Nancy Spencer, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation - Academic Programs

Pronouns: she, her, hers


Associate Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation - Academic Programs
(780) 492-9615
3-415 Van Vliet Complex - West
8831 - 116 St NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H9




PhD (Physical Education), University of Alberta, 2008

MA (Physical Education), University of Alberta, 1999

BA (Arts), University of Alberta, 1996


The best part of my job is working with people, whether it be through teaching, research, or service. In particular, I adore working with undergraduate and graduate students. I loved my own University of Alberta experiences as a student; I did my graduate studies (Masters and PhD) in adapted physical activity in KSR and an undergraduate degree in linguistics in the Faculty of Arts. The world has changed significantly since that time, but one thing has not, our need for connection. If our paths should cross, I hope to be a part of a great experience for you too.


I am committed to understanding what creates meaningful experiences in play, sport (parasport), and recreation for all people, and specifically people who experience marginalization. My research has primarily engaged with children and youth who experience disability using qualitative methodologies. Recently, my scholarship is becoming more relational and turning toward community-based work, where the voices of communities are centralized.

Current Research Projects:

• Modern Love in the Mountains: This community-based research project is with Rocky Mountain Adaptive, a Canmore-based non-profit, multi-sport organization, offering accessible outdoor experiences in sport and adventure activities for all individuals who wish to participate. This project is evolving, guided by the needs of the organization and the individuals and families it supports.

• Social Inclusion, Sport for Development and Peace, and Community-Based Research: Free play for kids: Along with KSR colleagues, this 3 year SSHRC funded project examines a non-profit, grassroots, sport-for-development organization in providing socially inclusive, no-cost sporting opportunities for refugees and immigrants.

• Physical Activity and Children with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH)?: The Perspectives of Parents and Children: Along with colleagues at the Children’s Stollery Hospital and Dalhousie University, this study explores the challenges to community and school physical activity for children diagnosed with PAH.

• Re-Envisioning inclusion: Exploring the (re)production of child culture with children with Autism/who are Autistic: Together with a colleague from Dalhousie University, this study expands our understanding of child culture driven by young people who identify as autistic/with autism.

Previous Research Projects:

• Inclusion in the Field(s) of Dreams?: A SSHRC funded project exploring how integrated and specialized sport settings impact the experiences of athletes who experience disability.

• The Forest School Project: A case study examining nature based play in an early learning outdoor experience from the perspectives of teachers, parents and kindergarten children.

• Project Citizenship: A collaborative project with the Skills Society of Edmonton, a human services organization that supports people who experience disability, their families and allies. The purpose of the research is to examine the impact of a Skills Society led initiative designed to create social change through the lens of citizenship.


I supervise both Masters and PhD students interested in a range of social issues touching on the areas of physical activity, sport, and recreation using primarily qualitative methodologies. Previous graduate student projects include: Inclusion in recess and children who experience disability; The experiences of athletes in women’s Paralympic sport; Access to recreation for youth living with low income.

I typically teach in the areas of adapted physical activity and child and youth physical activity:

KRLS 207: Physical Activity and Leisure for Diverse Populations

KIN 293: Movement Activities for Young Children

KIN 471: Physical Activity for Individuals with Developmental Impairments

KRS 530: Adapted Physical Activity (graduate course)

KRS 541: Sport and Physical Activity for Children and Youth (graduate course)


KIN 471 - Physical Activity for Individuals with Developmental Impairments

A focus on the delivery of adapted physical activity services to individuals with developmental impairments with a focus on the instruction of movement skills. Theory and practice will be integrated through lecture and lab activities. Prerequisite: KRLS 207. Note: Credit will be granted for only one of KIN 471 or PEDS 471.

KRLS 207 - Adapted Physical Activity and Leisure for Diverse Populations

An introduction to research, theory and practice pertaining to participation in physical activity and leisure by persons with impairments. The course explores the intersection of social influences and personal interests on participation in active lifestyles. Credit will be granted for only one of KRLS 207 or PERLS 207.

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