Date of Award

Summer 2001

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




For decades, researchers have provided indisputable evidence that attitudes toward children with physical disabilities are largely negative. These negative attitudes frequently result in lessened acceptance by peers and the perception of being weak, incompetent, unmotivated, less sociable, and less happy than their nondisabled classmates. Despite a trend to place students with disabilities in "regular'' education classrooms, little research is available on how school districts can effectively create an environment conducive to learning and socialization for all students. One hundred and fifty-seven students, 5th - 8th grade, served as participants for this study. Classrooms of students were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions (control, "challenge" curriculum only, "challenge" curriculum with ropes course, and ropes course only). Attitudes were measured pretest to posttest utilizing the Attitude Toward Disabled Persons Scale (ATDP). A 2 (pre/post) X 4 (group) ANOVA was employed to test the global hypothesis regarding changes in attitudes between pretest and posttest conditions. Results suggest a significant main effect for time, but no significant interaction effect between groups was evident. To further analyze individual group data, a t-test procedure for paired samples was conducted pretest to posttest within each treatment group to examine if attitudes changed significantly following the interventions. While all groups evidenced some shift suggesting more positive attitudes toward the physically disabled, the "curriculum" only group was the single group evidencing a statistically significant shift in scores. Implications regarding the finding of this study as well as suggestions for continued research are discussed. From the data, a new theory is posited suggesting that there is an optimal level of proximity and inclusion of students with physical disabilities.



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