The purpose of this study was to describe the meaning of help in physical education as perceived by students with physical disabilities. The experiences of early, middle, and late elementary school aged students (n = 12) were captured using the phenomenological methods of individual and focus group interviews, field notes, and visual artifacts. The thematic analysis revealed that interactions were perceived as self-supporting or self-threatening. Self-supporting behaviors were instrumental, caring, or consensual in form, while self-threatening behaviors resulted in a loss of independence, concerns for self-esteem, or restricted participation. Participant responses to the helping behaviors became more complex with age. Instrumental and caring assistance emerged across all groups as did loss of independence and concerns for self-esteem. The older participants experienced restricted participation and consensual help. The implications of helping behavior on motivation and dependency states are discussed within the framework of threat to self-esteem theory.
Jennifer Leo and Donna Goodwin
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
The purpose of this interpretative phenomenological analysis study was to explore the meaning persons who experience disability ascribed to disability simulations as a pedagogical tool. Reflective writing, one-on-one interviews, and field notes were used to gather information on disability simulation use in a required postsecondary kinesiology course. Seven people who use wheelchairs full time (3 men, 4 women), ranging in age from 28 to 44 yr (average age = 36) shared their perspectives. The thematic analysis revealed 3 themes. The theme “Disability Mentors Required” revealed the participants’ collective questioning of their absence from the design and implementation of disability simulations. “Life Is Not a Simulation” illustrated the juxtaposition of disability reality and disability simulations. “Why Are They Laughing?” contrasted the use of fun as a strategy to engage students against the risk of distracting them from deeper reflection. Through the lens of ableism, the importance of disability representation in the development and implementation of disability simulations was affirmed as a means to deepen pedagogical reflexiveness of their intended use.
Donna L. Goodwin and Kerri Staples
The purpose of the study was to capture the meaning of segregated summer camp experiences to youths with disabilities. The experiences of nine youths with physical, sensory, or behavioral disabilities between the ages of 14 and 19 were captured using the phenomenological methods of semistructured interviews, document review, and field notes. Mothers’ perceptions were also gathered. The thematic analysis revealed three themes: not alone, independence, and a chance to discover. Camp experiences provided a reprieve from perceptions of disability isolation often felt in their home communities. The campers experienced increased self-reliance, independence, and new understandings of their physical potential. The findings are discussed within the context of identity development and therapeutic landscapes.
Amanda Ebert and Donna L. Goodwin
Adapted physical activity (APA) practitioners are encouraged to be reflexive practitioners, yet little is known about the moral dilemmas faced as they instruct inclusive physical activity or fitness programs. Professional landscape tensions may arise when diverse organizational demands, policies, traditions, and values merge. The study purpose was to explore how APA professionals experience and resolve moral discomfort in professional practice. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, seven APA professionals completed one-on-one semistructured interviews. The conceptual framework of relational ethics facilitated deep engagement with the professionals’ stories of navigating the ethical minefields of their practice. Four themes were developed from the thematic interpretative phenomenological analysis: The ass(et) of vulnerability, Friends or friendly? “We are fucked either way,” and Now what? Grappling with discomfort. The moral discomfort and strategies for resolution described by APA professionals highlighted the need for judgment-free pedagogical spaces where taken-for-granted practices can be contemplated and discussed.
Donna L. Goodwin and Amanda Ebert
Locating suitable, inclusive community physical activity programs for disabled children can be challenging for parents. The aim of this study was to uncover everyday hidden labor experienced by parents, as they sought inclusive physical activity opportunities for their children. Focus group interviews with eight families of youth aged 13–19 years were completed using an interpretative phenomenological case study research approach. Four themes, interpreted through the framework of relational ethics, captured their experiences: (a) inclusion is immensely effortful; (b) judged by their impairments, not their possibilities; (c) ongoing education needed to open doors and sustain participation; and (d) the guilt of staying home. Reliance on hidden parental labor highlighted an exclusion agenda in community, accentuated by ableist belief systems.
Lorraine Y. Morphy and Donna Goodwin
This exploratory study described the experiences of choice in physical activity contexts for adults with mobility impairments. The experiences of 3 female and 2 males with mobility impairments between 18 and 23 years of age were described using the interpretive phenomenological methods of individual interviews, written stories, and field notes. Thematic analysis revealed three themes: (a) interpreting the setting described participants’ interpretation of the environment, person, and task when making movement choices; (b) alternative selection described how participants actively engaged in analyzing alternatives and choosing among them; and (c) implications of choices made described participants’ evaluations of good and bad choices and what was learned. Evidence of effective choice making among adults with physical impairments suggests the potential efficacy of ecological task analysis as a pedagogical tool in physical activity contexts.
Jihoun An and Donna L. Goodwin
This study described the meaning 7 mothers of children with spina bifida ascribed to their children’s physical education, the mothers’ roles in the schools, and the importance of the IEP in home and school communication. The stories of 4 mothers of elementary and 3 mothers of secondary aged children were gathered using the phenomenological methods of semistructured interviews, artifacts, and field notes. The thematic analysis revealed three themes: a good thing but …, connection to sports, and beyond the curriculum. The mothers valued their children’s participation in physical education and provided instrumental support to teachers and teaching associates. They also valued sport as an avenue for developing sport specific skills, which in turn enriched the school experience. The findings are discussed within the context of Peters’ (1996) model of disablement.
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.
Brenda Rossow-Kimball and Donna Goodwin
This phenomenological case study examined the leisure experiences of five women with intellectual disabilities (ages 44–60) in two group homes. Using participant observation, artifacts, and semistructured interviews, the nature of the women’s leisure experiences were understood within the conceptual framework of self-determination. Five staff members were also interviewed to further contextualize the women’s leisure experiences. Thematic analysis revealed three main themes: leisure at home, leisure in the community, and leisure with family and friends. Leisure was experienced differently in each group home, largely due to staff-created input into leisure choices. In one group home, leisure was supervised; in the other, independent leisure was encouraged. The study highlights the importance of promoting self-determined leisure for those approaching retirement age.