Engaging young people with disabilities in research about their experiences of physical education and sport: A scoping review of methodologies and method

Year: 2021

Author: Clish, Meg

Type of paper: Individual Paper

Young people with disabilities have increasingly become part of complex and important conversations surrounding their experiences and engagement in physical education (PE) and sport. Despite more young voices being heard, scant attention has been given to why we are listening, who we are listening to, and how we are listening. In this scoping review, we focus on the methodologies and methods used when researching how young people with disabilities’ experience PE and sport. Articles were retrieved by searching Google Scholar, 5 key PE, sport and disability journals, and the citations and references of relevant research articles. To be selected for our review, the articles needed to be empirical, peer-reviewed, and written in English as well as include data that was generated with and by young people with disabilities relating to their PE and sport experiences.  Forty-two articles met our inclusion criteria and the following information was extracted: aims; country of origin; context and participant; research design; data sources; analytical, theoretical and contextual frameworks; and key findings and recommendations. By reviewing methodologies and methods, we were able to identify that: authors often justified their work as ‘filling a gap’; varied, and often minimal, participant information was provided; and finally, data generation methods were at times exclusionary and/or not sensitive to disability research contexts. Moving forward, we first recommend that careful consideration is given to why research is being done, in addition to contributing knowledge to the field. Second, participant descriptions require more detail. Descriptions such as “students with disabilities” should be complemented by information such as diagnosis, severity and type of impairment (i.e., physical, sensory, intellectual, behavioural), as well as mobility and support needs. The inclusion of this information acknowledges the heterogeneity within disability populations and would allow for findings to be more meaningfully interpreted. In addition to this, it would become clearer which voices have been heard. Finally, greater attention must be given to alternative and inclusive data generation methods to engage more diverse young people in research about PE and youth sport, namely those with high support needs.