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Including students with developmental disabilities in schools : instructional strategies and educational outcomes in typical and "multiple intelligences" elementary school classrooms Katz, Jennifer

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that specific instructional contexts, techniques, and service delivery models that provide opportunities for peer interaction and active engagement in instructional activities promote positive social and academic outcomes for students with and without disabilities (Bulgren & Carta, 1993; Fisher et al., 1995; Grenot- Scheyer, 1994; Kamps, Leonard, Dugan, Boland, & Greenwood, 1991; Lee & Odom, 1996; Logan et al., 1998). It has been suggested that Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory provides a framework that includes many of these inclusive pedagogies and techniques (Armstrong, 1994; Hoerr, 1996). The present study was intended to explore the extent to which MI theory and instruction facilitates the inclusion of participants with developmental disabilities. Ten elementary school students (ages 6-12) with developmental disabilities participated in this study. The students were included in two types of general education classrooms: those in which MI pedagogy, instruction, and assessment were implemented, or those in which no specific educational theory or pedagogy was applied. Data were collected using ecobehavioral assessment, which is designed to reveal interrelationships between environmental variables (e.g., instructional activities and groupings) and child behavior (Greenwood, Schulte, Kohler, Dinwiddie, & Carta, 1986). An online version of MS-CISSAR (Greenwood, Carta, Kamps, Terry, & Delquadri, 1994) was used to gather and analyze data regarding students' instructional experiences, engaged behavior, and peer interactions. A matched-subjects design was used to compare the experiences of participants in the two types of classrooms; specifically, the relationships between types of task and instructional groupings and students' social interaction and engaged behaviors were examined. Results suggested that the experiences of the participants in both typical and Mt classrooms were more alike than different. Participants in both types of inclusive classrooms were frequently involved in whole-class or independent seatwork and paper-and-pencil activities. Thus, rates of overall engaged behavior and social interactions were essentially equivalent. However, participants in MI classrooms were more frequently observed to be involved in activities that allowed for multiple methods of responding and in small group structures. In contrast, participants in typical classrooms had high rates of one-to-one, separate activities from those of their typical classmates, as well as relatively high rates of non-instructional time (i.e. "down time" or transition time). Perhaps as a result, participants in MI classes were observed to interact with their typical peers more frequently and to be actively engaged in learning more often, while participants in typical classrooms were observed to interact more with adults and to be more passively engaged. The results are discussed in terms of their educational and research implications, limitations, and suggestions for further research.

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