Development Process of Adapted Physical Activities and Reviewing Attitudinal Levels of Turkish Sports Education Administrators towards Sports Activities for Individuals with Mental Disabilities

Authors: Huseyin KIRIMOGLU * (1), Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Faculty of Sports Sciences, Turkey.

Corresponding Author:
Huseyin KIRIMOGLU, Assoc. Dr.
Mugla Sitki Kocman University, Faculty of Sports Sciences Kotekli/Mugla, 48000
hkirim2005@gmail.com
002522111951

(1) Huseyin KIRIMOGLU is an Associate Professor in Sports Exercise Science at the Mugla Sitki Kocman University studying intellectual disabilities and self-concept in sports.

ABSTRACT
The current study focused on reviewing attitudinal levels of academic and administrative team of Faculty of Sports Sciences (FSS) and School of Physical Education and Sports (SPES) who teach physical education and sports science in Turkish State Universities towards sportive activities for individuals with mental retardation (MR) in terms of various variables in relation to development process of physical activities adapted to disabled individuals. As data collection tools, “Personal Information Form” designed by the researcher and Attitude Scale of Individuals Having Mental Disabilities towards Sports Activities (ASIHMDSA) designed by Ilhan, Esenturk, and Yarimkaya (2016) were employed. Attitudinal levels of the participants were compared in relation to gender, academic title, administrative service, duration of academic service and whether or not receiving sports education for the disabled during their education. Besides, the literature was screened and development process of adapted physical activities and what kind of effects it had upon participants’ attitudinal levels were discussed. The population of the study was composed of academic staff (deans, school directors and deputy directors and heads of academic departments) who executed administrative services for FSS and SPES of state universities (36 Universities) during 2016-2017 academic year and sample of the study was consisted of a total of 151 academic administrators (17 female and 134 male administrators) who volunteered to join the study. For the assessment of the data and exploration of calculated values; SPSS 22.0 statistical software was used. Whether or not the data followed a normal distribution was tested through Levene’s (variance-ratio) test and Kolmogorov-Smirnov test and non-parametric tests of Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal Wallis H tests were used for those data that did not follow a normal distribution according to normality test. As a result, as far as the results of the current study was concerned, it may be suggested that academic and administrative team of Faculty of Sports Sciences (FSS) and School of Physical Education and Sports (SPES) of who serve in physical education and Sports science in Turkish State Universities had a high and positive attitudes towards supporting establishment of Exercise and Sports Departments for the Disabled and participation of the individuals with mental disabilities in sportive activities.

Keywords: Mentally Disabled, Adapted Physical Activity, Attitude, Sports Administrators.

INTRODUCTION
Considering the general function of universities, it is seen that it has been clustered under three groups: “education, basic scientific researches and social services” (5, 6, and 10). Academicians, particularly, those in charge of administrative services, play the biggest role in making universities fulfill these functions. These individuals who are the leaders of various departments at universities are expected to serve by taking responsibilities and to execute their duties correctly in accordance with the constitution, laws and regulations so that universities can realize these above mentioned functions. It may be argued that approaches towards situations and events and attitudes towards facts of those individuals who conduct and administer higher education institutions and possess high leadership characteristics are the main determining factor upon projections over education and educational institutions. Enabling the disabled individuals to participate in social life as active and productive individuals through progressing in every aspect is one dimension of modern social policies (25). In this sense, it is of high importance for society to develop positive attitudes towards the disabled individuals.

Humans tend to demonstrate positive or negative behaviors towards someone, place or event. When beliefs and mental processes are added to these behaviors, the concept of attitude emerges. Actually, it is emphasized that attitude is a tendency on a personal scale and people develop attitudes towards things that have psychological meanings for them (4, 8, 13, 22, and 29). There are many factors in the development of attitudes. Attitudes are shaped by the influence of family during early childhood period but the effect of social circle, education and educational process are said to increase in the later ages (21). Additionally, it is concluded that there occurs a positive change among individuals who interact with people with disabilities because negative attitudes against the disabled can be changed with integrated programs in school settings (1, 3, 15, 19, 28, and 30). Again, it is reported that radical changes occur in attitudes due to numerous and different experiences taking place during university education, too (9, 24).

Considering the objectives of both the Turkish National Education and Higher Education, it is seen that both organizations take an important responsibility for educating a healthy youth in every aspect. In line with the 42nd bylaw of the Turkish Constitution, which is one of the most important reference points of this responsibility, it is stated that “nobody may be deprived of right to education.” This bylaw of the Constitution clearly enjoins the state to provide the citizens with educational services in any circumstance.

However, it can be said that some of the individuals with disabilities who are obliged to lead their lives disadvantageously owing to different inabilities (mental, physical, hearing and visual disabilities) have the chance to continue higher education while others are deprived of right to education owing to mental disabilities or mental handicaps.

Thus, it is clear that there is a need for the presence of treatment programs suitable for the existing conditions of those who are unable to continue higher education due to mental impairments in order to integrate them into society and to meet personal and social expectations and educating instructors in charge of these programs is an important dimension.

Actually, unity of education requires that children’s skills that need to be educated should be assessed as a whole. Children should be assessed as a whole and educated in every aspect in terms of physical and spiritual abilities (thought, emotions, willpower, etc.) (7). In this sense, it is necessary to train and to educate exercise and sports instructors for the disabled who will help individuals with special needs to improve physically, psychologically, mentally and socially and these instructors should be included in treatment programs by explicitly emphasizing their professional descriptions just as those professionals who require expertise -such as teachers for special teaching, physiotherapists, social service specialists, psychologists who provide education and training (academic, social, self-care skills and rehabilitation) for individuals with special needs- are educated.

It is reported that emphases for policy making, legal regulations and organizational structures in terms of the practices targeting individuals with disabilities have been focused since the second half of 1990s in our country (31). Meanwhile, physical education and sports, considered as an inseparable part of general education (35), activities of physical education and sports, recreation and physical activity programs are needed to be efficiently included in the general education of individuals with disabilities because thanks to rehabilitative and therapeutic effects, as a physical, mental, emotional and social development tool- physical activities for the disabled individuals (23) are effective tools. In other words, it is expressed that physical education and sports improve individuals with disability physically, psychologically and socially and facilitate their social integrity (26).

In terms of historic process abroad, researches and teaching practices related to adapted physical activities in the USA can be investigated under four phases: Physical Culture Teaching between 1900 and 1920, Adapted Sports and Correctives between 1920 and 1950, Adapted Physical Education between 1950 and 1980, Adapted Physical Activities since 1980 (33). It is reported that there were a few number of adapted Physical Education Programs of good quality in the USA until the mid 1960s but most of these programs focused only on physical education and sports targeting individuals with physical disabilities (34).

Owing to the studies done by such scientists as Barsch (1965), Frostig and Home (1964), Kephart (1960) during this period, attention was turned to individuals with other kinds of disabilities (perceptional-motor development problems, mental disabilities, learning difficulties, emotional behavioral disorders, etc.). In order to design program models that would train teachers of physical education who would give physical education courses to individuals with special needs, financial government grants were provided to 15 different universities in 1969 (Cited by 34). In 1970s, there were no laws anywhere that mandated that physically disabled children should receive physical education courses (11). Adapted Physical Education Task Force –the sub-branch of The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) established qualifications that adapted physical education specialists should possess (34). During this period, undergraduate students were obliged to work with individuals with disabilities for 100 hours as a part of prerequisite courses with the changes made in the undergraduate programs and were granted a right to do a double major in special education and physical education undergraduate programs. During the phase of “Adapted Physical Activities” after 1980s, in order to reinforce inclusive education of individuals with disabilities, optional and applied courses that contained a laboratory and physical education and physical activities designed for children with special needs were included in the academic programs of undergraduate physical education. The biggest change in 1990s was the transition in undergraduate programs and graduate programs from adapted physical education to adapted physical activities (33).

Although the number of the academic studies on physical education and sports for individuals with special needs has been increasing, adapted physical activities (Physical education and sports for those with special needs) are not known very well in many European countries. Despite requiring a serious expertise, adapted physical activities are considered by many professionals in Europe (physical education teachers, special education teachers, class teachers who teach physical education, therapists, coaches etc) as a part of their job descriptions. Course contents at universities have been changing, too. Since 1991 there have been master programs and undergraduate programs for adapted physical activities in such countries as Belgium, Finland and Czechia (20). When the development process in the USA and Europe is examined in relation to Turkish higher education, it clearly strikes us that there is long way to go.

In fact, schools of physical education and sports teaching under the faculties of education of state universities that provide higher educational services in our country have been transformed into a sports colleges/schools since 1992 and different departments (coaching education, ports management and recreation leadership) have been opened. In 2010, this process ended up with a new transformation of some colleges/schools into faculties in line with the developments and as a result, academic departments that were transformed into sports sciences faculties from colleges/schools were extended and new departments were opened but education of the instructors of the Exercise and Sports Departments for the Disabled, which is necessary to be included into general education of the disabled individuals, could not be started as an undergraduate program at sports science faculties.

Foundation of Exercise and Sports Department for the Disabled, opened in 2009 for the first time at Inonu University under the School of Physical education and Sports, has been an example for other sports sciences faculties transformed into faculties from colleges/schools. However, some of the Exercise and Sports Department for the Disabled established at some of the Sports sciences faculties have actively not been in service, yet. The biggest barrier is that job description of those instructors who will graduate from these departments has not been made yet and practices for physical activities to be provided to those with special needs are not included in special education modules of the course curriculums.

Therefore, exploring attitudinal levels of the academic personnel in charge of administrative tasks of these faculties and colleges about this topic may be accepted as a significant indicator in the sense that Exercise and Sports Departments for the Disabled should operate as an active department in the future.

In light of these data, the current study focused on reviewing development process of adapted physical activities and attitudinal levels of Turkish sports education administrators towards sportive activities of individuals with mental disabilities in terms of various variables.

METHODS
Study Model
In the study, screening model was used. Screening Model is a research approach that aims to describe a situation either as it was before or as it is now. The event, individual or object that is the subject of the study is described as it is in its own conditions. No efforts were made to change or to affect them (14).

Population and Sample
The study group was consisted of academic personnel who executed administrative tasks at sports sciences faculties and colleges/schools of physical education and sports in Turkish state universities (Universities of Dumlupınar, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman, Gaziantep, Mersin, Adıyaman, Düzce, İnönü, Ordu, Kırıkkale, Manisa Celal Bayar, Ağrı İbrahim Çeçen, Karadeniz Teknik, Karabük, Sütçü İmam, Selçuk, Sakarya, Aksaray, Ardahan, Harran, Mustafa Kemal, Adnan Menderes, Hitit, Bitlis Eren, Ömer Halisdemir, Gazi, Kayseri Erciyes, Uşak, Bilecik, Sarıkamış, Karamanoğlu Mehmet Bey, Namık Kemal, Atatürk, Süleyman Demirel, Kocaeli, Yüzüncü Yıl) during 2016-2017 academic year. From the study group; 151 academicians who were in administrative posts and volunteered to participate in the study were recruited for the sample (17 female administrators and 134 male administrators).

Data Collection Tool
As data collection tools, “Personal Information Form” designed by the researcher and Attitude Scale of Individuals Having Mental Disabilities towards Sports Activities (ASIHMDSA) designed by Ilhan, Esenturk and Yarimkaya (2016) were employed. Attitudinal levels of the participants were compared in relation to sex, academic title, administrative service, duration of academic service, department (faculty/school), opinions about opening Exercise and Sports Departments for the Disabled, whether or not receiving sports education for the disabled during their education and whether or not backing sportive activities for the individuals with disabilities at the departments.

Attitude Scale of Individuals Having Mental Disabilities towards Sports Activities (ASIHMDSA)
In the current study, Attitude Scale of Individuals Having Mental Disabilities towards Sports Activities (ASIHMDSA) designed by Ilhan, Esenturk and Yarimkaya (2016) was used as data collection tool. As a result of explanatory factor analysis, ASIHMDSA was consisted of 28 items and two subscales. Considering theoretical bases and factor contents, the subscales were named as “positive attitude towards sportive activities” (PATSA) and “negative attitude towards sportive activities” (NATSA). PATSA is consisted of 21 items (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27) while NATSA is consisted of 7 items (4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28). Respondents rate each item with points from 1 to 5. In the data collection tool designed as a 5 point-Likert type scale, items are rated as “I strongly disagree (1 point), I disagree (2 point), I am neutral (3 point), I agree (4 point), and I strongly agree (5 point). The negatively worded items (4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 24th and 28th items) are reverse-scored. In the scale, the lowest score is 28 while the highest score is 140. In this 5 point-Likert type scale, scores range between 140-112/strongly agree, 111-94/I agree, 93-66/I am neutral, 65-38/I disagree and 37-28/I strongly disagree.

Data Analysis
For the assessment of the data and exploration of calculated values, SPSS 22.0 statistical software was used. Whether or not the data followed a normal distribution was tested through Levene’s (variance-ratio) test and Kolmogorov-Smirnov test and non-parametric tests of Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal Wallis H tests were used for those data that did not follow a normal distribution according to normality test.

RESULTS
Table 1. Total mean score of the participants’ attitude related to sportive activities for the individuals with mental disabilities

N

Min

Max

Weighted Average

SD

151

1.00

5.00

3.9205

.57182

When participants’ arithmetic mean (3.9205) was examined; it may be argued that there was a high positive attitudinal level of the participants for the individuals with mental disabilities to participate in sports.

Table 2. Comparison of the participants’ attitudinal level towards mentally disabled individuals’ participation in sportive activities in terms of different variables

Attitudes   N Mann-Whitney U p
Gender Male 17 1.171.500 .848
Female 134
I am in favor of opening exercise and sports departments for the disabled. Yes 134 718.000 .013*
No 17
I support exercise and sportive activities for the individuals with disabilities Yes 149 150.000 .987
No 2
I received training on exercise and sportive activities for the individuals with disabilities Yes 64 2.647.000 .606
No 87
The department where academicians worked. Faculty 54 2.514.500 .685
School
College
97

In Table 2, the participants’ attitudinal levels towards the mentally disabled individuals’ participation in sportive activities were analyzed in terms of different variables.

According to the findings obtained, no statistically significant differences were obtained in terms of gender, supporting exercise and sportive activities for the individuals with disabilities at the academic departments, the departments where the academicians were employed (Faculty or school) and whether or not the academicians received training on exercise and sportive activities for the disabled (p>0.05).

However, in the analysis on being in favor of opening and backing exercise and sports departments for the disabled, it was identified that there were statistically significant differences and those administrators being in favor had higher mean attitude score than those being against opening exercise and sports departments for the individuals with dis I received training on exercise and sportive activities for the individuals with disabilities abilities (p<0.05). Table 3. The participants’ attitudinal level towards mentally disabled individuals’ participation in sportive activities in terms of academic title, administrative service, duration of academic service

 

N

Kruskal Wallis H

SD

p

Academic title

151

5.437

2

0.066

Administrative service

5.697

4

0.223

Duration of academic service

1.699

2

0.428

Table 3, the participants’ attitudinal levels towards the mentally disabled individuals’ participation in sportive activities were analyzed in terms of academic title (assistant professor, associate professor, professor doctor), administrative service (dean, deputy dean, director, deputy director, head of department), duration of academic service (1-5 years, 6-10 years, 11 years and over).

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
The current study was conducted to review developmental process of adapted physical activities and attitudinal levels of Turkish sports education administrators towards sportive activities of individuals with mental disabilities in terms of various variables. As a result of the literature review, no relevant national studies were found in our country. Therefore, findings will be discussed by comparing them to the results of studies that investigated individuals with special needs, general attitudes in physical education and sports and description of current situation in different sample groups. In this sense, we may argue that the current study is a unique in that it will pave the way for the prospective and new studies in the future.

First, attitudes of Turkish sports education administrators towards participation in sports activities for individuals with mental disabilities were examined. When participants’ arithmetic mean score (3.9205) was considered; it was observed that they had a high attitudinal level towards the mentally disabled individuals’ participation in sports (Tablo1). In the literature, there are some studies that are in line with our study findings. For example, in studies done with teachers and candidate teachers of different branches (pre-school teachers, special education teachers, class teachers and branch teachers, physical education and sports teachers and candidate teachers and students of faculty of education), high degree of awareness and high attitude were found in terms of the mentally disabled individuals’ participation in sports (16, 17, 18, 27, and 36). These studies in the literature concurred with our study findings. Additionally, the sample group of these studies included candidate teachers who continued higher education. The similarity between attitudinal levels of these candidate teachers and the academicians in the current study demonstrates that positive attitudes towards the mentally disabled individuals’ participation in sports are similarly shaped in university society both in the name of academicians and teacher candidates.

Likewise, the fact that teachers and candidate teachers who undertake the education of the youth –considered as an assurance of the future, had high level of positive attitudes towards the mentally disabled individuals’ participation in sports can be said to point out that their participation in sportive activities will be supported more by the society.

In the developed countries, inclusive education was introduced in 1970s and its legal regulations have been framed today in many countries. In our country, inclusive education was started with the law no 2916 “children that need special education” legislated in 1998 (32). Thus, individuals with mental disabilities and other disabled individuals began to receive education and training in the same classroom and school setting as their peers. Meanwhile, in special education programs of individuals with special needs and in inclusive education, there occurred a need for training instructors who are experts in special education. Domain experts in special education teaching program that started under higher education system graduated from the program in 1986-1987 academic years (2). However, professional experts of Exercise and Sports Departments for the individuals with disabilities that are expected to take charge in teaching adapted physical activities were not educated until 2009 as a part of undergraduate programs of higher education, which may be explained by the fact that both the Turkish society and Turkish sports directors who worked with higher education programs did not have enough positive attitudes towards the subject. Considering this situation in relation to adapted physical activities profession, the year of 2009 became a milestone in our country. Actually, participation of sports instructors who are the domain experts in higher education programs started in the same year. It may be suggested that as sports federations, sports clubs, non-governmental sports organizations were founded for the disabled people and families and society witnessed successes of the disabled individuals in physical activities, negative attitudes turned into positive ones.

When previous study results and the fact that Turkish academic administrators of sports education had a high level of positive attitudes were examined together; it is obvious that social and scientific backgrounds that are necessary for opening Exercise and Sports Departments for the disabled have been made.

Actually, another finding obtained in the current study supported this conclusion. According to the analysis made in relation to the variable whether or not Turkish sports education administrators backed opening Exercise and Sports Departments for the disabled in their faculties or colleges/schools, significant difference was found. The administrators in favor of opening these departments had higher mean attitude score than those being against opening these departments for the disabled (p<0.05). This finding confirmed our conclusions. In other words, participants with high level of positive attitudes were highly in favor of founding these departments for the disabled. According to other findings obtained in the study, no significant differences were found in terms of gender, supporting exercise and sportive activities to be arranged for the disabled in their faculties and colleges/schools, departments where they were charged (faculty or school), academic title, administrative service, duration of academic service and receiving sports education for the disabled during their education (p>0.05), which may be concluded that participants demonstrated high level of positive attitudes despite these different demographic variables.

That administrators that worked at faculties of sports sciences and school of physical education and sports under the council of higher education showed high level of positive attitudes about the study-subject is important in training and educating the instructors of physical education and sports, which is one of the treatment programs of the disabled. In this sense, beyond changing legal regulations or officially opening new departments, it is the major issue that new departments already opened should have a dynamic structure and its functions should be consolidated.

RECOMMENDATION
• Sports education of the disabled individuals is a special expertise area. The number of higher education programs that provide service in this field is small. Therefore, it is necessary that instructors of sports education for the disabled be educated through professional undergraduate programs of higher education, not through short-term certificate programs.
• It should be encouraged by the political power to open Exercise and Sports Departments for the disabled in the Turkish higher education.
• Job description of instructors or those that have graduated from Exercise and Sports Departments for the disabled, which are planned to be opened or are already opened should be clarified and the job description should be included in special education, inclusive education and adapted physical activities programs for the disabled.
• In all of the higher education institutions that provide teacher-training programs, physical education and sports courses for the disabled should be compulsory.
• At special education and rehabilitation schools, there should be adapted physical activities modules for individuals with disabilities.

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