FIRST SEMESTER SPECIAL EDUCATION MAJORS, EXPOSURE AND ATTITUDE CHANGE TOWARD MENTALLY RETARDED PUPILS

LAURA GEBINER LANDIS, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study investigated the effect of exposure to children with mentally retarded development (CRMD) on the attitude toward them of first semester special education majors. Specifically the study concerned itself with the attitudes of a group of first semester special education majors toward CRMD with their preference for teaching them, with their attitude toward children in general, and with effects of previous contact or kinship with mentally retarded on their attitudes toward such children. It has been emphasized that the attitudes of teachers constitute a significant component of the learning process and of the adjustment process of children. It, therefore, seemed important to explore the role of exposure in promoting positive attitudes toward CRMD.^ Participants were drawn from classes in special education sequence in a large urban college school of education. Subjects were 94 first semester special education majors enrolled in the course. The experimental group, N = 50, was placed in classes for CRMD and the control group, N = 44, was placed in regular element classes, K through sixth grade, in a public elementary school setting for a 15 week semester.^ During the first day of classes prior to placement, subjects were administered the Semantic Differential to ascertain their attitudes toward CRMD. The Attitude Toward Exceptional Children Scale was administered to determine preference for teaching the mentally retarded. The Minnesota Teacher Attitude Inventory (MTAI) was administered to determine attitude toward children. A Biographical Inventory was administered to determine whether subjects had had contact or kinship with mentally retarded individuals prior to entering the program. At semester's conclusion subjects were re-administered all the instruments except the Biographical Inventory.^ It was hypothesized that exposure to CRMD would result in more positive attitudes toward them, in greater preference for teaching them, in more positive attitudes toward children, and that attitudes toward CRMD would be attributable to a previous contact or kinship effect.^ One-way analysis of variance was applied to each of the four pretest measures. Analysis of covariance, using the Semantic Differential pretest as covariate, was applied on the posttest, and one-way analysis on the other two posttest measures. Analysis of the data indicated that the relevant null hypotheses for the first three criteria were rejected; the fourth was accepted. ^ Results indicated that student observers exposed to CRMD in the classroom had more favorable attitudes toward them than did student observers exposed to children in regular classes. However, in regard to preference for teaching CRMD, results indicated that the control group had a greater preference for teaching CRMD, and this preference increased from pretest to posttest, while the reverse was true for the experimental group. More positive attitudes toward children as measured by the MTAI were also found in the control group following the placement in the school, while the experimental group revealed only a slight increase in a positive direction. No significant difference was found between those who had had previous contacts or kinship with mentally retarded and those who did not, in their expressed attitudes toward CRMD.^ A number of possible factors were offered as explanations for the fact that, although the experimental group had more positive attitudes toward CRMD following exposure, it did not prefer to teach them. The influence of extraneous variables and variables not controlled in the study were also discussed. Among suggestions for future research were study of additional variables, influences, and teaching procedures. ^

Subject Area

Special education

Recommended Citation

LANDIS, LAURA GEBINER, "FIRST SEMESTER SPECIAL EDUCATION MAJORS, EXPOSURE AND ATTITUDE CHANGE TOWARD MENTALLY RETARDED PUPILS" (1981). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8109082.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8109082

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