Master Thesis Public Defense: Madison & Joshua


11.00: Madison Farnsworth - EMSEP
Coaches’ perspectives on positive youth development through life skills

Supervising Committee:  Goudas Μ., Hatzigeorgiadis A., Kokaridas D.


Positive youth development (PYD) has been long examined and researchers are still developing ways to create opportunities for youth development through sport. Additionally, the 5Cs (competence, confidence, character, caring, & connection) have been associated with PYD and contributing to life skills development. Thus, the current study aimed to understand the phenomenological experience of coaches’ strategies to enhance PYD in sport, and in particular rugby. Ten male rugby coaches who are members of a national youth rugby team participated in semi-structured interviews. The ages ranged between 29-52 years old and with coaching experience ranging from 2.5 years to 25 years. A top-down analysis was performed during thematic processing with 7 (5Cs model, PYD, and the transferability of learned skills). Results revealed 260 extracted statements in line with mentioned themes and various subthemes emerged from each main theme. This suggests that rugby coaches aim to enhance PYD by creating positive experience for athletes, establishing coach-athlete relationship, helping athletes to understand morality, encouraging athletes to experience empathy, encouraging youth to be part of their developmental process, and ensuring dedication. In summary, the findings suggest that the rugby coaches take notice of their influence on athletes’ developmental process and their experience within sport and create a versatile learning environment.

Keywords: rugby, life skills, developmental process, positive learning experience, supportive influences

11.30: Joshua Jenkins-EMSEP
The Motivation of a Paralympic Athlete with autism and challenges associated with competing professionally

Supervising Committee: Kokaridas D., Goudas M.  Hatzigeorgiadis A


Not much information is out there about encouraging sports for people who are autistic. Autism is a neurological developmental disorder that causes impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal miscommunication, and restricted and repetitive behaviors (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). People with autism should have the opportunity to learn how to regulate emotions and develop social and motor skills in order to survive in society. Sports provides a gateway for people with autism to develop social skills, emotion regulation, and motor skills. Self-Efficacy Theory is the belief of an individual’s capabilities to plan out and achieve what they set out to do (Bandura, 1997). Additionally, an athlete can become motivated through autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 2011). Furthermore, based on the Social Motivation Theory, social orienting, seeking-liking, and social maintaining can be transpired through sports (Chevallier, Kohls, Troiani, Brodkin, & Schultz, 2012). I conducted a case study on a Paralympic athlete who is autistic and interviewed the athlete and his coach via phone interviews and in person. The purpose is to see how running has impacted him socially and emotionally and how he has been influenced to succeed. This research will help coaches to realize the importance of how sports can play an important role in teaching skills that can apply to life.

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