Adapted Physical Education: Perspectives of Physical Education Teachers in New Hampshire
Southern New Hampshire University
The purpose of this study was to learn about the obstacles and barriers of teaching Adapted Physical Education (APE) from the viewpoints of Physical Education (PE) teachers in rural New Hampshire public schools grades K-12. Two research issues drove this project: What challenges and barriers do Adapted Physical Education (APE) teachers experience when including students with disabilities in general physical education? and What are the experiences of rural New Hampshire Public Schools’ Adapted Physical Education (APE) teachers to implement and adapt their classes for students with special needs? The study included interviews, observations, and the collection of artifacts and documents of Physical Education (PE) teachers in New Hampshire to investigate these concerns. Adapted Physical Education (APE) teachers encounter barriers and issues with inadequate equipment, class size, administrative support, physical space, funding, and a lack of professional development, according to the literature on Physical Education (PE). However, in New Hampshire, a limited amount of study has been done on Adapted Physical Education (APE), especially in rural public-school districts. Data was collected through triangulation using observations, document collection, and semi-structured interviews with Physical Education (PE) teachers in New Hampshire. Nearly all the Physical Education (PE) teachers in this study stated that they have adequate and sufficient administrative support; however, many of the PE teachers faced their biggest barriers and challenges when trying to work with students that have Social Emotional Learning (SEL) disabilities and behavioral issues. The research found that paraprofessional support is lacking, and, in some cases, it is completely non-existent in the PE classroom. Furthermore, several of the participants in this study cited “time” as a barrier, since they reportedly have limited opportunities to meet with students that have disabilities daily. Typically, only one class meeting per week. One participant in this study stated that the entire sixth grade class/students do not receive Physical Education (PE) for the entire school year. Moreover, the study also showed that elementary and middle school students have limited opportunities and fewer options to take Physical Education (PE) classes compared to high school students. In addition, none of the participants in this study have earned their CAPE license and certification. Therefore, recommendations emerged that Physical Education (PE) teachers receive additional training and think about becoming a Certified Adapted Physical Educator (CAPE). The findings are examined, as well as the future of Adapted Physical Education in New Hampshire.