Date of Award

5-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education

Abstract

The education of children with disabilities has changed dramatically since 1970. Litigation and legislation have guaranteed students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education in an environment which would be least restrictive. This has placed some students with teachers who may not have a positive attitude toward teaching children with disabilities. Research has identified several variables which effect an educators' attitude toward teaching children with disabilities- the two most prominent being previous experience and education. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of education and experience on the attitudes of pre-service physical education educators toward teaching children with disabilities. Pre-service physical educators from The College at Brockport, State University of New York, who were enrolled in an introduction to adapted physical education course, were asked to complete a modified version of the Physical Educators' Attitudes toward Teaching the Handicapped (PEATH) questionnaire before and after their experience in the course, which included field experience. Results indicated that there was no significant difference in the pre-service teachers' attitudes toward teaching children with disabilities before and after the course. Even though results were not significant, there was a trend toward pre-service attitudes becoming more favorable. The trend suggests that higher education institutions can create a positive and effective adapted physical education course in physical education teacher preparation courses that may increase positive attitudes. The lack of significance suggests that more can be done to continue to improve attitude.

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