04 SES 07 B, Social Participation
One of the most promising service delivery models to meet the needs of students with SEN in mainstream classes is co-teaching. Co-teaching involves two professionals, often a special education teacher and a general education teacher, who jointly deliver instruction to students with and without disabilities in a single physical space (Friend & Cook, 1995). Greece has endorsed a ‘co-taught model’ whereby a Special Education Teacher (SET) is allocated to a child with SEN with a view to supporting this child within mainstream classrooms. Children who learn in co-taught classrooms are usually those who experience high to medium functioning autism, mild intellectual disabilities and mild physical or sensory disabilities. This policy has been claimed by the Ministry of Education to promote the academic and social inclusion of these pupils. However, there is a gap in the literature with regard to the effectiveness of this service delivery model. The study reported here sought to fill this gap by examining through sociometric and observational techniques the social outcomes of co-taught arrangements in Greece. It is towards presenting a brief review of sociometric studies that we turn next.
Research has consistently shown that pupils with SEN remain less accepted by and may experience greater loneliness than their non-SEN peers. For example, in a meta-analysis of 17 sociometric studies conducted in the US between 1978 and 1991, pupils accredited with SEN had significantly reduced social status compared to their mainstream peers (Ochoa and Olivarez 1995). More recent reviews of the literature have also concluded that children with SEN in inclusive classes have a less favourable social position and experience more social difficulties than their average to high-achieving peers (Nowicki 2003; Ruijs and Peetsma 2009). What is worrying is that similar findings have been reported across different national school systems including the UK (Nabuzoka and Smith 1993), Holland (Koster et al 2010), Norway (Pijl, Frostad and Flem, 2008), Spain (Cambra and Silvestre 2003) and Israel (Tur-Kaspa et al. 1999). It is notable that pupils with motor impairments and pupils with intellectual impairments are commonly observed to have fewer problems in their contact with peers than pupils with behaviour problems or pupils with autism (De Monchy et al. 2004; Chamberlain et al. 2007).
With the above literature in mind, this study will focus on children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and children with intellectual disability (ID) as these groups are under considerable risk of marginalization. Specifically, the study aims:
(a) to examine the social position these pupils occupy in their classroom’s network and
(b) to determine the levels of their social interaction during free time with peers.
This study differs from previous research efforts in three respects. First, it seeks to determine the social status of pupils with ASD and ID placed in co-taught classes. Second, it combines sociometric evidence with observational data obtained during break times. Third, the study examines the longitudinal stability of social status and actual social interaction over a period of one academic year.
Cambra, C. and Silvestre, N. (2003). Students with SEN in the inclusive classroom: social integration and self-concept. European Journal of Special Needs Education 18, 197-208. Chamberlain, B., Kasari, C., & Rotheram-Fuller, E. (2007). Involvement or isolation? The social networks of children with autism in regular classrooms.Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 37, 230-242. Cook, L., & Friend, M. (1995). Co-teaching: Guidelines for creating effective practices. Focus in Exceptional Children, 28, 1-16. De Monchy, M., S.J. Pijl and Zandberg, T. (2004). Discrepancies in judging social inclusion and bullying of pupils with behaviour problems. European Journal of Special Needs Education 19, 317 - 330. Koster, M., Pijl, S.J., Nakken, H. and Van Houten, E. (2010). Social participation of students with special needs in regular primary education in the Netherlands. International Journal of Disability, Development, and Education 57, 59-75. Nabuzoka, D. and Smith, P.K. (1993). Sociometric status and social behaviour of children with and without learning difficulties. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 34, 1435-1448. Nowicki, E.A. (2003). A meta-analysis of the social competence of children with learning disabilities compared to classmates of low and average to high achievement. Learning Disability Quarterly 26, 171-188. Ochoa, S.H. and Olivarez, A. (1995). Meta-analysis of peer rating sociometric studies of pupils with LD. Journal of Special Education 29, 1-19. Pijl, S.J., Frostad, P. and Flem, A. (2008). The social position of pupils with special needs in regular schools. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 52, 387-405. Ruijs, N.M. and Peetsma, T.D. (2009). Effects of inclusion on students with and without special educational needs reviewed. Educational Research Review, 4, 67-69. Tur‐Kaspa, H., Margalit, M., & Most, T. (1999). Reciprocal friendship, reciprocal rejection and socio‐emotional adjustment: the social experiences of children with learning disorders over a one‐year period. European journal of special needs education, 14(1), 37-48.
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