This article was written by Bonnie Dupuis, Facilitator for Inclusive Practices, Polk County Schools; Joyce W. Barclay, Florida Inclusion Network Facilitator, Polk County Public Schools; Sherwin D. Holmes, Director of Exceptional Student Education, Polk County Schools; Morgan Platt, Assessment, Accountability & Evaluation, Polk County Public Schools; Steven H. Shaha, Director of Research & Evaluation, Performance & Growth through Impacts (PGI); and Valerie K. Lewis, President and CEO, PGI.
This research focused on verifying the impacts of inclusion on both students with disabilities and their regular education classmates. The authors’ focused specifically on quantifying the attitudinal impacts of inclusion. Student surveys were developed by three high school leaders, three district inclusion personnel, a university expert in exceptional student education, and two professional survey design experts. The student survey was developed in two version. One version for special education students and the other version for general education students. All items required a response except for two open-ended questions. All students voluntarily completed the survey in the same week and the response rate was 100%. Respondents included 364 high school students enrolled in inclusive classrooms. That included 266 regular education students and 98 special education students. Responses for Likert-scaled items were categorized as favorable when group means were equal to or great than 2.5.
As a result of the survey, the authors’ concluded that students with disabilities (SWD) had increased motivation and fulfillment, and reported being focused and successful, academically and socially. Data showed that included SWD reported tendencies to “work harder to learn” in the inclusive classroom settings. Regular education students reported favorable ratings for six of the 15 items while unfavorable results were reported for the remaining nine. However, the authors’ found the unfavorable responses to be misleading. Survey results showed 47 percent of regular education students were unaware that there were special education students in the classroom. A total of 76.7 percent of regular ed students reported little or no awareness of SWD in their classes. As a result, the authors’ divided regular ed students into “aware” and “unaware” categories and further analyzed their responses. Those results reveled statistically significant correlations between attitudinal ratings and levels of awareness. The greater the awareness of included students, the higher the attitudinal ratings were for the regular ed students. Finally, using Spearman’s Rho, statistically significant correlations were verified for every survey item, and every item had a p-value of less than .001.
The results show the positive attitudinal impacts of inclusion on both students with disabilities and general education students. Students with disabilities reported being motivated, fulfilled, focused and successful both academically and socially. Furthermore SWD reported better social and learning environments in inclusive settings furthering their motivation to learn and work harder. For general education students, the highest attitudes were correlated with higher awareness of the inclusion of peers with disabilities. The authors’ also concluded that regular education students were on the whole unaware of the included students and unable to identify SWD in their inclusive classes. Finally, the authors’ noted the need for further research involving other age groups.
This research contributed to the field of inclusion in that it provided data that showed positive attitudinal ratings of general and special education students. Data showed that inclusion is mutually beneficial to both groups. Research has shown a correlation between attitudinal impacts and achievement gains for students in general so the data presented on inclusion helps make that connection to special education students.
The data in this article was great. I had seen research that SWD reported favorable attitudes toward inclusive classrooms but I had not seen the attitudinal impacts of their general education peers. First, the fact that they were unaware of the included students was a powerful piece. Second, the higher the level of awareness the more positive the students felt about their included peers. This does leave a problem. With the issue of anonymity so important with special education students, how can we increase the awareness of their general education peers?
Article review #7
Amy Redell ED 593Heritage University
Bonnie Dupuis, MA Joyce W. Barclay, Ed.S. Sherwin D. Holmes, MS Morgan Platt Steven H. Shaha, Ph.D. Valerie K. Lewis, MAP
Focus on impacts of inclusion for regular and special education students Student surveys given to 364 students ◦ 266 regular education ◦ 98 special education Likert-scaled items favorable at a mean of 2.5
SWD: increased motivation, focused, and work harder to learn Regular Ed: classified as “aware” and “unaware” with favorable attitudes toward SWD Statistically significant: p<.001
Positive attitudinal impacts of inclusion ◦ SWD ◦ General education Benefits: motivation, social, positive learning environment, attitudes Future research
Quantitative data showing positive attitudinal ratings Mutually beneficial Correlation between attitudinal impacts and achievement gains
Students with disabilities had positive attitudes toward inclusion General education: higher level of awareness, higher levels of satisfaction Increasing awareness of general education students
Dupuis, B., Barclay, J. W., Holmes, S. D., Platt, M., Shaha, S. H., & Lewis, V. K. (2006). Does inclusion help students: perspectives from regular education and students with disabilities. Retrieved from http://aasep.org/aasep-publications/journal-of- the-american-academy-of-special-education- professionals-jaasep/jaasep-summer-2006/does- inclusion-help-students-perspectives-from- regular-education-and-students-with- disabilities/index.html.