04 SES 13 B, Consulting Students with SEN; Challenges and Opportunities
Recent research focusing on social participation has consistently reported that students with learning disabilities are less accepted and more rejected by their typically achieving classmates, they tend to occupy a less favorable social position in their class network, they have fewer friendships and generally experience more social difficulties than their average-to-high-achieving peers (Bossaert, Colpin, Pijl & Petry, 2013). Nevertheless, they do manage to participate in peer groups and develop some friendships (Avramidis, 2010). The ways in which they manage to overcome their social marginalization remains largely an under-researched topic. Notwithstanding the value of existing quantitative research in the field (Petry, 2018; Schwab, 2018), it is crucial to adopt qualitative research designs in order to listen to the students’ voice, thus gaining a rich understanding of their perceived social participation. The present study sought to elicit the social experiences of twenty students with moderate learning difficulties in regular secondary education settings in Greece. The research focus was placed on the students’ perceived understanding of the peer acceptance they enjoyed within their class network and their perceptions of the quality of their best friendship. The participating students were drawn from a larger sociometric study in which they had been classified as possessing either low or medium social status. The interviews were guided by a schedule containing questions relating to various dimensions of friendship quality based on the theoretical framework advocated by Bukowski and his collaborators (Bukowski, Hoza & Boivin, 1994). Thematic analysis was performed involving the systematic coding of the data and the emergence of thematic categories. Despite their low to medium social status within their class network, the participating students with learning disabilities had managed to become members of peer groups and, more importantly, to maintain at least one best friendship outside their class. The reported best friendships were described as of high quality indicating their important role on the students’ psychosocial development. The evidence suggests that students with moderate learning difficulties manage to overcome their poor social standing within their class network by establishing friendships through non-academic activities. While such outcomes can be seen as positive, the students’ insufficient social participation within their class and, by extension, limited adjustment remains a challenging issue. The presentation concludes with outlining the importance of cultivating the students’ sense of school belonging through implementing relevant school-based interventions.
Avramidis, E. (2010). Social relationships of pupils with special educational needs in the mainstream primary class: peer group membership and peer‐assessed social behaviour. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 25(4), 413-429. Bossaert, G., Colpin, H., Pijl, S. J., & Petry, K. (2013). Truly included? A literature study focusing on the social dimension of inclusion in education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(1), 60-79. Bukowski, W. M., Hoza, B. & Boivin, M. (1994). Measuring friendship quality during pre-and early adolescence: The development and psychometric properties of the Friendship Qualities Scale. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 11(3), 471-484. Petry, K. (2018). The relationship between class attitudes towards peers with a disability and peer acceptance, friendships and peer interactions of students with a disability in regular secondary schools. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 33(2), 254-268. Schwab, S. (2018). Friendship stability among students with and without special educational needs. Educational Studies, 1-12.
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