Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Chair; Lee Williams, PhD, Member; Mary Woods Scherr, PhD, Member


Adapted physical education, community colleges, disabilities, enrollment issues, exercise mediators, higher education, San Diego County (California), students


Most community colleges in California offer adapted physical education (APE) courses specifically designed to assist people with disabilities and chronic diseases in adapting and maintaining exercise programs. However, little is known about those eligible to enroll in these courses as well as their participation profiles; as such, the primary purpose of this study was to determine why some eligible community college students with disabilities do not enroll in APE courses as well as to determine what relationship demographics and exercise participation profiles have on physical activity participation. Data for this study was gathered through a web-based survey of 163 college students with disabilities enrolled in eight community colleges in Southern California. Results clearly indicated that students with disabilities were significantly more likely to have taken a regular PE class (36.8%) than an APE class (22.1%); the three most popular reasons for not taking an APE class were that students exercised on their own, attended regular PE, or were not aware that APE was being offered. In addition, a strong relationship was found between the number of APE or PE courses enrolled in and semesters of college completed as well as the decisional balance score. Although highly intuitive, these findings suggest that the longer students are in school the greater their chance of completing some type of physical education course and those students who see more advantages than disadvantages in exercise are also more likely to enroll in a physical activity course. Regression analysis was also used to show that both decisional balance and exercise self-efficacy were important predictors of the stage of exercise change score. Although a number of policy recommendations follow from the results of this study, the two most important involve applying and assessing the APE promotion techniques listed by the respondents to increase participation in APE classes, as well as conducting a longitudinal analysis to examine how APE participation changes future attitudes about exercising. In this manner, schools can use these results to both promote APE classes to those that have never enrolled and for those that have, provide evidence that the classes had real long-term value.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access