The effect of special class placement on the self -concept of learning -disabled children

Audrey Ann Recht, Fordham University


This study investigated the effect of special class placement on the self-concept of learning disabled children. Previous research has not provided consistent, clear-cut results on whether placement into resource room and self-contained classes has detrimental effects on self-concept due to stigmatizing labels and instructional segregation from the regular school population.^ The subjects consisted of 170 children attending an intermediate public school located in a low socio-economic area. There were four experimental groups of learning disabled children, and one comparison group of children in regular classes. One set of two experimental groups consisted of children in regular classes recommended to resource room or a self-contained class. The other set of two experimental groups consisted of children in resource room or a self-contained class for approximately 3 years.^ The subjects were administered the Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale, a self-report instrument which yielded a Total Self-Concept and six cluster scores labeled: Behavior, Intellectual and School Status, Physical Appearance and Attributes, Anxiety, Popularity, and Happiness and Satisfaction. Analyses of covariance were used to test the hypotheses that there were no significant mean differences among the groups.^ Learning disabled children placed in resource room showed a positive self-concept. Children recommended to and awaiting placement in resource room scored significantly lower on the Anxiety scale (more anxious) compared to children already in resource room placement as well as compared to children in regular classes. Children recommended to resource room also scored significantly lower on Total Self-Concept and on the Intellectual and School Status scale compared to children recommended to a self-contained class. No significant differences were found between children recommended to a self-contained class and children already in this placement.^ Festinger's social comparison theory provided a framework to explain the results. Individuals used significant others as the basis for forming estimates of self-worth, and are more likely to compare themselves with others more similar than dissimilar on a particular ability. Children placed in resource room are provided with an additional comparison group. Self-concept is positive since academic abilities can be compared to others of similar abilities in the resource room. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Special education

Recommended Citation

Recht, Audrey Ann, "The effect of special class placement on the self -concept of learning -disabled children" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9109239.