04 SES 09 A, Exploring Attitudes Towards Students with Special Educational Needs
The appreciation of diversity and the open-minded interaction with people with disabilities without prejudice are indicators of a strong, healthy and caring society. Likewise, in order to develop an inclusive “good school for all” that embraces every child, fostering the appreciation of diversity among pupils is important. Placing children with disabilities in a regular classroom has been shown to be insufficient with regard to social integration of these children among their peers. Compared to typically developing children, children with physical or cognitive disabilities are usually less accepted by their peers and more socially isolated in the regular classroom (Nowicki & Sandieson, 2002). Importantly, positive attitudes towards peers with disabilities are associated with more interaction or better social participation of children with disabilities in the classroom (de Boer, Pijl, & Minnaert, 2012). Teachers have a key role, as they can help developing positive attitudes towards children with disabilities by building up knowledge, reducing stereotypes, and reflecting with children on diversity (Lindsay & Edwards, 2013). Accordingly, improving attitudes towards children with disabilities is the main goal of disability awareness interventions in schools. There is evidence that carefully designed curriculum-based intervention programs can have a positive effect on children’s attitudes (Armstrong, Morris, Abraham, & Tarrant, 2017; Lindsay & Edwards, 2013). However, the assessment of attitudes in inclusive education research is almost exclusively based on self-report scales. Although valuable, self-report measures are prone to social desirable responding which could positively bias reported attitudes. This may be a problem especially after such intervention programs, because of their explicit focus on disability awareness. Furthermore, self-report questionnaires are often unable to capture implicit stereotype and prejudice based attitudes (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995; McKeague, O’Driscoll, Hennessy, & Heary, 2015). Therefore, although self-reported attitudes may improve following disability awareness programs, it is possible that these improvements merely reflect general test-retest-effects of self-report measures (for both intervention and control groups; see Godeau et al., 2010) and that deeply overlearned, persistent and more implicitly held stereotypes remain unchanged. More implicit attitude measures such as the implicit association test (IAT; Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998) could potentially overcome these issues. Hence, we developed a study protocol to measure explicit (self-reported) as well as implicit attitude changes in children towards children with disabilities following an 8-week curriculum-based intervention program aimed to provide knowledge and reducing stereotypes about disabilities and to improve acceptance of children’s diversity. We expect to find both, more positive explicit and implicit attitudes among children in the intervention group following the intervention compared to children in the no-intervention control group. With our design, we hope to provide more insight in the nature of children’s attitudes and attitude changes and the potential of disability awareness programs to support the social participation of children with disabilities in the regular classroom.
In the study, the explicit and implicit attitudes of approximately 400 children aged 9-13 years from 24 regular classrooms from different schools in the cantons of Bern and Fribourg, Switzerland, will be assessed at two time points 8 weeks apart. Half of the 24 classes will take part in the 8-week intervention program, which consists of a series of lessons (8 x 45 min) with topics on perception of people with disabilities, reflections on own strengths and weaknesses, and the merits of people’s diversity. The lessons will be conducted by the class teachers, on the basis of a standardized protocol for each lesson and standardized material taken from the course book “Prinzip Vielfalt” (Meyer, Bühler, Eckhart, & Woodtli, 2015). The other half of the 24 classes does not take part in the intervention program and serves as a control group. Explicit attitudes of the children will be assessed using the German short version of the Chedoke-McMaster Attitudes towards Children with Handicaps scale (Rosenbaum et al., 1986; Schwab, 2015). Implicit attitudes of the children will be assessed using a self-developed, child-appropriate version of the disability implicit association test (e.g. Nosek et al., 2007; Wilson & Scior, 2015). Attitude assessment takes place immediately before and after the 8-week intervention or in an 8-week interval (control group). Because of clustered data (children in classes), improvements of explicit and implicit attitudes from pre- to post attitude assessments for the intervention and control group will be analyzed by using multilevel analyses.
The intervention and data collection will be finished in May 2018, so we aim to present first results at the time of presentation. Of main interest are attitude changes in children towards children with disabilities, where we expect significantly more positive explicit and implicit attitude changes in the intervention group compared to the control group. Because explicit attitudes are likely influenced by social desirable responding and implicit attitudes are potentially more persisting, we expect a larger effect size for the explicit attitude change between pre- and post-intervention assessments. Apart from this and based on previous studies, we expect implicit and explicit attitudes to be significantly, but only weakly, correlated (Nosek et al., 2007) and explicit attitudes to be neutral or positive overall (Schwab, 2015), while we expect implicit attitudes to be mainly negative (Wilson & Scior, 2015). We would like to discuss our findings within the light of 1) the potential of disability awareness intervention programs to improve attitudes among typically developing children and 2) the nature of attitudes and attitude change in children.
Armstrong, M., Morris, C., Abraham, C., & Tarrant, M. (2017). Interventions utilising contact with people with disabilities to improve children’s attitudes towards disability: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Disability and Health Journal, 10(1), 11–22. de Boer, A., Pijl, S. J., & Minnaert, A. (2012). Students’ Attitudes towards Peers with Disabilities: A review of the literature. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 59(4), 379–392. Godeau, E., Vignes, C., Sentenac, M., Ehlinger, V., Navarro, F., Grandjean, H., & Arnaud, C. (2010). Improving attitudes towards children with disabilities in a school context: a cluster randomized intervention study: Improving Attitudes Towards Children with Disabilities. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 52(10), e236–e242. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8749.2010.03731.x Greenwald, A. G., & Banaji, M. R. (1995). Implicit social cognition: attitudes, self-esteem, and stereo-types. Psychological Review, 102(1), 4–27. Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: the implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(6), 1464–1480. Lindsay, S., & Edwards, A. (2013). A systematic review of disability awareness interventions for children and youth. Disability and Rehabilitation, 35(8), 623–646. McKeague, L., O’Driscoll, C., Hennessy, E., & Heary, C. (2015). Using implicit measures to explore children’s intergroup attitudes: methodological and practical considerations for researchers. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18(1), 1–13. Meyer, F., Bühler, G., Eckhart, M., & Woodtli, E. (2015). Prinzip Vielfalt: Unterrichtsbausteine zum Thema Anderssein und Gleichsein. Rorschach: Lehrmittelverlag St. Gallen. Nosek, B. A., Smyth, F. L., Hansen, J. J., Devos, T., Lindner, N. M., Ranganath, K. A., … Banaji, M. R. (2007). Pervasiveness and correlates of implicit attitudes and stereotypes. European Review of Social Psychology, 18(1), 36–88. Nowicki, E. A., & Sandieson, R. (2002). A Meta-Analysis of School-Age Children’s Attitudes Towards Persons with Physical or Intellectual Disabilities. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 49(3), 243–265. Rosenbaum, P. L., Armstrong, R. W., & King, S. M. (1986). Children’s attitudes toward disabled peers: a self-report measure. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 11(4), 517–530. Schwab, S. (2015). Einflussfaktoren auf die Einstellung von SchülerInnen gegenüber Peers mit unter-schiedlichen Behinderungen. Zeitschrift für Entwicklungspsychologie und Pädagogische Psychologie, 47(4), 177–187. Wilson, M. C., & Scior, K. (2015). Implicit Attitudes towards People with Intellectual Disabilities: Their Relationship with Explicit Attitudes, Social Distance, Emotions and Contact. PLOS ONE, 10(9), e0137902. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0137902
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