Learning Environment and Attitudes among Mathematics Students with Specific Learning Disabilities in Self-Contained and Inclusion Classes
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Abstract of the thesis
This research involved the attitudes and classroom environment perceptions of students with specific learning disabilities in inclusion classes, general-education students in inclusion classes, and students with specific learning disabilities in self-contained classes. The What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) questionnaire was used to assess students’ perceptions of their classroom environment (Student Cohesiveness, Teacher Support, Involvement, Task Orientation, and Cooperation) and the Test Of Mathematics Related Attitudes (TOMRA) was chosen for assessing students’ attitudes (Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and Adoption of Mathematical Attitudes).
The research was carried out in Broward County Public Schools in Florida, United States, with a sample of 242 eighth-grade mathematics students (70 students with specific learning difficulties and 172 general-education students). This sample was relatively small because of the limited population of students with specific learning disabilities in each school.
In order to check the structure of the questionnaire, principal axis factor analysis with varimax rotation and Kaiser normalization was conducted. The seven-scale a priori structure of the questionnaire containing learning environment and attitude scales was supported, with 56% of the variance being accounted for.
Differences between groups were investigated using a one-way MANOVA and ANOVAs. Students with specific learning disabilities in integrated settings had higher scores than students with disabilities in separate settings on every scale, and these differences were statistically significant for Task Orientation and Enjoyment. Effect sizes were 0.70 and 0.56 standard deviations for these scales, which are moderate to large.
For students in integrated classes, general-education student had significantly higher scores than students with specific learning disabilities for all WIHIC scales and Adoption of Mathematical Attitudes, with effect sizes for these scales ranging from 0.35 to 0.51 standard deviations (moderate magnitudes). However, levels of Enjoyment were similar for general-education students and students with specific learning disabilities.
When associations between the nature of the classroom environment and students’ attitudes towards mathematics were investigated, simple correlation analysis showed that all five WIHIC scales were significantly related to each attitude scale, and multiple regression analysis revealed that every WIHIC scale except Student Cohesiveness was a significant independent predictor of each attitude scale when the other WIHIC scales were mutually controlled. All bivariate and multivariate associations were positive, which replicates considerable past research into associations between classroom environment and student attitudes.
Researcher of the Thesis
- Christine Gennis Thomas-Bell
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