Evaluation of Behavioural Skills Training with Volunteers Teaching Motor Skills to Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Reaching early motor milestones is essential for positive growth and development. Individuals with developmental disabilities may fail to reach these milestones due to gross and fine motor impairments. However, very few physical education programs address motor development issues that may be a concern for individuals with developmental disabilities. The Special Needs Activity Program at Brock University capitalizes on university student volunteers to support individuals with developmental disabilities in developing motor skills. Evaluating various methods to train these volunteers may positively impact training outcomes, and save valuable time and resources. This research employed a mixed methods evaluation to evaluate volunteer training through: (1) a component analysis of behavioural skills training for teaching volunteers how to also use this methodology to support individuals with developmental disabilities in a movement program; and (2) a thematic analysis of the volunteers’ experiences and approaches to teaching this population. The component analysis results were variable across participants; however, following all training phases, all volunteers met a predetermined performance criterion. Through a qualitative analysis five themes in the volunteers’ approach to teaching individuals with developmental disabilities were identified: individualization, respect, collaboration, flexibility, and commitment. Strengths and limitations of this evaluation are discussed and recommendations for future research are provided.