Date of Graduation

12-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Brinck Kerr

Committee Member

Wen-Juo Lo

Second Committee Member

Brent Thomas Williams

Keywords

CATCH, Legislation, Middle Level Students, Middle School, Perceptions, Socialization, Students with Disability

Abstract

Recognition of the need for students with disabilities to receive free and appropriate education was brought to the forefront with the passage of Public Law 93 – 112, Rehabilitation Act in 1973. In 1975 Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was enacted requiring all schools to develop and provide a free, appropriate public education for all children and youth with disabilities in the regular classroom to ensure an appropriate education. However, mandating inclusion in classrooms does not ensure social interaction, which is an integral part of learning, especially for early adolescents.

This dissertation uses the Chedoke-McMaster Attitudes Towards Children with Handicaps (CATCH) 36-item scale to explore the propensity of early adolescent students to interact with students with a disability. With the three component scores (affective, behavioral and cognitive) of CATCH as dependent variables, three independent variables (biological sex, race, and having a friend with a disability) were investigated for the effects on early adolescents’ inclination to socially interact with children with a disability. A convenience sample of sixty-six sixth-grade students from two Northwest Arkansas schools participated in the study. The results indicated both biological sex (females and males) and whether students have friends with disabilities did not show significant differences on the dependent measures. However, white students had significantly higher affect, behavioral, and cognitive inclusive perceptions toward students with disabilities in comparison with non-White students. The results suggest race could be a factor in studying nondisabled students’ perceptions toward social inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

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