LINKS AMONG SOCIAL STATUS, SERVICE DELIVERY MODE, AND SERVICE DELIVERY PREFERENCE IN LD, LOW-ACHIEVING, AND NORMALLY ACHIEVING ELEMENTARY-AGED CHILDREN.
A continuing debate in the field of special education concerns the most appropriate delivery of educational services to children with learning difficulties. Several models of service delivery have been implemented, including educating these children in separate schools, in full-time special classrooms within regular schools, in resource rooms with part-time placement in regular classrooms, and, most recently, in the regular classroom full-time. While examples of each of these models can be found, by far the most prevalent is to place children with learning difficulties in the regular classroom and take them out to the resource room for assistance. This model is generally known as the "pullout" approach.
Evaluations of pullout, based on students' academic achievement, have indicated that this approach is no better or worse than other models (e.g., Jenkins & Leicester, 1992; Zigmond & Baker, 1990; Zigmond, Jenkins, Fuchs et al., 1995). Hence, debate has tended to focus on the social implications of taking children from the regular classroom for assistance. In particular, it has been argued that the practice of removing students with learning difficulties from the classroom, even for short periods of time, threatens their social standing among their peers (e.g., Madge, Affleck, & Lowenbraun, 1990), which can further undermine their academic progress. This is suggested to happen in two ways. First, removing children from the classroom limits their contact time with classmates, which can inhibit the development of positive peer relationships. Second, taking children out for help draws attention to their deficiencies, stigmatizing them among their peers (e.g., Will, 1986). Both these effects, it is argued, result in lowered peer status, which has been shown to be linked to poor self-esteem, dissatisfaction with the school environment, and an increased risk for school drop-out (Parker & Asher, 1987).
With debate over what is the most appropriate service delivery for students with special learning needs far from settled, researchers are continuing to examine the concomitants of inclusion and pullout. Recently, students' perceptions of the educational models in which they participate have become a meaningful aspect of the evaluation of such models (see Vaughn & Klingner, 1998, for a review). This is supported by the belief that accounting for children's views in decisions regarding educational activities (e.g., Padeliadu, 1995) and interventions (e.g., Deci, 1980) leads to greater motivation to achieve and a reduction in resistance.
Student perceptions may also provide a window into the social liability associated with different service models. For example, Jenkins and Heinen (1989) hypothesized that students' preferences for service delivery models are indicative of the stigmatizing effects of different program models. The focus of the present study was on these two interrelated issues: (a) students' preferences for service delivery and (b) the social impact of service delivery, particularly pullout.
The research on student perceptions of service delivery contains a handful of studies in which students have been asked specifically about their service delivery preferences. For example, Jenkins and Heinen asked 686 special, remedial, and regular education students in grades 2, 4, and 5 where they would prefer to receive help from a specialist teacher, the resource room (pullout) or the classroom (in-class), and to give reasons for their choice. Results indicated that, overall, children tended to prefer pullout. This was particularly true for students from pullout programs and for older students.
Padeliadu (1995) asked 150 children in grades 1 to 6 who were receiving remedial services the same interview questions as Jenkins and Heinen (1989) and, similarly, found that the majority of students reported preferring to receive remedial assistance in the resource room (pullout).
Similar results have also been reported by Whinnery, King, Evans, and Gable (1995), who studied 32 students with LD (16 receiving pullout and 16 receiving in-class service) and 16 students without LD in grades 2 to 5. All pullout students liked going to the resource room and nearly half of the students with LD receiving in-class service would rather have gone to the resource room for help. Both the in-class and pullout students with LD felt that their classmates liked them, but the latter were more likely to feel that their classmates made fun of them than did the students in the in-class program.
More recently, Klingner, Vaughn, Schumm, Cohen, and Forgan (1998) interviewed 32 students (16 with LD and 16 without LD) in grades 4, 5, and 6 to determine which they preferred, in-class or pullout service, and which of these models they perceived as being more conducive to making friends. Consistent with the previous studies, the results showed that, overall, most children preferred pullout service. Among children with LD, half preferred pullout and half preferred in-class service. However, both the children with and without LD tended to see in-class service as more favorable for making friends than pullout.
Taken together, these studies suggest that, despite some social costs associated with pullout, most students prefer this model to in-class service. These studies also raise a number of important issues, several of which beg for further study, including (a) measurement of service delivery preferences; (b) achievement group differences in service delivery preferences; and (c) conceptualization and measurement of peer stigmatization as it relates to service delivery. Each of these issues is discussed below.
In assessing service delivery preferences, investigators have typically used a forced-choice format asking students to pick either in-class or pullout service as their preferred type of service delivery. Such a procedure provides very little information about how much or how little these service models are preferred and may create the potentially false impression that one model is clearly favored over the other. To address this concern, in the present study students were asked to rate, on a Likert-type scale, how much they favored each of the service delivery models in addition to using the forced-choice procedure.
Service delivery preferences have been assessed in a number of differently defined achievement groups including students with LD, special education students, and remedial students. In most of the extant studies, however, the definition, and hence the composition, of these groups is not clear. For example, Jenkins and Heinen (1989) indicated that most, but not all, of their special education students had learning disabilities but they did not include the criteria for that designation or a description of whom else was in this group. Their remedial students were defined as students receiving compensatory education through state or local programs and the description did not make it clear how they differed from the special education group.
Padeliadu (1995) referred to her participants as students with learning disabilities; however, the basis of that diagnosis was not provided. Although both IQ and achievement scores were reported, Padeliadu apparently did not define "learning disabled" status on the basis of discrepancy criteria (i.e., between IQ and achievement) as many researchers have done (e.g., see Siegel, 1992). In short, as in the Jenkins and Heinen study, the composition of the group receiving remedial services was not clear. A similar problem exists with the studies by Whinnery et al. (1995) and Klingner et al. (1998). In each of these investigations, children with LD are defined rather vaguely as those who were qualified to receive special education services under school district guidelines.
Two groups of students who regularly receive special education support services are those with learning disabilities (LD) and those with low achievement (LA). The research on these two groups includes clues to suggest that they may differ in their service delivery preferences. For example, research has shown that children with LD and LA differ in their preferences for other aspects of their working environments. Specifically, Vaughn, Schumm, and Kouzekanani (1993) reported that children with LD, LA, and regular education students significantly differed in terms of their ratings of how much they liked to work in mixed achievement groups. Given achievement group differences in this type of preference, it seemed reasonable also to investigate achievement group differences in service delivery preferences as such differences could have implications for programming decisions. To this end, in the present study we included three distinct groups of children: (a) LD, (b) low-achieving, and (c) average/high-achieving students.
A third issue raised by the extant research concerns the measurement of stigmatization as it relates to service delivery. Typically, stigmatization has been assessed in terms of self-reports. The view taken here is that if an educational practice is stigmatizing, it discredits the recipients of that practice in the eyes of peers and hence lowers their status within the peer group. In the present study stigmatization was conceptualized and measured in two ways: (a) as actual peer status and (b) as self-perceived peer status. In this way we were able to assess how stigmatized students were by their peers as well as their own perceptions of their status in the peer group. Moreover, it enabled an assessment of how aware students with LD and LA and normally achieving students were of their status in the peer group.
In studies of peer status, particularly those of children with learning difficulties (LD and LA), status has most often been measured via peer ratings of how much they like to "play with" each classmate. Using this approach, a number of studies have shown achievement group differences in children's social status within their peer groups (e.g., Bursuck, 1989; La Greca & Stone, 1990; Sater & French, 1989). Generally speaking, students with LD are least well accepted, average students are most well accepted, while students with LA fall in between in terms of peer acceptance as a playmate. Implicit in the utilization of "play with" ratings is the assumption that the stigma associated with learning difficulties is manifested most clearly in a play situation. In the present study, we reasoned that if taking children out of the classroom for assistance is stigmatizing, it should discredit them in the academic arena at least as much as in the play arena and should be reflected in their status as a work partner as much as in their status as a play partner. To explore this hypothesis, we utilized a "work with" sociometric rating scale in addition to the "play with" scale in our assessment of peer status.
In summary, the present study differs from and extends the extant literature on students' perceptions of service delivery and stigmatization by more clearly addressing achievement group differences, by providing a finer analysis of service delivery preferences (ratings in addition to forced choice), and by including an expanded conceptualization and assessment of stigmatization (as both peer and self-perceptions and as bearing on both play and academic interactions). We examined relations among service delivery preferences and peer and self-perceptions of social and academic stigma in students with LD and LA, and in normally achieving students.
One hundred and twenty-four (69 male) students participated in this study. Students were drawn from 13 schools in a middle-class suburban area of a large metropolitan city in western Canada. Forty-two of the children had learning disabilities (LD; 24 male, 18 female), 40 were low-achieving (LA; 19 male, 21 female), and 42 were average- or high-achieving (A/HA; 26 male, 16 female). Sixty-three participants were from grades 2 to 4 and 61 were from grades 6 or 7.
All students with LD had been formally assessed by a school district psychologist, had been determined to have an IQ score at or above 85 on the WISC-R (Wechsler, 1974) and had received the designation "severely learning disabled." Such a designation requires a discrepancy of two or more standard deviations between estimated learning potential and academic achievement as measured by norm-referenced tests (e.g., Canada Quick Individual Educational Test [Canada QUIET, Wormeli & Carter, 1990]; Woodcock-Johnson-R Achievement [Woodcock & Johnson, 1977]). In addition, the student must demonstrate a significant weakness in one or more cognitive processes and external influences must be ruled out as a primary cause of learning failure. All students with LA received remedial service but did not meet the criteria for LD designation. These students had reading scores at or below the third stanine on the Woodcock-Johnson-R Achievement Test. Finally, A/HA students received no remedial assistance and were identified by classroom teachers as achieving average or better academic progress. All students were mainstreamed for a minimum of 50% of the school day and all had received parental permission for participation in the study.
Procedure and Materials
Students participated in a group testing session in the regular classroom and an individual session conducted on a separate day. The second author, a female graduate student with seven years' experience as a special education teacher, conducted all testing. During the group testing sessions, which lasted approximately 15 minutes, participants and their classmates completed sociometric rating scales asking (a) how much they liked to play with each study participant in their class and (b) how much they liked to work with each study participant in their class. The two scales were intended to distinguish between status as a playmate and as a workmate. Two sheets were distributed. At the top of the first sheet was the statement "I like to work with this person in the classroom." Beneath this statement was the class roster and beside each name on the roster was a 5-point rating scale. Each point on the scale, with the exception of the midpoint, was identified by a statement ("very much," "quite a bit," "not much," "not at all") and a corresponding "happy face" (ranging from a big smile, through neutral, to a very turned down, "sad" mouth). At the bottom of the sheet was the statement "Other kids like to work with me at school," accompanied by the same 5-point rating scale. The second sheet was the same format as the first but was headed with the statement "I like to play with this person at recess and after school." At the bottom of the sheet, children were asked to respond to the item "Other kids like to play with me at recess and after school." Work and play social status scores were calculated as the mean ratings participants received from same-sex classmates with higher scores indicating more positive social status.
Participants were also taken from the classroom one at a time for individual interviews that lasted between 5 and 10 minutes. Prior to asking the interview questions, the researcher introduced herself and briefly explained the interview and its purpose. Once she felt that the student was comfortable, the interview began. Of interest to the present study were the following questions: (a) Where do you (your classmates) get extra help from (the special education teacher's name)win the resource room or in the classroom?; (b) Where do (would) you prefer to get extra help from (special education teacher's name) (if you needed it)--in the resource room or in the classroom?; (c) How do (would) you feel about going to the resource room for extra help (if you needed it)?; and (d) How do (would) you feel about (the special education teacher's name) coming to help you in your classroom (if you needed it)? Questions 1 and 2 were forced-choice whereas questions 4 and 5 required responses on a 5-point scale accompanied by 5 "happy faces" that represented choices ranging from "like very much" to "don't like at all."
Dependent variables in were peer- and self-rated academic and play social status, service delivery preference, and ratings for pullout and in-class assistance. Independent variables were achievement group (LD, LA, and A/HA), grade, and current service delivery model.
One-way analyses of variance testing gender differences on all dependent variables were computed. As no statistically significant differences were obtained, data for boys and girls were combined in all analyses. Descriptive information including means, standard deviations, and ranges for the dependent variables by achievement group can be found in Table 1.
Descriptive Information for Dependent Variables by Learning Group
LD LA M SD Range M SD Range Peer work status 3.03 .74 1.2-4.5 3.26 .80 1.7-5 Peer play status 2.93 .81 1.1-4.5 3.20 .82 1.5-5 Self work status 3.45 1.37 1-5 3.53 1.24 1-5 Self play status 3.93 1.31 1-5 3.95 1.08 1-5 Pullout rating 3.67 1.12 1-5 3.72 1.04 1-5 In-class rating 2.71 1.35 1-5 2.88 1.32 1-5 A/HA M SD Range Peer work status 3.75 .75 1.8-4.9 Peer play status 3.48 .80 1.7-4.8 Self work status 3.83 .79 2-5 Self play status 4.17 .76 3-5 Pullout rating 3.05 1.13 1-5 In-class rating 3.21 1.09 1-5
LD = students with learning disabilities;
LA = students with low achievement;
A/HA = students with average or high achievement;
M = mean;
SD = standard deviation.
Over the entire sample the majority of students reported preferring pullout (68%) to in-class service (32%). Within the LD group, 77% preferred pullout to in-class service. Among LA children, the breakdown was 68% preferring pullout and 32% preferring in-class. Within the A/HA group, 58% chose pullout as their preferred mode of service delivery.
Forced-Choice Preference for Pullout or In-Class Instruction
Two analyses were performed to assess the effects of students' current service mode (pullout, in-class, and combined) and grade level (2-4 vs. 6-7) on their preferences for pullout or in-class service. Table 2 shows students' preferences, depending on their achievement group, current service mode, and grade level.
Remedial Service Preferences by Grade, Learning Group, and Current Service
Grades 2-4 Current Service Mode In-Class Pullout Both Learning Group x Preference LD - pullout -- 10 4 LD - in-class 1 3 -- LA - pullout -- 12 -- LA - in-class 2 4 4 A/HA - pullout 1 6 2 A/HA - in-class -- 5 4 Total 4 40 14 (3%) (34%) (12%) Grades 6-7 Current Service Mode In-Class Pullout Both Learning Group x Preference Total LD - pullout -- 11 5 30 (26%) LD - in-class -- 2 3 9 (7%) LA - pullout -- 12 2 26 (22%) LA - in-class -- -- 2 12 (10%) A/HA - pullout -- 9 5 23 (20%) A/HA - in-class -- 4 4 17 (15%) Total -- 38 21 117 (32%) (18%) (100%)
Note. n=117 as 7 students (3 LD, 2 LA, and 2 A/HA) could or would not choose between pullout and in-class.
Current service mode effects. Chi-square analysis that combined all three learning groups (LD, LA, and A/HA) revealed a significant effect of current service mode on service delivery preference, [chi square] (2, n=117) = 10.58, p=.005. Among students receiving pullout service, more than expected preferred pullout service and fewer than expected preferred in-class service. Among students receiving in-class service, the opposite pattern was observed. Finally, among students who received combined pullout and in-class service, fewer than expected preferred pullout and more than expected preferred in-class.
Separate analyses for each learning group indicated that current service mode bore no relation to service delivery preference among LD ([chi square] (2, n=39) = 3.75, n.s.) and A/HA students ([chi square] (2, n=40) = 1.71, n.s.). Among LA students, however, current service mode significantly influenced preference for service mode, [chi square] (2, n=38) = 15.19, p=.0005. The pattern of observed and expected values indicated that among LA students receiving pullout service, more than expected preferred pullout and fewer than expected preferred in-class. Among students who received combined pullout and in-class service more than expected preferred pull-out and fewer than expected preferred in-class service.
Grade effects. Chi-square analysis that combined the three learning groups revealed a nonsignificant relation between grade level and service delivery preference, [chi square] (2, n=124) = 3.96, n.s. However, an examination of the observed and expected values indicated a trend for more grade 6-7 students than expected to prefer pullout and less than expected to prefer in-class service. The opposite trend was seen among the grade 2-4 students.
Separate analyses for each learning group revealed nonsignificant relations between grade level and service delivery preference among LD ([chi square] (1, n=39) = .01, n.s.) and A/HA students ([chi square] (1, n=40) = .75, n.s.). Among LA students there was a significant effect, [chi square] (1, n=38) = 4.66, p=.03, with more grade 6-7 students than expected preferring pullout and fewer than expected preferring in-class and fewer grade 2-4 students than expected preferring pullout and more than expected preferring in-class service.
Ratings of Pullout and In-Class Instruction
A series of analyses was performed to assess students' ratings of pullout and in-class service delivery and to determine the effects of learning group, service delivery preference, grade, and current service mode on those ratings.
To compare students' ratings of pullout and in-class service and the effect of learning group on those ratings, a one-within (service delivery ratings of pullout and in-class), one-between (learning group; LD, LA, A/HA) multivariate analysis of variance was run (see Table 3). Results indicated a significant main effect for service delivery ratings, F (1)=11.18, p [is less than] .001, with pullout service being rated more favorably than in-class service. The interaction between learning group and service delivery ratings was also significant, F (2)=4.85, p [is less than] .01. Post hoc tests revealed that A/HA students rated in-class service significantly higher than either LD or LA students and pullout service significantly lower than either LD or LA students. LD and LA students did not differ from one another in either their ratings of pullout or in-class service.
Multivariate Analysis of Variance for Service Delivery Ratings by Learning Group (n=124)
Source df F Between Subjects Learning group 2 .53 Within-cells error 121 (1.14) Within Subjects Service delivery ratings (SDR) 1 11.18(***) Learning group x SDR 2 4.85(**) Within-cells error 121 (1.65)
Note. Values in parentheses represent mean square errors.
Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were computed to examine the effects of learning group, current service delivery, service delivery preference, and grade level on students' ratings of pullout and in-class service modes (Table 4). Using ratings of pullout service as the dependent measure, an ANOVA indicated a significant main effect for service delivery preference, F (1) = 31.40, p [is less than] .001, with those students who chose pullout as their preferred service delivery mode rating pullout more favorably than those who chose in-class as their preferred service delivery mode. Main effects for learning group, F (2) = 2.75, p [is less than] .05, and grade level, F (1) = 2.99, p [is less than] .05, approached statistical significance, with LD and LA students rating pullout service more favorably than A/HA students, and younger students rating it more favorably than older students. A two-way interaction between learning type and current service mode was statistically significant, F (2) = 4.69, p [is less than] .01, with LA children whose current service mode was pullout rating pullout more favorably than LA children whose current service mode was either in-class or combined. This difference was not apparent for either LD or A/HA children.
Analysis of Variance for Service Delivery Ratings by Learning Group, Current Service Delivery, Service Delivery Preference, and Grade Level (n=117(a))
F Source df Pullout In-class Learning group 2 2.75 .701 Service 1 .85 .048 Preference 1 31.40(***) 122.56(***) Grade 1 2.99 .38 Group x service 2 4.69(**) .83 Group x preference 2 2.24 3.01(*) Group x grade 2 .72 .10 Service x preference 1 .06 .57 Service x grade 1 .39 .02 Preference x grade 1 .54 .05
Note. Group = learning group;
service = current service delivery mode;
preference = service delivery preference;
grade = grade level.
(a) n=117 as 7 students (3 LD, 2 LA, and 2 A/HA) could or would not choose between pullout and in-class.
The same ANOVA with ratings of in-class service as the dependent variable produced a significant main effect for preference, F (1) = 122.55, p [is less than] .001, indicating that students who selected in-class service as their preferred service delivery mode rated in-class service more favorably than those whose forced-choice preference was pullout service. A significant interaction between learning group and preference, F (2) = 3.01, p [is less than] .05, revealed that the discrepancy between ratings of in-class service by those who chose pullout and those who chose in-class as their preferred service modes was greatest for LD children, followed next by LA children, and was the least for A/HA children.
Peer- and Self-Perceived Social Status Ratings
To assess the relations between academic and play social status and to determine the accuracy of self-perceptions in each of the three learning groups, correlations were computed among peer- and self-rated academic and play social status within each of the learning groups. As can be seen in Table 5, within all three learning groups, significant correlations were obtained between peer-rated academic and play social status and between self-rated academic and play social status. Only among LD students was there a significant correlation between peer-rated play social status and self-rated play social status, r = .44, p [is less than] .01, and between peer-rated academic social status and self-rated play social status, r = .36, p [is less than] .05. In no group was there a significant association between peer-rated academic and self-rated academic social status.
Table 5 Correlations Among Peer- and Self-Rated Work and Play Social Status for the Entire Sample and Each Learning Group
Self-Rated Peer-Rated Self-Rated Social Status Work Play Play All Students (n=124) Peer-rated work .07 .84(***) .21(*) Self-rated work -- .11 .59(***) Peer-rated play -- .26(**) LD Students (n=42) Peer-rated work .13 .89(***) .36(*) Self-rated work -- .24 .56(***) Peer-rated play -- .44(**) LA Students (n=40) Peer-rated work -.10 .87(***) -.02 Self-rated work -- -.08 .67(***) Peer-rated play -- .03 A/HA Students (n=42) Peer-rated work .02 .72(***) .22 Self-rated work -- .02 .45(**) Peer-rated play -- .22
ANOVAs assessing the effects of learning group, current service mode, service delivery preference, and grade level on academic and play social status as rated by both peers and self were computed (Table 6). With peer-rated academic social status as the dependent variable, a significant main effect was obtained for learning group, F (2) = 8.93, p [is less than] .001. Post hoc comparisons indicated that LD children had lower status than either the LA or A/HA children and that the status of the LA children was less than that of the A/HA children. A significant main effect for grade level was also obtained, F (1) = 4.48, p [is less than] .05. Older students received lower ratings of academic status than did younger. A significant interaction between service delivery preference and grade level, F (1) = 2.12, p [is less than] .05, indicated that among the older students (grades 6-7) those who preferred pullout service had lower academic status than those who preferred in-class service delivery. Among the younger children (grades 2-4) there was no difference in academic status scores between those who preferred pullout and those who preferred in-class service.
Table 6 Analysis of Variance for Social Status by Learning Group, Current Service Delivery, Service Delivery Preference, and Grade Level (n=117(a))
F Playmate Workmate Source df Status Status Learning group 2 4.44(**) 8.93(***) Service 1 .04 .10 Preference 1 .11 .97 Grade 1 7.57(**) 4.48(**) Group x service 2 .16 .54 Group x preference 2 .19 .29 Group x grade 2 1.75 .73 Service x preference 1 .17 .02 Service x grade 1 2.28 1.15 Preference x grade 1 4.58(*) 3.80(*)
Note. Group = learning group;
service = current service delivery mode;
preference = service delivery preference;
grade = grade level.
(a) n = 117 as 7 students (3 LD, 2 LA, and 2 A/HA) could or would not choose between pullout and in-class.
The same ANOVA with peer-rated play social status as the dependent variable produced a similar pattern of results. A significant main effect for learning group was obtained (F (2) = 4.44, p [is less than] .01). Post hoc comparisons again revealed that LD students had lower play status than both LD and A/HA children and that LA students had lower play status than A/HA children. A significant main effect for grade, F (1) = 7.57, p [is less than] .01, again indicated that older students received lower play status ratings than younger. A significant interaction between service delivery preference and grade level, F (1) = 4.58, p [is less than] .05, showed that among the older students (grades 6-7) those who preferred pullout service had lower play status than those who preferred in-class service delivery. Among the younger children (grades 2-4) those who preferred pullout service had higher play status than those who preferred in-class service delivery.
An ANOVA using self-rated academic status as the dependent variable produced a service delivery preference by grade level interaction that approached statistical significance, F (1) = 3.50, p=.06. Consistent with the findings from the previous ANOVAs, among the older children, those who preferred pullout had lower self-perceptions of academic status than did those who preferred in-class service delivery. Among the younger children (grades 2-4) there was no difference in self-perceived academic status between those who preferred pullout and those who preferred in-class service. An ANOVA using self-rated play status as the dependent variable yielded nonsignificant results.
Given the choice between pullout and in-class service delivery, the majority of students in the present study selected pullout as their preferred model. This was true both for the entire sample and within each of the three learning groups (LD, LA, and A/HA). These results are consistent with those of previous research (e.g., Jenkins & Heinen, 1989; Klingner et al., 1998; Padeliadu, 1995; Whinnery et al., 1995) and, like the findings of those investigations, challenge the notion that children, generally, prefer help coming to them than leaving the regular class to get help. Ratings of each type of service delivery presented a similar picture. Overall, pullout service was rated more favorably than in-class service. However, the LD and LA students who rated pullout service more favorably than in-class service accounted for this overall trend. Students who received no remedial service (A/HA) actually rated in-class service more favorably than pullout service. This was in spite of the finding that the majority of A/HA students (58%) chose pullout as their preferred service delivery mode. These results highlight the need to consider learning groups independently when considering their preferences as well as to alert researchers to the potential pitfalls of reaching conclusions on the basis of forced-choice data alone.
Jenkins and Heinen (1989) argued on the basis of their data that students who receive remedial assistance prefer the service delivery mode with which they are familiar. The findings of Padeliadu (1995) and Whinnery et al. (1995) were consistent with this position. In the present study, when all three learning groups (LD, LA, and A/HA) were combined, we found a similar result. However, when the data were analyzed within each learning group, a different picture emerged. Only among the LA students did this relationship between preference and current service mode appear. The current service experienced by LD and A/HA students bore no relation to their preference for service delivery mode.
In explaining this apparent difference between our findings and those of other researchers, one needs to consider the composition of the learning groups in the previous studies. Neither Jenkins and Heinen nor Padeliadu clearly distinguished between LD and LA students. On the basis of the descriptions of their samples, it is likely that in both studies LD and LA students were combined in a single group. Although there is no indication of what the ratio of LD to LA students was in the Padeliadu sample, there are some clues as to what it may have been in the Jenkins and Heinen sample as the researchers combined a special education group (mostly LD) and a remedial group. The remedial group, which likely consisted primarily of LA students, was more than double the size of the LD group (236 vs. 101); hence in the combined group it is probable that LA students outnumbered LD students by a ratio of 2 to 1. Moreover, the majority of students in the Jenkins and Heinen study received pullout service. Taking these sample characteristics together with the present finding that there is a link between current service and service delivery preference among LA students, it is not surprising that Jenkins and Heinen concluded that, in general, students prefer the service delivery mode with which they are familiar. The findings of the present study underscore the need to think about the LD and LA groups separately when considering factors relating to service delivery preferences.
It is interesting to note that the LD students were more similar to the A/HA students than to their LA peers as concerns the link between current service and service delivery preference. At this point, we can only speculate as to what may underlie these similarities and differences. As a group, LA students tend to show reduced performance across intellectual domains unlike LD students who tend to show deficits only in specific areas. The similarity between LD and A/HA students may stem from the average to above average levels of intelligence that they share. The more ubiquitous low functioning of the students with LA may lead to a preference for routine and familiarity or difficulty conceptualizing the unfamiliar. It is these characteristics that may explain why children with LA report preferring the service with which they were familiar.
The need to consider LD and LA groups separately was further emphasized by findings concerning grade effects. In the present study, when all three learning groups were considered together, no relation between grade and service delivery preference was observed, which differs from Jenkins and Heinen's finding that older students prefer pullout. However, separate analyses for each learning group in the present study indicated a significant relationship between grade and service delivery preference within the LA group (but not the other two groups). Older students with LA were more likely to prefer pullout service while younger students with LA preferred in-class service delivery. Once again, the overall grade differences found in the Jenkins and Heinen study may have been due to the preponderance of students with LA in their combined remedial group.
In addition to examining relations among current service mode, grade and service delivery preferences, we were also interested in the role of peer stigmatization. In this study we conceptualized stigmatization as both actual peer status and self-perceived peer status. Extending previous work in this area, we examined social status as it relates to both play and work settings.
Significant correlations between peer-rated work and play social status and between self-rated work and play social status indicated that views of social status were stable across different settings. Students popular as playmates were also likely to be popular as workmates and those who viewed themselves as well accepted on the playground also saw themselves as well accepted in the classroom. However, self-perceptions of peer acceptance were not highly correlated with actual acceptance by peers. Jenkins and Heinen's (1989) conclusion that students' perceptions of stigmatization may be highly personal is supported by our finding that students, in general, were not very accurate judges of how popular they were in the classroom or on the playground. Interestingly, of all learning groups, only students with LD accurately assessed their status as a playmate. This finding is consistent with a report by Garrett and Crump (1980), who suggested that children with LD were more accurate than non-LD peers in estimating their social acceptance. This accuracy may stem from the consistently low social standing of children with LD throughout the elementary school years. With such a history, by middle childhood, children with LD have had ample experience to inform their understanding of their status in the peer group. In the present study, however, this understanding did not extend to their perceptions of their status as a workmate. Students with LD were no more accurate than their peers in assessing their own work social status. The difference in their accuracy concerning their status on the playground versus in the classroom may stem from how blatant the social cues from peers in those two settings are. On playgrounds, where adult supervision is minimal, the quality of peer interactions is likely a truer reflection of how children feel toward one another than it is in the classroom where teachers can monitor peer interactions. Hence, on the playground, the social status of children with LD is likely much more apparent to them than it is in classroom.
Consistent with much of the previous work on the social status of various learning groups (e.g., see Bryan, 1991), we found that children with LD were the least well accepted of the groups studied. A/HA children were the best accepted while children with LA were intermediary to the other two groups. This was true whether status was assessed as a playmate or a workmate.
Of particular interest in this study was the association between peer social status and service delivery preference. Regardless of whether peer status was assessed in reference to being a workmate or a playmate, results indicated that among the older students (grades 6-7), those who preferred pullout service had lower status in the peer group than those who preferred in-class service delivery. Among the younger children (grades 2-4), this relationship did not exist. From these results, it is not clear if low social status in grades 6 and 7 resulted in students wanting or preferring to leave the classroom (i.e., get away from unsympathetic peers) or if a preference to leave the classroom in some way led to lower social status. Either way, the difference between the younger and older students in this regard is likely due to increased self-awareness and capacity for social comparison in the intermediate years (Harter, 1983).
The finding that current service delivery mode was not related to peer status suggests that the lower social status of students with LD and LA relative to their average-and high-achieving peers does not stem from the stigma of being removed from the classroom for help. Taken as a whole, the pattern of findings of the present study indicates that peer status is established on the basis of other factors, but once established, has a bearing on service delivery preferences, as discussed above. The links between learning status, service delivery, and peer status are apparently complex. The findings of the present study, however, highlight the central role that their social status plays in the school lives of children with learning challenges. Time and again, research has shown that children with LD and LA suffer in the social arena. Here, we have shown that the social standing of these children has an impact on their views of academic support services.
These findings point to the importance of educators addressing the social problems in addition to the academic problems of students with LD and LA. Moreover, teachers should consider older students' social standing within their peer groups when making service delivery decisions. Children who are getting along well with their classmates and who are well accepted by their peers may be happy remaining in the regular classroom while receiving extra academic help. On the other hand, children who are not well accepted by their peers may be better off receiving help in the privacy of the resource room. For educators who are working with the in-class model, it seems particularly important that they address the factors underlying the low status of some children with LD and LA to maximize the likelihood that in-class help is a positive experience for those students.
In summary, most students seem to prefer to go to the resource room for assistance. This preference is affected by their current experience, particularly among students with LA. Students with LA and LD were found to differ in terms of the effect of both current service and grade level on service delivery preference, suggesting that these two groups should not be viewed as the same when making programming decisions. Although the LD and LA groups differed in these ways, they were similar in their social standing among their peers. Both groups of students were less well liked than their normally achieving classmates. Interestingly, while current service delivery mode was not related to peer status, service delivery preference was, though only among grade 6-7 students. The design of the present study did not allow the direction of effect between service delivery preference and peer status to be determined. This remains for future research.
Finally, certain limitations of this study should be mentioned. First, the small number of participants who experienced only in-class service delivery limits the generalizability of the findings. Replications that include in-class groups comparable in size to the pullout group would be desirable. With the pullout model being as prevalent as it is, finding larger numbers of children in in-class programs may be a challenge, however. Second, although information was obtained from peers about the social standing of the study participants, in this study peers were not asked if and how different service delivery models had an impact on their views of classmates. Such information would more directly address the stigmatization associated with different service models and may shed light on the association between service delivery preference and peer status. Lastly, because this study was aimed at addressing students' perspectives of their current school experience, their responses may have been class or teacher specific.
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This article is based on a master's thesis by the second author submitted to the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. The data were presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco, CA, August 14-18, 1998. Our sincere thanks are extended to the study participants.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Lucy Le Mare, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 1S6; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUCY Le MARE, Ph.D., is assistant professor, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.
MARIE de la RONDE, M.A., is a special education teacher, Burnaby School Board, Burnaby, B.C.
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|Author:||de la Ronde, Marie|
|Publication:||Learning Disability Quarterly|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2000|
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