Social interaction in inclusive physical education: The impact of a cooperative learning model

Year: 2012

Author: Dowler, Wendy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Abstract:

This presentation will report on the qualitative results of a mixed method study conducted in New South Wales, Australia investigating the impact of a Cooperative Learning Model on the social interaction behaviours of three students with a mild intellectual disability in inclusive secondary school physical education classes.  Specifically the common social interaction behaviours present pre and post the implementation of the Cooperative Learning Model will be discussed.

The study was designed to address the problem of limited social interaction between students with a mild intellectual disability and peers without a disability in the above setting. Cooperative learning has been considered a promising pedagogical approach for teaching and the promotion of social interactions in the inclusive physical education setting. To establish whether a functional relationship existed between the Cooperative Learning Model and the social interaction behaviours of students with a mild intellectual disability a single-subject multiple baseline design across 3 inclusive secondary school Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) classes was employed. The qualitative component of the study collected data via observation, interviews and focus groups in three stages over 18, 15 and 10 lessons respectively. Stage 1 collected baseline data in the regular inclusive physical education class, Stage 2 prepared students for cooperative learning in both health and physical education settings, and Stage 3 applied cooperative learning in the inclusive physical education class. PDHPE teachers, students with a mild intellectual disability and peers without a disability were the participants in the study.

Data was sorted and coded using Nvivo and the main themes emerging across the three classes in each stage will be reported.  Further analysis in relation to variables from the conceptual framework of Identity theory and Contact theory will be discussed to offer insight into how the social interaction behaviours were impacted or changed over the course of the study. Although there were beneficial changes in social interaction behaviours for each student over the course of the study the implementation and impact of the Cooperative Learning Model was not always seamless.

The study provided solid evidence for the strength of the Cooperative Learning Model as a teaching approach for the promotion of social interactions for students with mild intellectual disabilities in secondary school inclusive physical education classes. More attention now needs to be paid to how teachers can implement a Cooperative Learning Model in their inclusive classes more efficiently so the reported benefits can be fully realized.

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