Membership in inclusive classrooms: Middle school students' perceptions
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAdolescents at this age seriously contemplate who they are, who their friends are, and with whom they belong. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore the characteristics of classroom membership as perceived by middle school students themselves and for their classmates with severe disabilities. Two inclusive middle schools were selected which consisted of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade levels. A total of fifty-one middle school students participated in the main study, of whom four students had severe disabilities. Seven focus group discussions and 16 individual interviews were conducted to obtain a fuller understanding of students' descriptions of perceptions on classroom membership for students with and without severe disabilities. Videotaped recordings were made in the inclusive classrooms such as science, math, art, and drama. Interview data analysis was conducted following the coding procedures such as the constant comparative method used in qualitative research. Videotaped observation notes were analyzed to confirm findings obtained from the interviews. In general, findings showed that middle school students perceived that having friends in class, peer interactions, actively participating in the class activities, and obtaining good grades indicated a student was a member of the class. Students perceived that teachers made them feel like members when the teachers respected them, treated them equally, had no favorites, appreciated students' work, and called on everybody to participate in the class. Students associated class activities with classroom membership. They felt part of the class when class work was fun, active, interesting, and meaningful. Students perceived similar indicators of membership for their classmates with severe disabilities. In conclusion, findings provided implications for teachers to facilitate membership and a sense of belonging for middle school students with and without disabilities in their inclusive classrooms.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Special Education and Rehabilitation