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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Donna L. Goodwin, Robin Thurmeier and Paul Gustafson
The purpose of this study was to describe the metaphors of disability to which young people with physical disabilities felt they were exposed and the moderating influence of physical activity on the meanings ascribed to those metaphors. Fourteen participants (7 males, 7 females) with physical disabilities between the ages of 14 and 24 years participated in the study. Their experiences were captured by way of one-on-one audio taped semi-structured interviews and the use and interpretation of artifacts and field notes. Three themes emerged from the thematic analysis: don’t treat me differently, managing emotions, and physical activity balances perceptions. The implications of the findings are discussed within the context of stigma theory and the liminality of social indefinition.
Alison J. Jonzon and Donna L. Goodwin
The play experiences of daughters who were caregivers to their mothers with multiple sclerosis were described. The experiences of four Caucasian women aged 19–26 years were captured using the interpretive phenomenological methods of interviews, field notes, and artifacts. Family systems theory provided the conceptual framework for the study and facilitated the interpretation of the findings. The thematic analysis revealed three themes: (a) being a good daughter, (b) blurred relationship boundaries, and (c) encumbered play. Being a good daughter encompassed personal caregiving for their mothers. The associated guilt and worry was perceived to mature the participants beyond their years. Excessive caregiving exacerbated by limited social networks contributed to the blurring of mother-daughter relationships. Play, although restricted, provided a welcomed escape from caregiving responsibilities. Impoverished play experiences as caregivers were reported to negatively impact adult physical activity and recreation pursuits.
Bobbi-Jo Atchison and Donna L. Goodwin
Parents play an essential role in the transition from separate physical activity programs to inclusive settings for their children. The purpose of this study was to explore experiences of parents as they anticipate and prepare for their children experiencing disability to transition, understand strategies used to address transition, and gain insights into the supports important to families during transition. Using an interpretative phenomenological analysis research approach, semistructured one-on-one interviews were conducted with 8 parents whose children were undergoing the transition from separate to inclusive community fitness contexts. Four themes described the experiences of parents as they anticipated, prepared for, and supported their child to transition: My child may be ready, but I am not; fear of outside judgment; playing by their rules; and reframing our thinking. Using Schlossberg’s model, the tensions parents faced as they negotiated new roles, relationships, routines, and assumptions as they moved through the transition process were uncovered. The parents experienced transition alongside their children, providing insights for fitness and health-promotion professionals. Without preparation for transition, apprehensions and hesitancy may postpone or prevent their children’s transition to community programs.
Donna L. Goodwin and E. Jane Watkinson
The study describes the phenomenon of inclusive physical education from the perspective of students with disabilities. The experience of 9 elementary school-aged students with physical disabilities (6 males and 3 females with a mean age of 11 years, 1 month) was captured by way of focus group interviews, field notes, and participant drawings. The thematic analysis uncovered a persistent dichotomy in how the participants experienced physical education. Good days were revealed in the themes of sense of belonging, skillful participation, and sharing in the benefits. Bad days were overshadowed by negative feelings revealed in the themes of social isolation, questioned competence, and restricted participation. The students’ experiences were discussed within the conceptual framework of ecological perception and affordance theory (Gibson, 1977, 1979).