The unheard partner in adapted physical activity Community Service Learning

  • Author / Creator
    Marsh, Rebecca T
  • Adapted physical activity (APA) has historically used disability-related Community Service Learning (CSL) or practicum placements in undergraduate education (Connolly, 1994; Hodge, Tannehill, & Kluge, 2003). CSL is a tool used to benefit students through enhanced academic learning, increased civic engagement, and the application of theory to practice (Richards, Eberline, Padaruth, & Templin, 2015). CSL contexts are based upon the principles of reciprocity, diversity, and collaboration to create mutually beneficial relationships among students and members of the community (Mintz & Hesser, 1996). The voices of community members are remarkably absent from the CSL literature, however (Blouin & Perry, 2009). This may be because people experiencing disability are rarely viewed as experts in their own lives (Goodwin & Rossow-Kimball, 2012). To learn about disability experiences in a CSL context, the research question was: How do members of the disability community experience an undergraduate adapted physical activity community service learning program? A qualitative interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) research approach was undertaken to provide a systematic framework for describing and interpreting day-to-day interactions and relationships in the context of the CSL experiences (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009). The CSL context was a student supported, disability focused exercise program. Nine adults (female = 2, male =7, mean age = 50) living with neurological and mobility impairments, completed individual audio-recorded, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. Follow-up focus group interviews were also conducted. Observational and reflective field notes of the CSL sessions were documented. The interview and focus group data were thematically analyzed and interpreted using the conceptual framework of Relational Ethics (Bergum & Dossetor, 2005). The analysis revealed four themes (a) yes, we will be partners in CSL, (b) but…we’re in the dark, (c) subjected to being subjects, and (d) always engage through relationships. The participants revealed that relationship building contributed significantly to how they experienced CSL, although they did not fully engage in reciprocal and collaborative activities. Without community collaboration, it becomes difficult to optimize the pedagogical strategies of CSL that encourage reciprocity and engagement, running the risk of perpetuating assumptive and harmful discourses of disability.  

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • 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.