Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership



First Reader/Committee Chair

Marita Mahoney


An exploratory case study design and a mixed-methods approach was used to discover the impact of the Activity Bursts in the Classroom (ABC) Fitness Program on students in special education classroom settings, elementary and middle school. Both classrooms were comprised of students with the primary disability of emotional disturbance. Special education intervention teachers’ perceptions of their students engagement and behavior were collected before and during the implementation of the ABC for Fitness Program intervention. Special education intervention teachers completed the Teacher Assessment of Student Engagement, participated in an ABC for Fitness training session, a question and answer session, completed daily written behavior incident logs, a mid-point check-in, and a semi-structured interview. There were four themes found throughout the research. Intervention teachers perceptions’ of student engagement increased as the students enjoyed the ABC for Fitness Program activities. The classroom environment was improved through improving the student to teacher relationship, the ABC for Fitness Program intervention required adaptations for student success to the timing (e.g. length and number of times the exercises and cool down were implemented) ), structure, and the additional of visual cue cards (e.g. Fit Deck cards). The special education intervention teachers faced specific challenges unique to their setting such as structure and focus. Results indicated three main findings: 1) Special education intervention teachers’ perceptions of student engagement during the intervention improved; 2) Special education teachers needed to be able to adapt program to suit their students’ specific needs; and, 3) The ABC for Fitness Program was beneficial to participating special education intervention teachers’ classrooms environment in promoting positive interactions between students and staff.

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