Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Marion Coleman-Lopatic

Committee Members

David Cihak, Tara Moore, Christopher Skinner


Engagement in physical activity can provide holistic social and health benefits for individuals with and without disabilities at all age levels. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities report having limited social networks outside of immediate caregivers and family members as well as less involvement in community recreational activities. Also, this population has been identified as having increased health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes due to a more sedentary lifestyle. The purpose of this dissertation was to evaluate the use of group oriented interventions for college age students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to increase physical activity. Chapter I of this dissertation includes a discussion on of the benefits and barriers of engagement in physical activity for individuals with disabilities as well as effective practices to increase their social inclusion within society. Chapter II and III are comprised of two different single subject research designs implemented in a post-secondary education program (PSE) for college age students with I/DD to increase their level of physical activity. The first study applied a randomized interdependent group contingency and the second study analyzed the use of peer reinforcement through social media (Facebook) to increase physical activity. A discussion of the results from each study and the relevance of these results to the current literature is included in chapter IV of this dissertation.The results from these two studies were mixed between group performance and the individual outcome of each participant. A social validity questionnaire was included in both studies, which contributed supplemental findings to these two studies. Information included in this dissertation can be applied to further research that explores current barriers and inclusive practices for individuals of all ages with disabilities to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

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