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A meta-analysis of the social competence of children with learning disabilities compared to classmates of low and average to high achievement.

Abstract. This meta-analysis synthesized research since 1990 pertaining to the social competence of children with learning disabilities in inclusive classrooms. Comparisons with average- to high-achieving classmates resulted in medium to large effect sizes for teachers' perceptions of social competence, peer preference ratings, positive peer nominations, global self-worth, and self-perceptions of scholastic performance. A second set of comparisons with children designated as low in academic achievement yielded moderate effect sizes for teachers' perceptions of social competence and for peer social preference ratings. Small effect sizes were obtained for global self-worth and self-perceptions of scholastic performance. It was concluded that (a) children with learning disabilities and children designated as low in academic achievement are at a greater risk for social difficulties than are average- to high-achieving children, and (b) children with learning disabilities and their low-achieving classmates do not appear to have accurate self-perceptions of social acceptance.

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Social competence can be conceptualized as a construct consisting of two interacting components (a) social skills as perceived by peers or other individuals and (b) self-perceptions of social ability. Social skills consist of an individual's ability to exhibit appropriate behavior in specific situations while performing a social task. This includes cooperation, self-control, understanding the needs of others, and the ability to initiate and sustain social interaction and respond prosocially to social bids (Elliot & McKinnie, 1994). Peer perceptions of an individual's social skills are used to accord social status within a peer group (Frederickson & Furnham, 1998a). Thus, competence in social skills is usually associated with accepted or popular status, whereas poor social skills often correspond to neglected or rejected status (Coie, Dodge, & Coppotelli, 1982). Self-perceptions of social ability are self-evaluative in nature and are based on judgments that one has performed adequately on a social task (Gresham, 1992). Social skills and self-perceptions of social ability interact when an individual's social behavior is associated with self-monitoring and self-appraisal.

"Learning disabilities" is a general term that refers to a variety of learning difficulties in listening, reasoning, mathematics, speaking, reading, or writing. Further, a learning disability is a disorder in one or more basic psychological processes, including visual, auditory, motor, or language processing (Vaughn & Hogan, 1994). This pattern of atypical learning is considered to be indicative of a learning disability as long as it cannot be traced to other handicapping conditions or social/ cultural differences. Although problems with social competence often co-exist with learning disabilities, they are not considered to be a distinct category of learning disability (Wong, 1991).

The social competence of children with learning disabilities has been an important factor in the debate concerning the validity of including students with disabilities in age-appropriate classes in neighborhood schools (Gresham & MacMillan, 1997). Inclusive education is the commitment to educate each child, regardless of the presence or absence of disabilities, to the maximum extent appropriate in the school and classroom that the child would otherwise attend (Rogers, 1994). As such, it can be seen as an attempt by the education system to accept, educate, and include all children and adolescents from the community.

Gresham and MacMillan (1997) commented on the lack of solid empirical evidence supporting the anticipated benefits of inclusion with regard to the social acceptance and self-perceptions of students with disabilities. Children with learning disabilities are at greater risk for social rejection and negative self-esteem issues than are average- to high-achieving children. Indeed, some researchers have asserted that learning disabilities can increase a student's likelihood of victimization by schoolyard bullies (Thompson, Whitney, & Smith, 1994; Whitney, Nabuzoka, & Smith, 1992). Victimization can result in a sequence of events, beginning with increased social anxiety that may eventually lead to less frequent social contact. Having fewer friends, in turn, can make a child a better target for bullies. Consequently, the sequence is linked into a cycle of poor social success and loss of self-esteem. Long-term effects of childhood rejection can result in later risk of dropping out of school, poor workplace success, and adult adjustment problems (Vaughn, Haager, Hogan, & Kouzekanani, 1992). Vaughn, McIntosh, and Spencer-Rowe (1991) referred to peer rejection status acquired during the primary-school years as a "stubborn thing" that is relatively stable across the lifespan.

Nearly three decades have passed since inclusive education became a reality in some school districts, and during that time a considerable body of research has tried to uncover social concerns associated with inclusion. Effective inclusion should consist of more than ensuring that academic needs are met, but program evaluation and assessment of students' progress often ignore the domains of social competence and self-concept (Stanovich, Jordan, & Perot, 1998). It is important to become aware of research results that have addressed social acceptance issues associated with inclusion. In particular, it is important to collectively summarize research findings so that educators can better understand the social difficulties experienced by many children with learning disabilities.

One of the concerns in drawing collective conclusions from past research is that qualitative comparisons between studies can be difficult due to the variety of measures and outcomes across studies. An alternative approach is a meta-analysis that provides a statistical summary across a given area of research. A benefit of such an approach is that results from different studies are converted to standardized values, or effect sizes, which are then averaged to provide a quantitative summary estimate of the overall effect size (Hedges & Olkin, 1985).

Several meta-analyses exist in the literature regarding the social competence of children with learning disabilities. For example, Swanson and Malone (1992) analyzed 39 studies, published between 1974 and 1989, in which children with learning disabilities were compared to children without learning disabilities. Effect sizes for peer ratings of social acceptance and rejection were in the moderate range in favor of children without learning disabilities. Self-perceptions of social skills yielded a small effect size. Teacher ratings were not directly addressed.

Similar conclusions regarding peer ratings of social acceptance were reached by Ochoa and Olivarez (1995) in their analysis of research published from 1978 to 1991. Seventeen studies focusing on peer ratings of social competence revealed that children with learning disabilities had lower sociometric status than their peers. A moderate effect size was found for comparisons between children with learning disabilities and children without disabilities. In a third meta-analysis of 152 studies covering the years from 1957 to 1994, effect sizes for teacher, self, and peer ratings of social competence were in the moderate range (Kavale & Forness, 1996).

Although these summaries are informative, several features of later research suggest the need for a more up-to-date evaluation. For example, it would be anticipated that inclusion practices have improved over time as educators have become more informed about the needs of children with learning disabilities. Also, research has shown that regular social interactions with classmates who have learning disabilities can change perceptions in a positive direction (Hastings & Graham, 1995; Whitaker, 1994). Thus, current studies may reflect perceptions different from those found in earlier research when inclusive education policies and practices were relatively novel, and perhaps in need of further development.

A further feature of later research is that some studies have involved comparisons of children with learning disabilities with average- to high-achieving classmates, as well as with low-achieving classmates. Such comparisons have revealed some interesting insights regarding similarities in the social competence of children with learning disabilities and children who have been designated as low achieving (Haager & Vaughn, 1995; Larrivee & Horne, 1991; Vaughn, Elbaum, & Schumm, 1996; Vaughn, Hogan, Kouzekanani, & Shapiro, 1990; Vaughn, Zarazoga, Hogan, & Walker, 1993). By comparison, prior meta-analyses have not separated the comparison groups into average- to high- and low-achieving.

Another distinction that was not made in previous meta-analyses is the fact that some studies were conducted with participants from inclusive classrooms and some used participants in segregated classes. This is an important consideration. Bear, Clever, and Proctor (1991) found that children in special education classes had higher self-perceptions of scholastic competence than children with learning disabilities in regular classrooms. Findings such as these need to be taken into consideration when calculating effect sizes across studies. Specifically, meta-analyses that do not separate children attending inclusive classrooms from children attending noninclusive classrooms may be obscuring important outcomes.

The purpose of the current meta-analysis was to summarize later research addressing the social competence of children with learning disabilities in comparison to two groups of classmates: (a) those designated as low in academic achievement and (b) those classified as average to high in academic achievement.

METHODOLOGY

Acquisition of the Studies

Original articles were selected from PsychINFO, MEDLINE, and ERIC databases. Searches were conducted for the subject heading learning disabilities and keywords children OR adolescents. Further restrictions were articles from English-language, peer-reviewed journals published from 1990 onwards.

The resulting 1,628 abstracts were reviewed with several additional restrictions. That is, studies comparing social skills, acceptance, and/or self-perceptions of children with learning disabilities and without disabilities were included. Also retained were studies involving children attending classrooms defined as inclusive, regular, integrated or mainstreamed, rather than segregated. Further, studies that were qualitative in nature were eliminated. If an abstract did not provide sufficient information regarding these restrictions, the journal article was examined.

This selection procedure resulted in 32 studies. Each of the selected studies provided empirical comparisons of the social competence of children with learning disabilities and children without disabilities enrolled in inclusive classrooms. In order to assess the inter-rater reliability of the selection process, the phi coefficient was calculated for a random sample of 400 of the 1,628 abstracts ([PHI] = 0.93).

Compilation of the Comparison Groups

On the basis of information provided in each of the source articles, two comparison groups were identified (a) average- to high-achieving classmates and (b) low-achieving classmates. Each study's operational definitions for the learning disability and comparison groups are presented in Table 1.

The studies included in this meta-analysis clearly distinguished between children with learning disabilities and children without disabilities. All studies reported that children designated as having a learning disability were formally identified according to criteria associated with their school districts. The majority of studies also referred to a significant discrepancy between intelligence and standardized achievement test scores as a necessary prerequisite for this designation. Specifically, several studies referred to a discrepancy of 15 or more points (e.g., Gresham, MacMillan, & Bocian, 1996; Haager & Vaughn, 1995; Merrell, Johnson, Merz, & Ring, 1992). Some studies isolated the comparison group(s) as low, average, and/or high in academic achievement. Studies categorizing children as low achievers generally defined this group as children scoring considerably below average on standardized achievement tests but without discrepant intelligence test scores (e.g., Clever, Bear, & Juvonen, 1993; Grolnick & Ryan, 1990; Haager & Vaughn, 1995; Vaughn et al., 1990). Several studies identifying children in the average- to high-achieving groups reported scores on standardized achievement tests greater than the 40th to 50th percentile and intelligence test scores in the average range or higher (e.g., Bear et al., 1991; Bear, Juvonen, & McInerney, 1993; Haager & Vaughn, 1995; Stone & La Greca, 1990). Other studies referred to comparison groups as classmates without disabilities (e.g., Hagborg, 1996, 1998; Kravetz, Faust, Lipshitz, & Shalhav, 1999; Martlew & Hodson, 1992; Sale & Carey, 1995). In this meta-analysis, comparison groups described as classmates without disabilities were placed in the average- to high-achieving categories.

Definition of Dependent Measures

Because different labels and measures for similar constructs were used across studies, it was necessary to create seven general categories of dependent variables: (a) teacher ratings of social skills, (b) negative peer nominations, (c) positive peer nominations, (d) peer ratings of social preference, (e) self-perceptions of academic competence, (f) self-perceptions of social acceptance, and (g) global self-worth. A summary of the nature of the measures comprising each category follows. Further information regarding dependent measures used in each study is presented in Table 2.

Teacher ratings. Measures of teacher ratings ranged from those that included several subscales addressing various components of social competence to those that contained one overall rating. Teacher assessments of students' social skills have typically been based on rating scales requesting the respondent to rate each target child on items such as self-control, assertion, aggression, cooperation, and overall social skills. Two measures that have been frequently used in the past are the Social Skills Rating System (Gresham & Elliot, 1990) and the Teacher-Child Rating Scale (Hightower, Spinell, & Lotyczewski, 1987).

Peer nominations. Both positive and negative peer nominations were of importance in this meta-analysis. Peer nominations have been used extensively to compare the social status and social skills of children with learning disabilities to classmates without disabilities (Frederickson & Furnham, 1998b). The peer nomination technique requires students to nominate a certain number of peers according to a particular criterion. Usually, positive peer nominations require participants to name three classmates with whom they would like to work or play. A variation involves the use of weighted nominations (e.g., the most, second most, etc.). Negative peer nominations require the selection of peers with whom the respondent would least like to play or work. Ethical concerns about the use of negative peer nominations have been raised; as a result, some researchers have replaced them with low ratings obtained on roster rating scale techniques (Vaughn et al., 1991).

The roster rating technique consists of a list of names of all participants in the target group and a rating scale to rate each child on a given criterion (Roberts & Zubrick, 1992; Sabornie, Marshall, & Ellis, 1990; Santich & Kavanagh, 1997). When several criteria are involved, a grid system is used where each criterion is listed across the top of the page, and names are displayed along the left-hand side (e.g., Home's Perception of Social Closeness Scale; Larrivee & Home, 1991). Data obtained from these measures are typically compiled into total rating scores for each target child. Highest and lowest scores can also be used to obtain peer nominations.

Peer ratings of social preference. Peer ratings of social preference in this meta-analysis were obtained from two sources: social preference scores and roster ratings. A social preference score was derived from a child's positive and negative peer nominations. It is the difference in the number of positive and negative nominations (Coie et al., 1982). Roster rating scores were those used to assess degree of liking towards each child in the control or learning disability group.

Measures of self-perceptions. The majority of studies included in this meta-analysis used the global self-worth, scholastic competence, and social acceptance subscales of the Self-Perception Profile for Children (Harter, 1985).

Calculation of Effect Size from a Single Comparison

For most studies, the unweighted effect size (d) was calculated as:

d = [M.sub.C] - [M.sub.LD]/ [([S.sub.C] + [S.sub.LD]).sub./2]

where [M.sub.C] and [M.sub.LD] are the means for the comparison (i.e., low-achieving or average- to high-achieving) and learning disability groups, respectively, and [S.sub.C] and [S.sub.LD] are the standard deviations for the two groups (Glass, McGaw, & Smith, 1981). According to Cohen (1988), a large effect size is 0.80 or more, a medium effect is 0.50, and a value of .20 or less is considered to be small. Thus, a positive effect size indicates that the comparison group obtained a more positive evaluation on a given measure than the learning disability group. Effect sizes (d) for single comparisons pertaining to average- to high-achieving children are presented in Table 2; comparisons with low-achieving children are shown in Table 3.

Several studies in this analysis did not provide sufficient descriptive data to calculate d using the formula mentioned above (e.g., La Greca & Stone, 1990; Pearl et al., 1998; Santich & Kavanagh, 1997). For these studies, effect sizes for percent data were determined by calculating proportions for each group (i.e., learning disability, low-achieving or average- to high-achieving) and entering this value into Glass et al.'s (1981) table for probit transformations.

Studies with more than one effect size per dependent measure. Some studies provided comparisons at various grade levels, time intervals, achievement groups, or by gender. For studies such as Vaughn et al. (1992), Juvonen and Bear (1992), and Clever, Bear, and Juvonen (1992), each grade or gender comparison was counted as a separate study in the meta-analysis (see Bender & Smith, 1990). For longitudinal studies (e.g., Bear et al., 1993; Vaughn et al., 1990, 1996), data collected at each time interval were given independent status. Finally, effect sizes were also computed for each low-, average- and/or high-achieving groups for studies providing separate group data (e.g., Gresham et al., 1996; Haager & Vaughn, 1995). Consequently, some studies may be viewed as a collection of independent comparisons.

Some studies reported mean responses for individual items within a questionnaire rather than reporting the mean for the entire measure. Cooper, Valentine, and Charlton (2000) suggested that the effect size d be calculated for each item and then averaged to obtain one overall effect size for the measure. Given that the sample size would not be expected to change between items within a given measure, the simple arithmetic mean would be the appropriate choice. For example, Haager and Vaughn (1995) provided separate teacher ratings for cooperation, empathy, and control. In that case, effect size d was determined for each of the three ratings and then averaged.

Calculating Mean Weighted Effect Sizes

To determine the overall effect size for each of the seven social competence categories, means for weighted effect sizes were calculated. The weighted effect size (d') is considered to be an unbiased estimate as it gives greater weight to effect sizes determined from large samples (Cooper et al., 2000; Hedges & Olkin, 1985). To determine the mean weighted effect size for each of the seven categories, each effect size within a category was multiplied by its weight and the resulting products were summed within a category to determine the mean weighted effect size.

Confidence intervals for the mean weighted effect size were calculated according to Hedges and Olkin (1985). If the interval did not contain 0, it was concluded that the mean weighted effect size was reliably different than 0. Homogeneity of variance was determined with the Q statistic, as described by Hedges and Olkin. This analysis compares the amount of variance in an observed set of effect sizes with the amount of variance that would be expected due to sampling error. If the variance is greater than what would be expected by chance, it is necessary to examine the experiments for potential moderating factors (Cooper et al., 2000).

RESULTS

Selected Studies and Participants

The meta-analysis involved 1,659 participants with learning disabilities and 5,293 participants in the comparison groups. Of this latter group, 527 children were identified as low in academic achievement, the remainder were described as classmates not having disabilities (i.e., average to high in academic achievement). Participants' grade level ranged from kindergarten through grade 12, with the median at grade 3.

Comparison of Children with Learning Disabilities and Average- to High-Achieving Children

Table 4 provides a summary of the mean weighted effect sizes, 95% confidence intervals (C.I.), and homogeneity of variance for each of the seven social competence categories. As illustrated, effect sizes for teacher ratings of social skills and peer ratings for social preference were large, indicating that children with learning disabilities tended to receive lower scores on these measures than their average- to high-achieving classmates. Medium effect sizes were found for positive peer nominations, global self-worth, and scholastic self-perception. Negative peer nominations approached a small, negative effect size, indicating that participants with learning disabilities were somewhat more likely to receive negative peer nominations than the comparison group. As for social self-perception, children with learning disabilities and average- to high-achieving children did not differ.

According to the homogeneity-of-variance analysis, effect sizes for teacher ratings, social preference, global self-worth, scholastic self-perceptions, and social self-perceptions demonstrated a wide range of variability. For teacher ratings, two studies provided a wide range of effect sizes. For example, Vaughn et al. (1990) reported four comparisons of kindergarten children with learning disabilities and classmates who were categorized as average or high in achievement. Effect sizes ranged from -0.99 to 1.28. Similarly, Vaughn, Zarazoga et al. (1993) reported a wide range of effect sizes in a longitudinal study, with values between 0.20 and 0.92. Furthermore, all but one of the other studies of teacher ratings reported positive effect sizes. The exception was Santich and Kavanagh (1997), who administered the Matson Evaluation of Social Skills with Youngsters (Matson, Rotatori, & Helsel, 1983) and reported an effect size of -0.19. Of note is the fact that none of the other studies used this measure.

The significant Q statistic for social preference can largely be attributed to two studies, each reporting two effect sizes greater than 2.10. That is, Vaughn et al. (1996) used a 4-point rating scale to obtain peer preference scores in a sample of students from grades 2 to 4, and Vaughn et al. (1990) used a conceptually similar 3-point scale with kindergarten children. Similar rating scales have been used in other studies, but resulted in smaller effect sizes (e.g., Haager & Vaughn, 1995; Stone & La Greca, 1990; Vaughn, McIntosh, Schumm, Haager, & Callwood, 1993). Effect sizes for scholastic self-perceptions also showed high variability, but values were distributed throughout the range without any outliers. As for social self-perceptions, only Vaughn et al. (1990) found large negative effect sizes. These values, ranging from -2.03 to -1.01, were obtained from a sample of kindergarten children. Conversely, studies with participants older than 5 or 6 years of age did not report such extreme values.

Comparison of Children with Learning Disabilities and Low-Achieving Children

Due to a lack of data, mean weighted effect sizes were not calculated for negative or positive peer nominations. Summary statistics for teacher ratings, social preference, global self-worth, scholastic self-perception, and social self-perception are summarized in Table 5. The weighted effect sizes for scholastic self-perception and social self-perception were not reliably different from zero. Effect sizes for social preference, teacher ratings and global self-worth were between 0.29 and 0.41, but homogeneity-of-variance analysis indicated that effect sizes for teacher ratings and social preference had a wide range of variability. With regard to teacher ratings, the discrepancy is likely due to a relatively large study by Merrell et al. (1992), which resulted in an effect size of 1.18. In this study, teachers used the Walker McConnell Scale of Social Competence and School Adjustment (Walker & McConnell, 1988) to rate children on social relationships, dynamics, and skills in free play. No other studies used this measure. In contrast, a negative effect size was reported by Vaughn et al. (1990). They found that during the autumn term, kindergarten teachers rated the social competence of children with learning disabilities higher than that of children considered to be low achievers. By the fall, however, the teacher's ratings had switched in favor of the low-achieving children. Vaughn, Zarazoga, et al. (1993) also found negative effect sizes for teacher ratings of social competence for kindergarten and children in grade 2.

As for social preference, two studies by Vaughn and her colleagues gave widely differing effect sizes although they used similar measures. Specifically, Vaughn et al. (1992) reported negative effect sizes of medium magnitude for second- and third-grade children who preferred peers with learning disabilities over children who were classified as low achievers. At the opposite end of the range, children in kindergarten much preferred children who were low achievers over those with learning disabilities (Vaughn et al., 1990).

SUMMARY

The results of this meta-analysis indicated that children with learning disabilities attending inclusive classrooms are at greater social risk than their average- to high-achieving classmates. Thus, teachers perceived pupils with learning disabilities to be lacking in social skills compared to peers who were attaining at least an average level of academic achievement. As for peer assessments, children much preferred classmates without learning disabilities. Although effect sizes for positive and negative peer nominations were smaller, the fact remains that children with learning disabilities tended to have lower social status than their average- to high-achieving classmates. In comparison, the mean effect size for self-reported social acceptance was small, suggesting that an appreciable proportion of students with learning disabilities seem to be rather oblivious of their poor social acceptance by their classmates. Yet, the majority of these students appeared to be well aware of their poor scholastic abilities, and tended to have low self-evaluations of their global self-worth.

Learning disabilities do not appear to put children at an appreciably greater social risk than children designated as low achieving, however. That is, effect sizes for self-perceptions of scholastic performance and global self-worth were not reliability different from zero, indicating that both groups of children had lower scores on these measures than their classmates. Teachers were inclined to rate the social skills of low-achieving children somewhat higher than that of children with learning disabilities. However, this effect size was substantially lower than for average- to high-achieving children, and it must be emphasized that this value was likely inflated by one relatively large study (Merrell et al., 1992). There was also a modest effect size for social preference, but this was accompanied by a wide range of scores.

There are several plausible explanations for the similarities between low-achieving children and those with learning disabilities. One possibility is that average- to high-achieving children and their teachers simply prefer children who perform better in school, regardless of actual social competence. Another explanation is that children who are designated as low in academic achievement may have learning disabilities that have not been identified. From this perspective, researchers may be comparing apples with apples. It may also be possible that poor social competence has a similar root cause in both groups. That is, children who have learning difficulties, regardless of special education classification systems, may have similar deficits in processing social information.

It is of particular interest that children with learning disabilities and those designated as low in academic achievement considered their social competence to be on a par with that of their average- to high-achieving classmates, although they were aware of discrepancies in scholastic performance. A child's knowledge about his or her academic competence is likely based on straightforward, concrete information, such as grades and teacher feedback. In comparison, developing an accurate self-perception of social competence is more complex, requiring integration of information from many sources, including interpretation of nonverbal cues, situational context, tone of voice, underlying content of spoken messages, and self-monitoring of thoughts and behaviours. Thus, it is plausible that children who have difficulties processing academic information also face substantial challenges in untangling a constantly changing environment of social interactions.

Researchers' explanations for findings of poor social skills have focused on methodological concerns (Farmer & Farmer, 1996; Frederickson & Furnham, 1998b; Pearl et al., 1998); learned helplessness (Spafford & Grasser, 1993); and social proximity effects (Bear et al., 1991). Neurological differences, deficits in cognitive processing, and a lack of metacognitive skills have also been suggested as contributing factors, and may provide insights into poor self-perceptions of social competence (Kravetz et al., 1999; Spafford & Grasser; Wong, 1991).

To date, interventions designed to improve social skills have been generally unsuccessful. In a meta-analysis of 53 studies of social skills interventions outcomes, Forness and Kavale (1996) reported a mean effect size of only 0.21. It was suggested that variations between studies in content, intensity, and measurement techniques contributed to the poor overall outcome. In comparison, in an extensive meta-analysis of instructional interventions for academic remediation of students with learning disabilities, Swanson and Hoskyn (1998) found an overall effect size of 0.79. It is interesting to note that considerable variation across interventions was evident, even though a large effect size was obtained. The relative ineffectiveness of social interventions, compared to the more successful outcomes for instructional strategies, may be reflective of a lack of knowledge about the underlying factors associated with poor social skills.

In conclusion, the current meta-analysis provided a quantitative assessment of the social competence of children with learning disabilities in inclusive classrooms. As indicated, pupils with learning disabilities experienced more social difficulties than their average-to high-achieving classmates but not appreciably more so than children designated as low in achievement. Further, children with learning disabilities and those designated as low in scholastic achievement did not substantially differ in self-worth, and the effect size was considerably smaller on this measure than for average- to high-achieving children. Moreover, many children with learning disabilities, as well as children experiencing low academic success, appeared to lack adequate self-perceptions of their social acceptance.

Educators need to be aware that children who are struggling academically may also be experiencing social difficulties with their classmates, and may have lower self-esteem with regard to academic tasks. Thus, children with learning difficulties, regardless of a formal designation of having a learning disability or of low academic achievement, may require social support as much as they require academic remediation. Further research addressing the underlying factors associated with poor social competence is needed before consistently effective social skills interventions can be developed.
Table 1
Sample Sizes and Operational Definitions of Learning Ability
Groups by Study

Study # Authors Grade(s) N Group (a)

 1 Bear, Clever, & 3 52 LD
 Proctor (1991) 163 AA/HA

 2 Bear, Juvonen, 3,5 23 LD
 & McInerney 23 AA/HA
 (1993)

 3 Clever, Bear, 5 35 LD
 & Juvonen (1993) 27 LA
 122 AA/HA

 4 Coleman, McHam, 3 to 6 85 LD
 Hoover, 85 LA
 & Minnett (1992)

 5 Coleman & 3 to 6 73 LD
 Minnett (1992) 73 AA/HA

 6 Elliot & 3 to 6 112 LD
 McKinnie (1994) 770 AA/HA

 7 Gresham, 2 to 4 67 LD
 MacMillan, & 40 LA
 Bocian (1996)

 8 Grolnick & Ryan 3 to 6 37 LD
 (1990) 37 AA/HA
 37 AA/HA
 37 LA

 9 Haager & Vaughn 3 to 6 44 LD
 (1995) 44 LA
 53 AA/HA

 10 Hagborg (1996) 5 to 8 79 LD
 79 AA/HA

 11 Hagborg (1998) 9 to 11 37 LD
 37 AA/HA

 12 Juvonen & Bear 3 46 LD
 (1992) 199 AA/HA

 13 Kravetz, Faust, 4, 5 22 LD
 Lipshitz, & 22 AA/HA
 Shalhav (1999)

 14 La Greca & 4 to 6 32 LD
 Stone (1990) 32 LA
 30 AA/HA

 15 Larrivee & 1 to 6 89 LD
 Horne (1991) 100 LA
 200 AA/HA

 16 Martlew & 2 to 5 9 LD
 Hodson (1992) 8 AA/HA

 17 Merrell, K to 6 135 LD
 Johnson, Merz, 100 LA
 & Ring (1992) 100 AA/HA

 18 Pearl et al. 4 to 6 142 LD
 (1998) 1,274 AA
 66 HA

 19 Priel & Lesham 1, 2 44 LD
 (1990) 36 AA/HA

 20 Sabornie, 2 to 5 50 LD
 Marshall, & 50 AA/AH
 Ellis (1990)

 21 Sale & Carey K to 6 79 LD
 (1995) 79 AA/HA

 22 Santich & 3 to 6 32 LD
 Kavanagh (1997) 32 AA/HA

 23 Silver, Elder, 3 to 5 14 LD
 & DeBolt (1999) 13 AA/HA

 24 Stone & 4 to 6 57 LD
 La Greca (1990) 490 AA/HA

 25 Taylor, Anselmo, K 38 LD
 Foreman, 34 AA/HA
 Schatschneider,
 & Angelopoukos
 (2000)

 26 Vaughn, 2 to 4 16 LD
 Elbaum, & 27 LA
 Schumm (1996) 21 AA/HA

 27 Vaughn, Haager, K to 4 10 LD
 Hogan, & 10 LA
 Kouzekanani 10 AA/HA
 (1992)

 28 Vaughn, Hogan, K 10 LD
 Kouzekanani, & 10 LA
 Shapiro (1990) 10 AA
 10 HA

 29 Vaughn, 3 to 10 8 LD
 McIntosh, 62 LA
 Schumm, Haager, 72 AA
 & Callwood 50 HA
 (1993)

 30 Vaughn, K to 3 10 LD
 Zarazoga, Hogan, 10 LA
 & Walker (1992) 20 AA/HA

 31 Weiner, Harris, 4 to 6 90 LD
 & Shirer (1990) 94 AA/HA

 32 Wenz-Gross & 6 to 8 40 LD
 Siperstein(1998) 397 AA/HA

Study # Group (a) Operational Definition of Learning Ability Group

 1 LD significant discrepancy between Wechsler
 Intelligence Test for Children (WISC; Wechsler,
 1991), M = 94.9, and Wide Range Test of
 Achievement-Revised (WRAT-R; Jastak & Wilkinson,
 1984) reading scores, M = 79.8

 AA/HA Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills (CTBS, 1983)
 scores > 50th percentile

 2 LD significant discrepancy between WISC, M = 101.5,
 and SAT < 25th percentile, based on a regression
 formula determining a prevalence rate of < 5%;
 school district criteria

 AA/HA Stanford Achievement Test (SAT; Psychological
 Corporation, 1989) > 50th percentile

 3 LD significant discrepancy between WISC, M = 97.2,
 and SAT < 25th percentile, based on a regression
 formula determining a prevalence rate of < 5%;
 school district criteria

 LA SAT < 25th percentile but not discrepant with
 WISC

 AA/HA SAT > 50th percentile

 4 LD significant discrepancy between intelligence and
 Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS; Hieronymous,
 Frisbie, & Dunbar, 1993) < 15th percentile; one
 to two hours resource help per day; school
 district criteria

 LA ITBS < 15th percentile but not discrepant with
 WISC

 5 LD significant discrepancy between intelligence and
 achievement test scores; one to two hours
 resource help per day; school district criteria

 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

 6 LD school district criteria
 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

 7 LD > 22-point discrepancy between WISC,
 scores > 82, and WRAT-R
 LA WISC > 76 and low academic achievement but no
 discrepancy with academic achievement

 8 LD 40% discrepancy between WISC, range of 80 to
 130, and Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational
 Battery (WJR; Woodcock & Johnson, 1977); school
 district criteria

 AA/HA matched IQ with LD group; Otis Lennon Mental
 Ability Test (Otis & Lennon, 1970), range of 80
 to 127, and academic achievement > 25th
 percentile

 AA/HA not matched; Otis Lennon Mental Ability Test,
 range of 101 to 129, and academic achievement
 25th percentile

 LA Otis Lennon Mental Ability Test > 80 and
 academic achievement < 25th percentile

 9 LD 1.5 standard deviation discrepancy between
 intelligence test scores, and SAT (reading,
 M = 14.8; math, M = 15.4); evidence of
 processing deficit; not due to physical or
 sensory disorder; school district criteria

 LA SAT scores < 30th percentile (reading, M = 17.8;
 math, M = 28.4), but not discrepant with
 intelligence test scores

 AA/HA SAT scores > 50th percentile (reading, M = 80.7;
 math, M = 81.8)

 10 LD significant discrepancy between intelligence and
 academic achievement; evidence of processing
 deficit; not due to physical or sensory
 disorder; school district criteria

 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

 11 LD severe significant discrepancy between
 intelligence and academic achievement; evidence
 of processing deficit; not due to physical or
 sensory disorder; school district criteria

 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

 12 LD significant discrepancy between WISC, M = 98.0,
 and WRAT-R, based on a regression formula
 determining a prevalence rate of < 5%; school
 district criteria

 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

 13 LD average or above-average WISC with achievement
 two years below grade level

 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

 14 LD significant discrepancy between WISC,
 scores > 85, and SAT, M stanine = 3.6; school
 district criteria

 LA SAT, M stanine = 4.5, but not discrepant with
 WISC

 AA/HA SAT, M stanine = 6.5

 15 LD formal Individualized Education Program in place

 LA teacher-identified

 AA/HA teacher-identified

 16 LD formal statement of individual needs

 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

 17 LD 15-point discrepancy between intelligence and
 academic achievement; school district

 LA criteria below average achievement in reading or
 math, but no discrepancy with intelligence test
 scores

 18 LD identified by school assessment procedures
 according to federal (U.S.) guidelines

 AA general education students

 HA identified by school assessment procedures
 according to federal (U.S.) guidelines

 19 LD WISC > 80; psychological assessment; school
 district criteria

 AA/HA WISC > 80; classmates without disabilities

 20 LD severe discrepancy between WISC, range of 72 to
 124, and achievement; school district criteria

 AA/AH classmates without disabilities

 21 LD receiving special education services; school
 district criteria

 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

 22 LD school district criteria

 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

 23 LD 15-point discrepancy between WISC, range 81 to
 135, and WJR; school district

 AA/HA criteria
 average classroom achievement

 24 LD significant discrepancy between WISC,
 scores > 85, and SAT, M stanine = 3.7; school
 district criteria

 AA/HA SAT, M stanine = 6.0

 25 LD Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC;
 Kaufman & Applegate, 1988) in normal range
 (> 80) and below grade level achievement

 AA/HA Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC;
 Kaufman & Applegate, 1988) in normal range
 (> 80) and at least average achievement

 26 LD 15-point discrepancy between WISC, M = 101, and
 WJR; evidence of processing deficit; not due to
 physical or sensory disorder; school district
 criteria

 LA SAT < 40th percentile

 AA/HA SAT > 40th percentile

 27 LD 15-point discrepancy between WISC, M = 92, and
 WJR; evidence of processing deficit; not due to
 physical or sensory disorder; school district
 criteria

 LA low SAT scores; WISC, M = 95

 AA/HA SAT > 60th percentile; WISC, M = 105

 28 LD significant discrepancy between intelligence
 test scores and SAT, M = 35.3; evidence of
 processing deficit; not due to sensory or
 physical disorder; school district criteria

 LA SAT < 20th percentile but not discrepant with
 intelligence test scores

 AA SAT between 45th and 60th percentile

 HA SAT > 60th percentile

 29 LD significant discrepancy between intelligence
 test scores, M = 102.1, and SAT,
 M stanine = 3.2; evidence of processing deficit;
 not due to sensory or physical disorder; school
 district criteria

 LA SAT, stanine < 3.0

 AA SAT, stanine between 4 and 6

 HA SAT, stanine > 7

 30 LD significant discrepancy between WISC, M = 92.0,
 and SAT, M = 26.8; evidence of processing
 deficit; not due to sensory or physical
 disorder; school district criteria

 LA WISC, M = 95; SAT, M = 36.8

 AA/HA WISC, M = 105; SAT, M = 78.0

 31 LD significant discrepancy between WISC, M = 97.3,
 and WJR, M = 17.8; school district criteria

 AA/HA WISC, M = 108.5, and WJR, M = 66.8

 32 LD school district criteria; WISC, M = 94.0

 AA/HA classmates without disabilities

(a) LD = learning disability; LA = low academic achievement;
AA = average academic achievement; HA = high academic achievement.

Table 2
Dependent Measures and Effect Sizes for Single Comparisons of
Children with Learning Disabilities Compared to Average-to
High-Achieving Children

Study Dependent Measure Effect
(a) # Size
 (d)

 1 Teacher-Child Rating Scale (T-CRS; Hightower, 1.00
 Spinell, & Lotyczewski, 1987)

 Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPP-C; Harter,
 1985)

 girls global self-worth 0.67
 scholastic competence 0.76
 social acceptance -0.09

 boys global self-worth 0.50
 scholastic competence 0.35
 social acceptance 0.30

 2 SPP-C Grade 3 global self-worth 0.42
 scholastic competence 0.83
 social acceptance 0.14

 Grade 5 global self-worth 0.40
 scholastic competence 0.41
 social acceptance 0.11

 negative Grade 3 -0.24
 nominations Grade 5 -0.73

 positive Grade 3 0.18
 nominations Grade 5 0.17

 3 SPP-C girls global self-worth 0.06
 scholastic competence 1.26
 social acceptance -0.03

 boys global self-worth 0.37
 scholastic competence 0.82
 social acceptance 0.30

 5 Teacher Temperament Questionnaire (TTQ; Thomas & 0.34
 Chess, 1977)

 Social Description Questionnaire (SDQ; Marsh & -0.60
 Parker, 1984)

 6 Social Skills Rating System-Teacher (SSRS-T; 0.66
 Gresham & Elliot, 1990)

 Social Skills Rating System-Self (SSRS-S; Gresham & 0.23
 Elliot, 1990)

 8 Perceived Competence Scale (PCS; Harter, 1982)

 matched IQ global self-worth 0.02
 scholastic competence 0.51

 not matched global self-worth 0.20
 scholastic competence 0.93

 Teacher-Classroom Adjustment Rating Scale (T-CARS;
 Hightower et al., 1987)

 matched IQ 0.36
 not matched 0.81

 9 SRRS-T 1.89
 social 0.71
 preference
 negative -0.03
 nominations
 positive 0.85
 nominations

 10 SPP-C global self-worth 0.06
 scholastic competence 0.06
 social acceptance 0.27

 11 Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents (SPP-A;
 Harter, 1988)

 global self-worth 0.12
 scholastic competence 0.74

 Psychological Sense of Membership (Goodenow, 1993) -0.30

 12 SPP-C girls social acceptance 0.03
 boys social acceptance 0.58
 negative girls -0.85
 nominations boys 0.10
 positive girls 0.49
 nominations boys 0.14

 13 Teacher Ratings of Classroom Behaviour (Schaefer, 1.58
 Edgerton, & Hunter, 1983)

 14 SPP-C global self-worth 1.18
 social acceptance 0.62
 social 0.69
 preference
 negative -0.36
 nominations
 positive 0.89
 nominations

 15 Perception of Social Closeness Scale (PSCS; Horne,
 1977)

 average achieving 0.50
 high achieving 0.72

 16 child's perceptions of own social competence 1.90
 (responses code by interview)

 17 Walker-McConnell Scale of Social Competence and 1.04
 School Adjustment-Teacher (WM-Teacher; Walker &
 McConnell, 1988)

 18 social average achieving 0.36
 preference high achieving 1.12

 19 Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social
 Acceptance (PSPC; Harter & Pike, 1984)

 scholastic competence 1.38
 social acceptance 0.30
 teacher 0.80
 rating scale

 20 social 0.78
 preference

 21 social 0.66
 preference
 negative 0.00
 nominations
 positive 0.52
 nominations

 22 Matson Evaluation of Social Skills with Youngsters
 (MESSY; Matson, Rotatori, & Helsel, 1983)

 Teacher Report Form -0.19
 Self-Report Form 0.73

 23 SSRS-T 1.64
 SSRS-S 0.19

 24 social 0.53
 preference
 negative -0.26
 nominations
 positive 0.66
 nominations
 25 WM-Teacher 0.55
 WM-Peer 0.42

 26 PCS autumn term global self-worth 0.20
 scholastic competence 1.46
 social acceptance 0.31
 spring term global self-worth -0.08
 scholastic competence 1.56
 social acceptance 0.42
 social autumn term 2.33
 preference spring term 2.25

 27 PSPC Kinder- social acceptance 0.04
 garten scholastic competence 0.98
 Grade 1 social acceptance -0.13
 scholastic competence 0.49
 SPP-C Grade 2 global self-worth 0.22
 social acceptance 0.93
 scholastic competence 0.57
 Grade 3 global self-worth 0.58
 social acceptance 1.04
 scholastic competence 0.28
 Grade 4 global self-worth 0.88
 social acceptance 0.05
 scholastic competence 0.60
 social Kinder- 0.95
 preference garten
 Grade 1 1.29
 Grade 2 0.22
 Grade 3 0.13

 28 SSRS-T autumn term average achieving -0.99
 high achieving 0.82
 spring term average achieving 1.28
 high achieving 1.11
 PSPC autumn term average achieving -1.28
 high achieving -2.03
 spring term average achieving -1.12
 high achieving -1.01
 social autumn term average achieving 0.97
 preference high achieving 2.10
 spring term average achieving 0.46
 high achieving 2.12

 29 social average achieving 0.32
 preference high achieving 0.18

 30 SSRS-T Kinder- 0.74
 garten
 Grade 1 0.92
 Grade 2 0.20
 Grade 3 0.64

 31 Social Behaviour Nomination Scale (Dodge, 1983) 1.03
 social preference 0.94

 32 SPP-C global 0.53
 self-
 worth

(a) Refer to Table 1 for study authors and definition of comparison
groups.

Table 3
Dependent Measures and Effect Sizes for Single Comparisons of Children
with Learning Disabilities Compared to Low-Achieving Children

 Effect
Study Size
(a) # Dependent Measure (d)

 7 SSRS-T -0.14

 8 PCS global self-worth 0.37
 scholastic
 competence 0.30
 T-CARS 0.39

 9 SSRS-T 0.28
 social preference 0.15
 negative
 nominations 0.45
 positive
 nominations 0.06

 14 SSP-C global self-worth 1.13
 social acceptance 0.59
 social preference 0.58
 negative
 nominations -0.28
 positive
 nominations 0.89

 15 PSCS 0.05

 17 WM-Teacher 1.18

 26 PCS autumn term global self-worth 0.08
 scholastic
 competence 0.31
 social acceptance 0.44
 spring term global self-worth 0.23
 scholastic
 competence 0.67
 social acceptance 0.41
 social preference autumn term 1.00
 social preference spring term 0.75

 27 PSPC Kindergarten social acceptance -0.66
 scholastic
 competence 0.17
 Grade 1 social acceptance -0.50
 scholastic
 competence -0.01
 SPP-C Grade 2 global self-worth -0.28
 social acceptance -0.14
 scholastic
 competence 0.20
 Grade 3 global self-worth 0.11
 social acceptance 0.11
 scholastic
 competence -0.24
 Grade 4 global self-worth 0.24
 social acceptance -0.18
 scholastic
 competence -0.35
 social preference Kindergarten -0.10
 Grade 1 -0.16
 Grade 2 -0.64
 Grade 3 -0.16

 28 SSRS-T autumn term -0.64
 spring term 0.30
 PSPC autumn term -1.25
 spring term -0.19
 social preference autumn term 1.04
 spring term 0.43

(a) Refer to Table 1 for study authors and definition
of comparison groups.

Table 4
Summary Statistics Associated with Weighted Effect Sizes of Social
Competence for Children with Learning Disabilities vs. Average- to
High-Achieving Children

 Studies (a) K (b) d'

Teacher Ratings 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 13, 17 20 0.80
 19, 22, 23, 25, 28, 30

Negative Peer Nominations 2, 9, 12, 14, 21, 24 8 -0.19

Positive Peer Nominations 2, 9, 12, 14, 21, 24 8 0.53

Social Preference 9, 14, 15, 18, 20, 21, 24 23 1.00
 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31

Global Self-Worth 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 14 17 0.39
 26, 27, 32

Scholastic Self-Perception 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 19 18 0.69
 26, 27

Social Self-Perception 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 12, 28 0.16
 14, 16, 19, 22, 23, 26
 27, 28

 95% C. I. Q

Teacher Ratings 0.71 to 0.89 84.41 *

Negative Peer Nominations -0.33 to -0.05 11.87

Positive Peer Nominations 0.38 to 0.68 11.87

Social Preference 0.92 to 1.08 95.86 *

Global Self-Worth 0.25 to 0.51 51.25 *

Scholastic Self-Perception 0.56 to 0.82 132.14 *

Social Self-Perception 0.06 to 0.26 95.06 *

(a) Study numbers used in calculations (refer to Table 1).

(b) Number of comparisons.

* p <.05.

Table 5
Summary Statistics Associated with Weighted Effect Sizes of
Social Competence for Children with Learning Disabilities
vs. Low-Achieving Children

 Studies (a) K (b) d'

Teacher Ratings 4, 7, 8, 9, 17, 28, 30 11 0.41
Social Preference 4, 9, 14, 26, 27, 28, 29 12 0.34
Global Self-Worth 4, 8, 14, 26, 27 8 0.29
Scholastic Self-Perception 8, 26, 27 8 0.22
Social Self-Perception 4, 14, 15, 26, 27, 28 12 0.13

 95% C. I. Q

Teacher Ratings 0.11 to 0.69 59.53 *
Social Preference 0.17 to 0.51 25.56 *
Global Self-Worth 0.09 to 0.47 19.03
Scholastic Self-Perception -0.03 to 0.47 7.07
Social Self-Perception -0.04 to 0.30 19.41

(a) Study numbers used in calculations (refer to Table 1).

(b) Number of comparisons.

* p <.05.


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Requests for reprints should be addressed to: Elizabeth Nowicki, Faculty of Education, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6G 1G7; enowick2@uwo.ca

ELIZABETH A. NOWICKI, PhD., is assistant professor, The University of Western Ontario.
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STABILITY OF SOCIAL STATUS OF CHILDREN WITH AND WITHOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES.
Treatment validity as a unifying construct for identifying learning disabilities.
Self-image and peer acceptance of Dutch students in regular and special education.
The social-emotional side of learning disabilities.
Social skills interventions for individuals with learning disabilities.
The social-emotional side of learning disabilities: a science-based presentation of the state of the art.
Science-based advances in the social domain of learning disabilities.
Learning disabilities and social skills: reflections.

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