Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


An Updated View of University-based Service-learning in Adapted Physical Activity: Instructor-reported use of Best Practices, Challenges and Supports Pubblico Deposited

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  • Adapted physical activity and education (APA/APE) service-learning has received considerable attention as a training tool to prepare undergraduate students, including preservice physical education teachers, to work with people with disabilities (Hodge, 1998; Rowe & Stutts, 1987; Taliaferro et al., 2015). Much of this research focuses on demonstrating the effects of service-learning on student outcomes, including improvements in attitudes toward people with disabilities (Case et al., 2020; Lee et al., 2020), self-efficacy to include children with disabilities, and perceived competence to teach (Hodge et al., 2002). Despite this focus on student experiences in the literature, there is little understanding and evaluation of other important components of service-learning, such as the use of evidence-based and recommended practices, alignment with disability-centered programming, and exploration of course instructor perspectives. While service-learning is strongly advocated for as a training tool in educational settings, it is important to evaluate service-learning from multiple perspectives in order to better understand its success and improve training efforts within APA/APE. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation study is to gain an updated examination of adapted physical activity service-learning at U.S. universities, while evaluating the use of various best-practice recommendations and exploring instructor-rated challenges and supports to service-learning. To achieve this purpose, this dissertation was divided into two separate studies. The first study (Chapter II) focuses on examining the alignment between existing university-based APA/APE service-learning and recommendations for student-centered best-practices, disability-centered best practices, and best-practices for favorable attitude change toward people with disabilities. Participants (n = 165) included instructors of APA/APE undergraduate courses with a service-learning component (n = 159) or facilitators of APA/APE service-learning at their university (n = 6). Participants completed an online survey that measured information about the use of best-practice recommendations from supporting literature (Case et al., 2020; Drum et al., 2009; Pangelinan et al., 2018; Whitley, 2014). The results indicate that APA/APE service-learning in the U.S. use significantly more student-centered recommendations than disability-centered (Z = -10.45, p < .001). In addition, the odds of implementing attitude-change activities did not differ between service-learning with and without attitude-change objectives (OR = 1.14, p = .663, 95% CI [0.64, 2.04]). Implications and future research directions were discussed in relation to increasing consideration of and compliance with disability-centered best-practices in APA/APE training. Recommendations were made for instructors and service-learning facilitators to carefully designing service-learning to meet the target objectives. The purpose of the second study (Chapter III) was to explore the challenges and supports to service-learning among APA/APE course instructors. One hundred and sixty-five participants completed an online survey that measured various instructor-rated challenges and supports as well as service-learning programming responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings indicate that, on average, the most critical challenges to service-learning all related to lack of time, while the most critical supports related to adequate planning and high-quality staff. Interestingly, the only university or instructor characteristic examined in this study that contributed to differences in mean ratings of challenges to service-learning was current teacher certification (F(1, 163) = 4.353, p = .038, h2 = 0.03). No differences in mean ratings of supports were found based on any university or instructor characteristic. In addition, based on the two separate binary logistic regression analyses, no differences were found in programming response to COVID-19 based on mean challenge ratings (OR = 0.99, p = 0.93, 95% CI [.704, 1.38]). However, results revealed differences in program response based on mean support ratings (OR = 1.37, SE = .15, p = 0.04, 95% CI [1.02, 1.84]), suggesting a 1.37 increase in the odds of implementing virtual programming for every one-unit increase in mean support ratings among programs that stopped in-person service-learning. Collectively, findings from these two studies have several important implications for service-learning evaluation and intervention in APA/APE. Service-learning facilitators should continue to use practices that maximize student training—however, efforts must be taken to prioritize disability-centered best practices moving forward. In addition, these findings highlight the importance of maximizing supports for service-learning. Due to lack of time challenges, course instructors and facilitators should consider using natural openings in time, including temporary changes or pauses in programming due to COVID-19, for program evaluation and redesign.
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  • This research was partially supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (H325D160023 [PI Yun/MacDonald]). However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and endorsement by the Federal Government should not be assumed. Project Officer Louise Tripoli.
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