The impact of contact on students' attitudes towards peers with disabilities
MetadataShow full item record
This study aimed to understand the relationship between contact with peers with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and students' attitudes towards their peers with SEN, by examining the inter-group contact theory in regular and inclusive classes. A total of 463 students in 8th grade, with a mean age of 14.42 years, from 25 secondary school classes in Styria (Austria) completed a self-report questionnaire regarding their contact with peers with SEN and their attitudes towards peers with disabilities. Contact was indicated by nominations for joint activities and examined in inclusive and regular classes. The German short version of the Chedoke-McMaster Attitudes towards Children with Handicaps scale (CATCH; Schwab, 2015b; Rosenbaum et al., 1986) was used to measure students' attitudes towards peers with learning disabilities and emotional disorders. Students with SEN are less frequently nominated by their peers for joint activities, such as working together on a school project. Students from inclusive and regular classes did not differ in their attitudes towards peers with SEN. However, those students who nominated at least one peer with SEN for a joint activity had more positive attitudes towards peers with disabilities. Freely choosing contact with a peer with SEN was associated with more positive attitudes towards disability while simply attending the same class may have no effect or even a negative impact on students' attitudes.
- Faculty of Humanities