Takeaways: As a profession, adapted physical education curriculum designers need to take a more critical view upon the content that is taught within each course. Further, more advocacy is needed to ensure that the principles of APE are diffused through the broader kinesiology curriculum.
Cite as: McNamara, S. W. T., Lieberman, L., Wilson, K., & Colombo-Dougovito, A. M. (2021). “I mean I hate to say it's sink or swim, but…”: College course instructors’ perceptions of the adapted physical education content that they prioritize and teach. Sport, Education, & Society, Advanced Online Publication. DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2021.1882978.
As most physical education teacher education programs provide little preparatory coursework on disabilities, it is unsurprising preservice physical educators often struggle to effectively include students with disabilities. Given upwards of 95% of students with disabilities are taught in integrated physical education classes, it is imperative teachers are prepared for this inevitability. Though it is moderately understood that preservice physical educators receive little preparation, what remains unknown is what those preparatory courses provide and what the rationale is behind their construction. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to examine introductory adapted physical education (APE) course instructors’ perspectives towards the purpose of this course, the content delivered, and their rationale for the included content. Based on interviews with seven faculty (4 males and 3 females), three themes were constructed: ‘It is learning that this may fail’, ‘[Our] purpose is to expose them’, and ‘We cover … broad strokes’. These findings highlight APE faculty’s recognition that their course alone is not enough to prepare future physical educators to effectively provide students with disabilities a quality physical education experience. Overall, teachers largely emphasized the practical components of the course and heavily relied on medicalized definitions of disability. The results from this study deepen the understanding of how introductory APE courses are currently being taught across the United States and provide suggestions for ways to improve course development.