Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Tindall, D., & MacDonald, W.
American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD).
'Pre-service teachers' attitudes towards children with disabilities: An Irish Perspective'
St. Louis, MO. USA.
Poster Presentation (Refereed)
Optional Fields


This qualitative study examines the impact of a ten-week adapted physical activity (APA) program on the attitudes of 64 Irish pre-service teachers (PSTs) towards teaching children with disabilities (CWD) in the physical education setting. Aiming to inform teacher education practice to insure that Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programming implement in Ireland is both comprehensive and impactful; researchers strive to deepen the inclusionary vision of Ireland’s educational structure.


Participants included 64 pre-service teachers (PSTs; ages 19-25) in their 3rd year of a physical education initial teacher education (PE-ITE) program at a university within Ireland. PSTs assisted 45 children and young adults (ages 5 to 21) with various disabilities, as they participated in a weekly 1-hour APA programme. Over the course of ten weeks, children engaged in different physical activities such as dance, games, and health-related activity (HRA).

Data was collected from the PSTs through weekly reflective logs completed over the course of the programme. Through these logs, PSTs were to address two specific questions relating to their attitudes: ‘Am I changing?’ And ‘What is causing me to change? PSTs then constructed one final reflection exploring if and how attitudes towards children with disabilities may have or have not changed as a result of participating in the APA programme.


Data was analyzed qualitatively through reading and rereading the data sources identifying similarities and differences, themes, and patterns.  Results from this analysis uncovered three themes under each of the two questions posed. Themes for ‘change’ included a) increased comfort b) increased confidence, and c) increased expectations. Themes for ‘causation’ of aforementioned changes included a) increased understanding, b) improved communication, and c) opportunities for observation. Overall reflections produced by each PST at the end of their ten-week experience express their summary of the experience. The overall reflections showed positive change in attitude toward working with students with disabilities and an increase in PSTs’ levels of confidence in their skills as physical educators working with children with disabilities.


The results of this research supports the continued implementation and evolution of this current program in its’ efforts to expose Irish pre-service teachers to children with disabilities. Changes in attitude and linkage to elements of programming and experience that influenced them have been recorded through the reflections of the third year PSTs and henceforth, teacher education best practice should utilize these themes to inform teacher education programming.