Wesley J. Wilson

Purpose: The purpose was to examine secondary physical education teachers’ strength and conditioning (SC) knowledge and evaluate associations between SC teaching role, professional preparation, and development. Method: A knowledge survey was developed/validated and distributed to 2,189 middle/high school teachers, with 605 providing complete data. Results: Seventy-five percent of participants reported serving an SC-related teaching role, and mean SC knowledge was 6.77 correct out of 15 (45%). Participants with SC certification, who taught an SC unit/course, who supervised an SC sport program, and who taught in high school performed significantly better. Physical education teacher education preparation, including exercise physiology and weightlifting activity courses, was a significant predictor of SC knowledge. Professional development, such as SC online coursework, meeting with SC professionals, and reading SC publications, was also a significant predictor. Conclusion: To support physical education teachers’ SC knowledge, physical education teacher education programs should include SC-related course offerings, and school administrators should consider offering professional development to physical education teachers who serve in SC roles.

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Strength and Conditioning in U.S. Schools: A Qualitative Investigation of Physical Educators’ Socialization and Professional Experiences

Ben D. Kern, David Bellar, Wesley J. Wilson, and Samiyah Rasheed

Purpose: To examine socialization experiences of physical educators who deliver strength and conditioning (S&C) programming, particularly the development of subjective theories, expertise, orientations, and perceived mattering. Methods: Thirty-one secondary school physical educators providing S&C instruction/supervision as part of required duties completed in-depth interviews with Occupational Socialization Theory as a guiding framework for analysis. Results: Themes developed were (a) acculturation and organizational socialization influence beliefs, (b) S&C professional development is scarce, (c) S&C in physical education is a sporting endeavor, (d) blurred lines between teaching and coaching, and (e) S&C-related programs matter. Discussion: Physical educators delivering S&C programming lack adequate preservice preparation and professional development, and experience both role conflict and decreased marginalization. Physical education teacher education programs should offer more formal S&C training for safe and effective instruction/supervision. Schools should provide S&C-related professional development to maximize student learning and safety and avoid potential legal liability.

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Least Restrictive Environment Decision Making in Physical Education

Wesley J. Wilson, Luke E. Kelly, and Justin A. Haegele

Purpose: To examine how physical educators and adapted physical educators make decisions regarding the implementation of the least restrictive environment law and what factors influence those practices. Methods: This study utilized a descriptive survey design through an online platform. Participants included 78 teachers (30 physical educators and 48 adapted physical educators). Descriptive statistics and group comparisons through a multivariate analysis of variance were conducted. Results: A significant difference in the implementation of the law between physical educators and adapted physical educators was detected, F(44, 33) = 2.60, p = .003; Wilk’s Λ = .224, η p 2 = .78 . Adapted physical educators were more involved in making decisions regarding the individualized education program process and student placement. Access to qualified staff was reported as a major barrier to implementation. Discussion/Conclusion: The implementation of the least restrictive environment law and its barriers are discussed.

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Cocurricular Service-Learning Through a Camp for Athletes With Visual Impairments

Wesley J. Wilson, Justin A. Haegele, Steven K. Holland, and K. Andrew R. Richards

Service-learning (SL) has become popular as part of the formal curriculum and as cocurricular experiences for college students. Some SL programs serve individuals with disabilities, but their influence on college volunteers is not well understood. The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences and perspectives of preprofessional college students who volunteered at a cocurricular, SL-based sports camp for youth with visual impairments. Participants included nine (five males and four females) preservice professionals who taught youth with visual impairments during the week-long sports camp. Data were collected using semistructured and conversational interviews, reflective journaling, and participatory observations. Four themes were constructed: (a) camp experience elicited a strong emotional response, (b) fostering professional growth and development, (c) doing too much and expecting too little, and (d) developing close bonds with the athletes. This study highlights the benefits of developing cocurricular SL programs for college students across a variety of fields.

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Workplace Experiences of Adapted Physical Educators: A Comparison of Educators With and Without National Certification

Wesley J. Wilson, Steven K. Holland, Justin A. Haegele, and K. Andrew R. Richards

Purpose: To better understand the workplace experiences of adapted physical education teachers with particular attention given to differences between those with and without Adapted Physical Education National Standards certification. Role socialization theory was used as the theoretical framework to explore how teachers navigate the contexts of their work environment. Methods: The participants included a total of 233 adapted physical education teachers, 131 with certification and 102 without it. The participants completed an online survey examining marginalization and isolation, perceived mattering, role stress, resilience, job satisfaction, perceived organizational support, and emotional exhaustion. Results: Certified adapted physical educators perceived less marginalization and role ambiguity and more perceived mattering than their noncertified counterparts. Discussion/Conclusion: These findings are consistent with other research suggesting the positive association between workplace experiences and advanced certifications. As the requirements for certification continue to advance and change, this study highlights the need for the continued study of advanced certification.

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Barriers and Facilitators to Including Students With Down Syndrome in Integrated Physical Education: Chilean Physical Educators’ Perspectives

Luiz Gustavo Teixeira Fabricio dos Santos, Fabián Arroyo-Rojas, Sheyla Martinez Rivera, Luis Felipe Castelli Correia de Campos, Lindsey A. Nowland, Wesley J. Wilson, and Justin A. Haegele

The purpose of this study was to explore Chilean physical educators’ perspectives on barriers and facilitators to students with Down syndrome experiencing inclusion in integrated physical education. Data were collected from a cohort of 91 physical educators, comprising 50 males and 41 females from various regions in Chile, who responded to an online survey between March 2023 to June 2023. A two-step coding protocol was used to analyze responses. Cumulatively, the respondents identified 350 barriers (3.84 per participant) and 393 facilitators (4.32 per participant), which they perceived to influence feelings of inclusion among students with Down syndrome. Predominantly, factors that centered around teachers themselves were emphasized as both facilitators and barriers, as well as the role of a welcoming environment and supportive peers. This study, the first within the Chilean context, demonstrates that teachers believe that inclusiveness predominantly stems from educators’ initiatives, complemented by the surrounding environment and peer interactions.