Including children with special needs in Physical Education at a public school in Denmark by using Co-teaching: A Qualitative Design Based Research

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The number of children with special needs as autism, ADHD and anxiety are increasing in Denmark. These children are less physical active in their daily life, and they have a poorer mental health. About 9% of the children in the Danish public schools have special needs and 1/3 of these children do not like to go to school, and/or exempt from a subject, which most often is Physical Education (PE) (DH, 2020). PE Teachers also find it difficult to teach children with special needs (Zeelen et al., 2018). Co-teaching (CT) is a systematic pedagogical collaborative approach (Friend, 2017), which have shown good results for including children with special needs in academic settings, but CT has not yet been tested in PE.
The overall research question is: Can co-teaching as a teaching approach create better opportunities including children with special needs in PE?
The empirical research toke place in one public school in Denmark, 2021. Two PE teams participated consisting of two-three teachers and classes in each. Our research is based on Design Based Research (Armstrong et al, 2020). Four focus group interviews with the PE teams before and after the research period, 10 participant observations of PE lessons on each team, and 10 individual semi-structered interviews with pupils with special needs. The empirical framework was analyzed by use of micro-sociologist Erving Goffman’s theory about Stigma (2009) and Role Play (2014).
Findings shows that systematic use of CT can include more children with special needs in PE. Especially small groups and a consistent sharing of the teacher role in PE has a positive influence. The PE teacher’s attention to team formation is very important, otherwise it can make exclusion. CT can also create resistance to change among the teachers if they experience to little preparation time or loss of self-control.
Translated title of the contributionInklusion af børn med særlige behov i idrætsundervisningen i Danmark med co-teaching som indsats: Et kvalitativt design based research forskningsprojekt
Original languageEnglish
Publication date4 May 2023
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2023
Event16th Research Conference: Nordic Network on Disability Research - Hotel Reykjavik Grand, Hilton Hotel and ÖBÍ, Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 10 May 202312 May 2023
Conference number: 16th


Conference16th Research Conference
LocationHotel Reykjavik Grand, Hilton Hotel and ÖBÍ
OtherThe Nordic Network on Disability Research looks forward to welcoming you to its 16th biennial conference on 10-12 May 2023 in Reykjavík, Iceland.<br/><br/>The conference brings together researchers, policy makers, activists and practitioners to share sc...
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  • public school
  • children and youth
  • sports

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