Place: Norges idrettshøgskole
Inclusive Physical Education?
Children with disabilities are at risk of social and pedagogical marginalisation and exclusion in physical education (PE). Despite increased international research initiatives, our knowledge of what supports inclusion in PE is still limited. In the Norwegian context, few studies have explored inclusion of children with disabilities in PE.
Framed within a socioecological perspective, the overall aims of this dissertation were: a) to identify the gaps in the extant knowledge base on inclusion of children with disabilities in PE and b) to explore inclusion in PE as experienced by children with disabilities and parents in Norway. The project distinguishes between physical, social and pedagogical dimensions of inclusion in PE.
The research project employed a parallel multimethod design, in which three methodologically distinct studies resulted in five articles (Article I-V). Study I was a systematic literature review aimed at compiling, organising, and analysing the body of literature on inclusion of children with disabilities in PE from 2009 to 2015. Based on preselected criteria and PRISMA guidelines for systematic literature reviews, the search yielded 535 articles of which 112 articles were finally included (Article I).
Study II was a hermeneutic phenomenological interview study aimed at exploring the lived experience of inclusion in PE among children with disabilities and their parents. Based on interviews with 15 children with disabilities and 26 parents, Article II explored how the children with disabilities and their parents experienced social and pedagogical inclusion in various PE settings. The data in Article III was limited to the parental accounts and explored how the parents experienced the PE-related home-school collaboration. In both articles, thematic analysis was employed to capture the essence and the nuances of the participants’ experiences with inclusion in PE.
Study III was a cross sectional survey study aimed at exploring the associations between the experiences of physical, social and pedagogical inclusion and intrapersonal, interpersonal, and contextual factors among children with disabilities (Article IV) and their parents (Article V). To better understand the mechanisms that support inclusion in PE, Article IV explored the associations between children’s experiences of social and pedagogical inclusion, perceived motivational climate, physical inclusion and their motivational attributes. The article employed tenets from achievement goal theory and self-determination theory. The participants were 64 children with disabilities attending Norwegian general elementary schools. The analytical approach used was fuzzy qualitative comparative analysis. Article V explored the association between intrapersonal, interpersonal and contextual factors and satisfaction with social and pedagogical inclusion among parents of children with disabilities (N=72). The main analytical modelling approaches used were ordinary least square regression (OLS) and quantile regression (QR).
With the use of multiple methodological approaches, this dissertation provided insight into the complexity of physical, social and pedagogical inclusion in PE as experienced by children with disabilities and their parents.
The review of literature in Study I indicated that despite increased research contributions on inclusion of children with disabilities in PE, the knowledge of how to promote inclusion in PE is still limited. Previous research has largely concentrated on the PE educators’ perspectives and attitudes towards inclusion in PE among teachers. Limited research exists on the experiences of children with disabilities and their parents. Based on the gaps in knowledge identified in the Study I, the focus of Study II and III was narrowed down to inclusion in PE as experienced by children with disabilities and their parents.
Study II illuminated the complexity and nuances in the experiences of inclusion in PE among children with disabilities and their parents. The analysis in Article II generated four themes: (a) physical inclusion in PE; (b) pedagogical inclusion and exclusion in PE; (c) social inclusion and exclusion in PE and beyond; and (d) forced exclusion. The themes indicated the situational complexity of and fluctuation in inclusion as experienced by children and parents, as well as how the children navigated exclusive situations in PE. Children with disabilities are still at risk of marginalisation in PE and several children do not receive the PE provision they deserve.
The inquiry into the PE-related home-school collaboration as experienced by parents generated five themes (Article III): a) the lack of PE-related information in the home-school collaboration; b) the parents’ experiences of how contradictory expectations between themselves and the school personnel inhibited collaboration: c) the importance of perceived competence and continuous systematic communication; d) the parents’ involvement in school-based activity; and e) the parents’ strategies of navigating the system to secure the necessary educational adaptations. The findings show how lack of school routines that ensure systematic PE-related collaboration limits parents’ ability to make informed decisions-making in terms of their child’s education. The findings also provide insight into the parental labour involved in securing quality education in PE for their children with disabilities.
Study III further illuminated the associations between the experiences of physical, social and pedagogical inclusion and intrapersonal, interpersonal, and contextual factors among children with disabilities and their parents. In Article IV, the analyses of contextual conditions yielded two sufficient inclusion-supportive climates, namely a physically inclusive and mastery oriented climate or a physical inclusive, autonomy supportive and low performance-oriented climate. Thus, physical inclusion in general PE was not sufficient to secure social and pedagogical inclusion and a mastery climate seems to be a particular robust inclusion-supportive climate for children with different motivational profiles and abilities.
The configurations of motivational attributes within the inclusion-supportive contexts indicated four sufficient pathways to social and pedagogical inclusion. The different paths indicated that children with different levels of satisfaction of the needs for competence and autonomy could feel both socially and pedagogically included as long as they were task oriented, low on amotivation and experienced satisfaction of the need for relatedness.
The results from Article V indicated that the parents' satisfaction with social inclusion in PE was associated with their attitudes towards inclusion in PE, perceived PE-related information sharing and children’s type of disability and degree of physical inclusion. Parents' satisfaction with pedagogical inclusion in PE was associated with their attitudes towards inclusion in PE, PE-related information sharing, and children's degree of disability and physical inclusion. Furthermore, the QR estimates indicated that the explanatory strength of parental attitudes and children’s type of disability varied with the degree of parents’ satisfaction.
Article I: Wilhelmsen, T., & Sørensen, M. (2017). Inclusion of children with disabilities in physical education: A review of literature 2009-2015. Adapted physical activity quarterly, 34, 311 -337. doi: 10.1123/apaq.2016-0017
Article II: Wilhelmsen, T., Sørensen, M., & Seippel, Ø. (2018). “Inclusion is a nice word but…”: Physical education as experienced by children with disabilities and their parents. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Article III: Wilhelmsen, T., & Sørensen, M. (2018). Physical education-related home-school collaboration: The experiences of parents of children with disabilities. European Physical Education Review. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1177/1356336X18777263
Article IV: Wilhelmsen, T., Sørensen, M., & Seippel, Ø. (2018). Motivational pathways to social and pedagogical inclusion in physical education. Adapted physical activity quarterly, 36(1), 19-41. doi: 10.1123/apaq.2018-0019
Article V: Wilhelmsen, T., Sørensen, M., Seippel, Ø., & Block, M.E. (2019). Parental satisfaction with inclusion in physical education. International Journal of Inclusive Education. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1080/13603116.2019.1597930