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Negotiated Meanings of Disability Simulations in an Adapted Physical Activity Course: Learning From Student Reflections

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.

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Simulating Others’ Realities: Insiders Reflect on Disability Simulations

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.

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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.

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Understanding Dignity: Experiences of Impairment in an Exercise Facility

Keith R. Johnston, Donna L. Goodwin, and Jennifer Leo

Dignity, as an essential quality of being human, has been overlooked in exercise contexts. The aim of this interpretative phenomenological study was to understand the meaning of dignity and its importance to exercise participation. The experiences of 21 adults (11 women and 10 men) from 19 to 65 yr of age who experience disability, who attended a specialized community exercise facility, were gathered using the methods of focus-group and one-on-one interviews, visual images, and field notes. The thematic analysis revealed 4 themes: the comfort of feeling welcome, perceptions of otherness, negotiating public spaces, and lost autonomy. Dignity was subjectively understood and nurtured through the respect of others. Indignities occurred when enacted social and cultural norms brought dignity to consciousness through humiliation or removal of autonomy. The specialized exercise environment promoted self-worth and positive self-beliefs through shared life experiences and a norm of respect.

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Connecting Through Summer Camp: Youth With Visual Impairments Find a Sense of Community

Donna L. Goodwin, Lauren J. Lieberman, Keith Johnston, and Jennifer Leo

The social meaning of a one-week residential summer sports camp to young people with visual impairments is described. The experiences of 13 youths (7 females and 6 males) with visual impairments (3 B1, 1 B2, and 9 B3) between 9 and 15 years of age were gathered using the phenomenological methods of focus groups, conversational interviews, and field notes. The thematic analysis revealed three themes: connected, reaching out, and resisting and acquiescing. Experiences of group membership and shared emotional connection to others with visual impairments surfaced in a supportive sport context although resistance to others’ assumptions of ability was evident. The theory of psychological sense of community (McMillan & Chivas, 1986) provided the conceptual framework for interpreting the findings.

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Evidence-Informed Recommendations for Community-Based Organizations Developing Physical Activity Information Targeting Families of Children and Youth With Disabilities

Rebecca Bassett-Gunter, Jennifer Tomasone, Amy Latimer-Cheung, Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Katerina Disimino, Victoria Larocca, Lauren Tristani, Kathleen Martin Ginis, Jennifer Leo, Leigh Vanderloo, Dave Sora, and Archie Allison

Parents of children and youth with disabilities (CYD) have expressed unique physical activity (PA) information needs. Community-based organizations (CBOs) require assistance to meet these needs. Guided by the Appraisal of Guidelines, Research and Evaluation II, this project established evidence-informed recommendations for developing PA information targeting families of CYD. This process involved a systematic scoping review to inform draft recommendations (k = 23), which were revised via a consensus meeting with researchers, knowledge users from CBOs, and families of CYD. Broader consultation with CBO knowledge users informed the final recommendations (k = 5) that fit within the following categories: (a) language and definitions, (b) program information, (c) benefits of PA, (d) barriers to PA, and (e) PA ideas and self-regulation tools. CBOs are encouraged to consider these recommendations when developing PA information for families of CYD. Future research will focus on the development of knowledge products to disseminate the recommendations to CBOs and support implementation.