Adapted aquatics and outdoor education physical education undergraduate training at the Institute of Technology Tralee, Ireland Print E-mail

The Institute of Technology Tralee offer Health and Leisure studies with an option of transferring to Physical Education Studies in year 3. In the first 2 years of their Health and Leisure studies approximately half of the cohort of students completes a major in aquatics completing level 1 Assistant Swimming Teachers and Full Swimming Teachers Qualifications. As part of the full Swimming Teachers they will discuss the different disabilities and working with people with disabilities. They would sometimes teach a child with a disability in their teaching classes. They also cover activities to develop water confidence in the water and later to progress onto all strokes. They cover an introduction to the Halliwick concept covering entries, exit's supports and activities related to the Ten Point Programme. They also complete the National Rescue Award for Swimming Teachers and Coaches and the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification. As part of the National Pool Lifeguard qualification they become aware of issues to consider when supervising and rescuing all groups including people with disabilities. The second half of the student group completes a major in outdoor education and a minor in aquatics. The minor includes a foundation level Halliwick course during their second year of study.

In third year the students who have selected Physical Education Studies will all complete a module in Adapted Physical Activity: Outdoor Environments. This module is designed to help students to work in the area of adventure/outdoor activities with individuals with a variety of disabilities. The module aims to prepare and enable students to deliver activities for specific populations promoting full inclusion, enjoyment and success. Activities include Kayaking, surfing, adventure games, and rock climbing among others. Students work alongside Adventure Activity instructors in the implementation of activities with specific population groups. These sessions act as practical workshops and allow the students to put to practice the theoretical knowledge they have gained at lectures. Students are also given opportunities to lead activities in a closely supervised and supportive environment. Following this, students are required to design a programme for a specific population group and offer means of review for the individuals. Reflective journals are kept of the work they undertake. Formal lectures are used to ensure the learners are aware of the special needs of a participant with disability in an adventure sports setting. Case studies and lesson planning exercises help prepare the students for the practical workshops run under the supervision of Specialist Outdoor instructors.

In the fourth year of their studies the Physical Education undergraduates undertake a module in adapted physical education. This module aims to give the student the knowledge and skills to design, implement and assess physical education classes for people with disabilities in both inclusive and segre50gated settings. The lectures provide the theoretical underpinning for the module area, while the practicals allow the students to implement a series of classes for people with disabilities under supervision. While this module covers all strands of the Irish PE Curriculum some students will receive additional experience in either the aquatics or outdoor education settings. One example is the swimming classes for children  with intellectual disabilities where students work with participants in low ratios for 45 minutes per week over a 10 week period. The session consists typically of 30 minutes developing water confidence, motor ability and stroke technique. The final 15 minutes is usually a games session with activities ranging from aqua aerobics to Halliwick style games or aquatic basketball. Swimmers are examined relative to their ability level through an aquatic examination pack called "Aquaducks" which was developed and produced by the ITT students, which ranges from basic water confidence, stroke technique and basic lifeguard techniques.

Graduates of the Physical Education Studies honours degree at ITT go on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Education and to teach Physical Education in second level schools. The adapted elements of the aquatics and outdoor education training they receive as part of their undergraduate degree cover all of the knowledge skills and competencies identified in the EUSAPA project in relation to the strands of aquatics and outdoor education.

Contact details

Outdoor Education: Tomas Aylward, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Aquatics: Aoife Ni Mhuiri, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Karen Weekes, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Relevance of EGP to EUSAPA project

Adapted aquatics and outdoor education physical education undergraduate training at the Institute of Technology Tralee is an excellent example in physical education teacher training helping students to acquire competencies needed to work with students with special needs. Key to success of ITT APE related programs is supervised and supported practicum where students get positive experiences in work with persons with disabilities.

EUSAPA competencies presented in this EGP

  1. Ability to use appropriate instructional strategies (e.g., physical/verbal cues, prompts, feedback, reinforcement)
  2. Ability to adapt the rules of games, physical setting , equipment
  3. Ability to use task analysis for desirable skill
  4. Ability to collaborate with other specialists providing PE/APE

Example of good practice was described by Ursula Barrett from Institute of Technology in Tralee, Ireland.