Date of Award

Fall 12-2019

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

First Advisor

Audra Classen

Second Advisor

JoAnn Judge

Advisor Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education; Human Performance and Recreation


Self-determination is a vital skill for individuals with disabilities and provides significant benefits, such as more positive adult outcomes and greater quality of life. Recreational sports participation is another fundamental aspect of life for individuals with disabilities, as it leads to increased physical activity, enhanced self-esteem, and improved peer acceptance. Despite the well-researched benefits of both self-determination skills and recreational sports participation, a literature review revealed few studies that examined the relationship between self-determination and recreational sports participation for individuals, particularly adolescents, with disabilities. This mixed methods study was designed to fill this void, using questionnaires, interviews, and observations to explore the intersection of self-determination and recreational sports participation for adolescents with disabilities. The results of the study suggested that students and parents had not considered self-determination in conjunction with recreational sports. Categories and themes derived from qualitative analyses supported the quantitative analyses indicating that three rounds of self-determination coaching and feedback combined with action plans improved student self-determination. The results provide significant implications for coaches, parents, and teachers to promote and support self-determination within recreational sports environments. Future research should continue to explore ways to support the development of self-determined activities and abilities for individuals with disabilities within recreational sports, enhancing the generalizability of the present study and expanding the findings to provide models for infusing self-determined learning opportunities within recreational sports for adolescents with disabilities.


Honors College Award: Excellence in Research