Date of Award

Fall 11-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Robyne Elder

Second Advisor

Dr. Jenny Marquart

Third Advisor

Dr. Greg Hungerford

Abstract

The researcher explored the perceptions of typically-developing students, teachers, and parents of students with Down syndrome and students with disabilities at a suburban Midwestern High School. In exploring these perceptions of students with Down syndrome and students with disabilities, this study intended to explore how to increase effective inclusion of students with Down syndrome and students with disabilities in the general education setting, but more so, to explore the stigmas surrounding students with Down syndrome and students with disabilities in order to better understand the character of typically-developing students, teachers, and parents regarding students with Down syndrome and students with disabilities. To explore these perceptions, typicallydeveloping students, teachers, and parents read and responded to a fictitious scenarios about either a “student with Down syndrome” or a “student with a disability” being excluded from an educational activity in class. Student respondents answered questions about their scenario regarding how they would work to include and advocate for the student in the educational activity. Teachers answered questions about how they expected their student to work to include and advocate for the student in the scenario. The researcher compared the responses of the participants who read the scenario about the “student with Down syndrome” to the responses of the participants who read the scenario about the “student with a disability.” The researcher examined the responses to explore the differences in how the participants responded to two similar scenarios: one scenario was about a “student with Down syndrome,” and the other about a “student with a disability.” Overall, students responded that they would be more likely to include and advocate for the student with Down syndrome than the student with the disability. iii Teachers responded that they expected their students would be more likely to include and advocate for the student with Down syndrome than the student with the disability. No parent responded to the scenarios. The research suggested perceptions of students with Down syndrome and students with disabilities can be improved through the increase of quality interactions with students in the general education setting.

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