Manchester University has been preparing adapted physical education specialists to meet the learning needs of children and youth with disabilities since 1992. From the inception of this specialized teacher education program, the Physical Education Program (PEP) Teaching Laboratory has remained a key element.
The Teaching Lab is an on-campus experience that partners student teachers with K-12 students from the community for weekly instruction in physical education. The Physical Education and Recreation Center (PERC) serves as the home of the Teaching Lab, with instruction occurring in three activity areas: the Arena, Auxiliary Gym, and Multipurpose Room.
The measurement of motor ability is an important outcome of the lab. The specific variables that are assessed in students with disabilities include:
- Health-Related Physical Fitness
- Running Speed and Agility
- Bilateral Coordination
- Upper-Limb Coordination
- Response Speed
- Visual-Motor Control
- Upper-Limb Speed and Dexterity
Developmentally appropriate physical education strategies based on comprehensive assessment employed by the clinical instructors and student teachers is another outcome of the lab. Learning to provide appropriate instructional techniques to help the students realize their physical potential is reinforced.
In addition to the Teaching Lab, the adapted physical education program provides a variety of other practical service-learning experiences. Service-learning is a method of teaching that helps future teachers learn and develop by participating in experiences that meet real needs in the community. It is integrated with the students' academic work and connects real life with the classroom, helps foster civic responsibility, and provides time for students to reflect on the service experience. The specific experiences that the students' select are dependent upon their past experiences, present competencies, and desired goals. They might include:
- Observing special education classes in the public schools
- Assisting experienced teachers in adapted physical education classes
- Planning, assessing, and evaluating individualized programs for students with disabilities
- Participating in interdisciplinary staffings for particular students
- Working with parents of students with disabilities
- Evaluating the effectiveness of teaching strategies through videotaped lessons