Student & ECR Spotlight – Giampiero Tarantino’s PhD is focused on PE teachers’ attitudes toward children with disabilities and special educational needs to increase their level of physical activity

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

I obtained my BSc and my MSc (1st class with Hons) in Sport Science and Education at the University of Pisa in Italy. I began working as a Physical Education teacher in high school, and as a Rugby Coach for the Italian Rugby Federation. Moreover, I worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach in diverse sports (Rugby, Football, Basketball). During my experience as a coach I worked both with senior and junior teams.


I have been interested in Sport and Education since my high school, and during my years as a teacher, I found many difficulties teaching students with disabilities in my regular Physical Education (PE) classes. Therefore, this experience led me to quit my job as a teacher and undertake my current PhD, which is funded by the Irish Research Council. 


How would you briefly describe your current research/job to someone who is not familiar with your field of study/work? What is your main research interest?

It is widely known that children with special educational need and disabilities (SEND) are less physically active than their peers without disabilities. Moreover, they are still not fully included in physical education classes in mainstreaming schools, which are one of the main contexts where they can move and stay active. One of the most important barriers is PE teachers’ attitudes toward the inclusion of pupils with SEND. My research focuses on attitudes’ predictors. In particular, the main interest of my research is finding predictors-based pedagogical strategies that could be helpful for PE teachers in order to include children with SEND and increase their physical activity level.


What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?

Finding the participants for my pilot study was certainly a big barrier that I recently experienced. Conducting quantitative research involves delivering questionnaires to participants (i.e., PE teachers) who sometimes are not willing to either take part in the study or to answer the questions. Moreover, the pilot study requires meeting the participants face-to-face in order to discuss the feasibility of the questionnaire. Therefore, meeting PE teachers from different schools was a challenging barrier to face.


What could help you as a student/ECR to further develop/grow in your current position?

Sharing knowledge, experience, and interests have been worthwhile for my personal development, thus far. In particular, both the NESI workshop and the ISBNPA annual meeting have been an excellent context for meeting researchers from different fields and Universities. I am currently collaborating with researchers met during the ISBNPA Conference 2019, which is positively impacting my skills and knowledge as a researcher. 


What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field? 

I am firmly certain that the next most important development in the physical activity field should be focusing more on the needs of people (in particular, children) with special educational needs and disabilities. I believe that increasing their levels of physical activities will be valuable for them and their families.



You can get in touch with Giampiero via email: [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @GiampieroTarant