Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Movement Sciences


Health and Sport Pedagogy

Committee Director

Justin A. Haegele

Committee Member

Xihe Zhu

Committee Member

Jonna Bobzien


Students with disabilities are educated in general physical education classes with their same aged peers more now than ever before (Governmental Accountability Office [GAO], 2010), yet little is known about how those with orthopedic impairments experience these integrated classes. Additionally, while a plethora of strategies are described as promoting ‘inclusion’, very few ‘inclusive’ strategies have been problematized. This dissertation followed a two-study format. The first study explored the lived experiences of students with orthopedic impairments in integrated physical education classes, and the second study examined how students with orthopedic impairments experienced strategies identified in the literature to support ‘inclusion’. An interpretative phenomenological analysis research approach was used in each, and six students with orthopedic impairments (age 10-14 years) served as participants. Data sources included semi-structured, audiotaped interviews, reflective interview notes, and a written prompt. Based on data analysis, three themes developed in the first study: “Without it, they probably would like, just treat me normal”: visibility, disclosure, and expectations; “I sit out”: limited participation and a lack of modifications/accommodations; and “PE doesn’t feel great”: social interactions and perception of self; and four themes arose in the second study: “It’s kind of embarrassing”: experiences with support; “I don’t want to be different”: equipment, activity, and rule modifications; “I like to be a part of the conversation”: autonomy and choice in PE; and “I would rather be like the other students”: discussing disability. The themes highlight the marginalization and lack of access that the participants encountered during their integrated physical education classes, indicating that physical education professionals may benefit from reflecting on personal biases, as well as their instructional practices in an effort to improve the quality of physical education experiences for their students. Further, the differential effects of these explicated ‘inclusive’ strategies were emphasized, whereas each strategy contributed to feelings of inclusion, as well as marginalization. The findings indicate that ‘inclusive’ strategies should not be considered as blanket recommendations; instead, attempts to promote ‘inclusion’ of students with disabilities should start with a reflexive look at the unique needs of each individual student.


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