Action Research in Physical Education

1 January 2017

With the adjustment of teaching, teachers can rethink teaching methods, the use of cooperative teaching approach to students with moderate to severe disabilities in general education more sports programs. Twenty-six regular students and six self-contained special education students were took part in this study ninety minutes per week. The researcher was based on TeeBall to design a series of physical education activities for regular students and multiple disabilities students, including hitting different kinds of balls, ball throwing, running, and et al.

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Video, photograph and group discussion were carried out to know the educational effects and help improving the educational qualities. The activities or procedure of physical education were adapted based on the responses of the students. In addition, increased and adjusted human resources in special education to help the progress of inclusive adapted physical education at school.

Overall, Adaptation of teaching methods can increase the regular class and special education students to participate in activities, and adapted physical education program should not focus only on the participation, but should also consider that student can have opportunity to establish sense of achievement and to obtain confidence. The activities should be interesting enough in order to increase the acceptance by peers for student with multiple disabilities. Finally, the sharing of practical experience through reflection can facilitate the teaching abilities in adapted physical education.

Keywords : nclusive physical education 2. modify teaching method 3. special education students Introduction In the last a number of decades, several countries have enacted legislation to increased inclusion of individuals with disabilities into classrooms, schools, and communities. There was a key point since 1975 when Public Law 94-142 mandated that students with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment, schools have been required to make placement decisions for children with disabilities that are inclusive, educating these children in their home communities with same-age peers whenever possible (Kamens, 2007).

Even though the term ‘inclusion’ appears nowhere in federal legislation governing the education of students with disabilities, it has been the subject of endless discussion (Friend, 2011). Friend thinks that inclusion is a belief system shared by every member of a school as a learning community about the responsibility of educating all students so that they reach their potential. That is to say, Inclusive education is not only an important issue and trend for all learners but also for teachers.

In spite of inclusive education movement, there are still a variety of students with moderate to severe physical or intellectual disabilities placed in self-contained classes for their school day (Block, Taliaferro, Campbell, Harris & Tipton, 2011). The researcher is a self-contained class special educator, who teaches in the elementary school, having some inclusion experience with general class. Students in a self-contained class are difficult to study with general students, especially in academic studying such as language, mathematics or science.

Although they rarely have opportunities to study in general classes due to cognitive disorders, most of them can participate in physical activities. Physical education offer vast opportunities for students to engage in activities and development at very different levels of ability. Many students who struggle with reading, writing, and mathematics, for example, will often excel in sports (Peterson & Hittie, 2010). In other words, physical education is a good way to conduct inclusive education for those students and must adjust the activities to match their variety of abilities. P. L. 4-142, Education for All Handicapped Children Act “identified physical education as a direct service required for students with disabilities” (Auxter, Pyfer, & Huettig, 2001, p. 12).

What is more, amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (Public Law 108–446, 2004) defined special education as … specifically designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including-instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings; and instruction in physical education.

Research had been shown that appropriate physical activity experiences improve one’s ability to learn (Changeux, 1997; Ericksson et al. , 1998; Mears, 2003; Van Praag, Kempermann, & Gage, 1999), whereas insufficient physical activity appears to limit one’s ability to learn (Howard, 2000; Mears, 2001). In addition, physical activity regulates the balance of neurotransmitters and hormones that enhance one’s ability to learn and lessens the need for chemical or drug intervention for attention disorder, depression, panic disorders, and many other personality/mental and behavior disorders (Jensen, 2000).

However, in many cases these students are not included in general physical education programs, and they receive their adapted physical education (APE) only with peers from theirself-contained class (Block, Taliaferro, Campbell, Harris & Tipton, 2011). Traditional physical education by definition is no different than adapted physical education, in which the primary focus is on offering an individualized developmentally appropriate education based on cognitive, motor, and personal–social development (Etzel-Wise & Mears, 2004).

Inclusive physical education means providing all students with disabilities the opportunities to participate in regular physical education with their peers, with supplementary aides and support services as needed to take full advantage of the goals of motor skill acquisition, fitness, knowledge of movement and psyco-social well-being, toward the outcome of preparing all students for an active lifestyle appropriate to their abilities and interests (Goodwin, Watkinson, & Fitzpatrick, 2003). Some esearchers have found that students with and without disabilities demonstrated favorable attitudes toward peers, coaches, and teachers as a result of inclusion (Obrusnikova, Valkova, & Block, 2003).

Children with disabilities will often demonstrate more confidence and increased active participation when their peers are also engaged in the same activity (Etzel-Wise & Mears, 2004). Moreover, when game are appropriately modified to create successful experience for all learners, students with and without disabilities are more receptive to accommodating students with disabilities (Kalyvas & Reid, 2003; Obrusnikova et al. 2003). Using peer tutors has also been determined to have a positive effect on students with disabilities who are included in general physical education.

Think that current educational reforms are challenging school systems in similar ways to make the general curriculum accessible to all learners. It is only when teachers are willing to plan ahead and analyze their curriculum, instruction, rules, equipment, and environment that children with disabilities will have a chance at full participation in general physical education (Lieberman & Houston-Wilson, 2009).

For students with significant disabilities, special educators may collaborate with physical therapists, general educators or adapted physical education teachers who may provide support in integrating students with special needs into the class, helping them improve physical functioning. Successful teaching frequently depends on the provision of appropriate support services. Support services might be quite varied and might involve teaching assistants, paraprofessionals, related service professionals, adapted physical educators, volunteers, students, and others (Winnick, 2011).

Hence, a co-teaching model allows general and special education teachers to share their skills and knowledge, to face difficulties and solve problems together enabling them to respond more effectively to the diverse needs of their students (Luckner, 1999), facilitate their access to learning (Jimenez-Sanchez & Antia, 1999; Kirchner, 1994), and as such promote ‘inclusive thinking’ (Argyropoulos & Nikolaraizi, 2009). Co-teaching is defined as when “ two or more professionals jointly deliver substantive instruction to a diverse, or blended, group of students in a single physical space” (Cook & Friend, 1995, p. ).

The practice provides teachers with an opportunity to share professional expertise each other. In most instances, general educators are considered masters of content, and special educators are viewed as masters of access (Villa, Thousand, & Nevin, 2008). It is beneficial to all learners, if we can come together dissimilar expertise and design activities to mach their abilities. A quality program in adapted physical education and sport depends to a great extent on the availability of quality human resources and the ability of involved personnel to perform effectively within a group.

To provide high-quality services for adapted physical education and sport, the teacher must work with various school and IEP committees (Winnick, 2011). Effective communication is key to navigating professional relationships, whether teachers are thrown together or have time to get to know each other (Sileo, 2011). In addition, teachers can involve students in developing adaptations to games that allow students with significant disabilities to participate (Peterson & Hittie, 2010). Sometimes activities or games must to adjust to meet students’ needs.

A good adaptation does the following: promotes interaction and interplay, meets the needs of all students in the class, improves or maintains self-esteem, provides physical activity, and provides a safe experience for all (Winnick, 2011). Modifications to conduct the adaptation of physical activities have been directly or indirectly categorized in many ways. Lieberman and Houston-Wilson (2009) suggest four modification areas for adapting activities: equipment, rules, environment, and instruction. Each modification area involves a change or variation so that students with unique needs might be better able to participate in skills or games.

Besides, the instruction or environmental cue is an event a learner responds to (Collier, 2011). Thus, when conducting inclusive physical education, there are many factors, such as class size, place, and time, must take into account. The educators of this study designed many Tee-ball related activities to achieve inclusive physical education. Tee Ball or T-Ball is a sport based on baseball and is intended as an introduction for children to develop baseball skills and have fun. The game is the entry sport to baseball and softball for young players, generally four to eight years old.

Members of two teams take turns hitting a ball off a batting tee set on home plate. Batters try to get on base and advance to home; fielders try to prevent that from happening. The elimination of pitching allows children to participate without the fear of being hit by a pitched ball. Tee ball develops the primary baseball skills of hitting, running, fielding and throwing. The players gain an understanding of the fundamental rules, which allows minimally competitive league play at all age levels (http://www. eeballusa. org).

The researcher and his colleagues used the rules of Chinese Taipei Happy Ball association to develop many related activities. At the same time, we adjusted many rules, material, and activities to meet students’ abilities, and mapped out different goals and objectives for general students and self-contained class students. For example, we may focus on stepping with opposite foot to shift weight, follow-through, be more forceful swing for students with moderate to severe disabilities.

Although there are many researchers, textbooks authors, and educational policy makers recommend co-teaching or modification may an inclusion strategy for students with disabilities, there is little research supporting these recommendations in physical education. The purpose of this study was to put into practice an inclusive physical education by adjusting a variety of teaching methods, so self-contained special education students and regular students can also join the general physical education.

The following research questions were explored: 1. How to design the inclusive physical education curricular or adjust the activities in order to meet all learners’ needs under co-teaching? What had been changed between general and self-contained students after participating in adapted physical education? Method The researcher used an action research design to examine how teachers collaborate with each other and find out how to modify the course for all learners.

Action research is a methodology that fulfills two important onditions; one is that it seeks the improvement of teachers’ practice in order to improve their students’ understanding, using any appropriate tool, and the other is that it seeks and understanding of the educational setting and context in general (Feldman & Minstrell, 2000; Kemmis & McTaggart, 1988). For the sake of this reason, the researcher believed that the framework of action research was the best choice to shape inclusive practice, in order to solve problems together enabling teachers to respond more effectively to the diverse needs of students.

According to Kemmis and McTaggart (1988) there is a group of four fundamental aspects in action research: planning, acting, observing and reflecting. They highlight the dynamic complementarity of the four aspects in action research which end up in a cycle, and ultimately in a spiral of such cycles (Argyropoulos & Nikolaraizi, 2009). These aspects were present in the project of the present study and converged to the fulfillment of the ultimate target of action research which is ‘change’. Participants

The researcher and his colleague invited a general class teacher at four grade and related personnel to join this project and organized a team to implement it. The collaborative action research group included 3 physical education teachers, 1 general class teacher, and 1 teaching assistant in the elementary school in Pidigan Central School. Two of three physical education teachers have dual certification (i. e. , general elementary education and special education), and the researcher (also have dual certification) had teaching experience in general class.

Participation was voluntary. The cooperating teachers that participated in this project were 3 female and 2 male, with an average of 8. 5 years of teaching experience (see Table 1). In addition, there were 6 self-contained class students and 26 general class students at four grade also involved in this study. Students, who studied in self-contained class, were all moderate to severe disabilities and three of six students had inclusion experience before this study.

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