Creating Inclusive Elementary School Dance Education Environments

  • Author / Creator
    Zitomer, Michelle R
  • Inclusion, despite being a topic of discussion and debate across education domains internationally, has received limited research attention in dance education. Inclusion is grounded in an understanding that students with disabilities have a right to be educated alongside their peers in general education classrooms. Inclusive dance provides opportunities for people of all abilities, including individuals with mobility or cognitive disabilities, to experience dance by enabling equal access to all its activities. The purpose of this dissertation study is to explore how an inclusive dance education environment is created for elementary school children with disabilities. Specifically, three research questions were posed: (a) How do dance teachers perceive inclusion and their roles and actions in creating inclusive dance education environments?; (b) How do students with disabilities perceive the elementary school dance education environment?; and (c) How do students without disabilities perceive disability in the context of elementary school dance education? Relational ethics was the conceptual framework that guided study development and interpretation. A qualitative interpretivist approach facilitated the process of understanding the experiences of four dance teachers, eight children with disabilities, and fourteen classmates without disabilities. Data collection involved interviews, observations, and field notes. Data analysis followed interpretive thematic analysis guidelines. This paper-based dissertation consists of three papers. The first addresses the teachers’ perceptions and roles, the second addresses students with disabilities, and the third addresses classmates of students with disabilities. In addition, an introductory chapter sets the stage for this research, and a culminating chapter summarizes the findings from the individual papers, and discusses implications for research and professional practice. This study contributes to extending practical and theoretical knowledge in dance education and inclusive education. Insights from this study suggest that elementary school dance education can potentially offer students a safe learning environment that enables collaborative movement exploration, problem solving, and creativity. The environment is created by teachers who are committed to inclusion and value the uniqueness of each student. Through participation in this environment classmates learn to regard uniqueness as an ordinary aspect of their classroom diversity, and students with disabilities gain a sense of belonging.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2016
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.