Learners with physical disabilities: Subjective perception of being integrated at school (K-PIQ)
Background and aims
Over 50% of all students with physical disabilities now go to integrated (inclusion) schools with support from school-level special education. How are these learners doing at the schools; do they feel ‘integrated’ in the class? Do they feel comfortable; do they have friends; do they enjoy learning? Feeling integrated in one’s current life situation is important for well-being and is important in the longer term for the assessment of the school biography. Do the type and the severity of the physical disability play a role? Or are other factors, such as learning preconditions, more important for the subjective perception of being integrated? These are the questions of interest in this study.
- Do students with physical disabilities feel approximately as well integrated as their class-mates?
- Do the assessments of the adults (classroom teacher, school-level special education teach-er, educational staff) agree with the students’ perceptions?
- The question, “How are you doing at school?” will be assessed using the Perceptions of Inclusion Questionnaire (PIQ; Venetz, Zurbriggen, & Eckhart, 2014). The PIQ is an instrument for subjective self-assessment of being integrated for Grades 3 to 9. Being integrated is understood from three perspectives: emotional (well-being), social (positive relationships with classmates), and achievement motivation (trust in one’s own academic ability). The scientifically evaluated instrument contains 12 items.
- This pilot study will examine four inclusion classes in the Canton of Zurich in which one student with physical disability is integrated (primary Grades 5 and 6 and first year of secondary school) over a period of 3 years.
- After that, we will review whether the study will be continued in a larger framework.
Benefit for practice
- The classroom teacher will gain an overview of all students’ self-perceptions.
- Other professionals—school-level special education teachers, educational staff, profes-sional consultants—will receive feedback on how ‘their’ students with physical disa-bility perceive themselves compared with their classmates.
- Professionals working at the school can possibly make selected students’ ‘feeling of being integrated’ of a topic of discussion at school review meetings (SSG) or in other contexts and can plan interventions to support students’ feeling of being integrated.
Venetz, M., Zurbriggen, C., & Eckhart, M. (2014). Entwicklung und erste Validierung einer Kurzversion des Fragebogens zur Erfassung von Dimensionen der Integration von Schülern (FDI 4-6) von Haeberlin, Moser, Bless und Klaghofer. Empirische Sonderpädagogik, 2, 99-11.
In inclusive schooling, no differences were found between students with physical disabilities and their peers in emotional well-being, social participation, and academic self-concept.
The self-assessments of students with physical disabilities were in part higher at the transition to secondary school than at the primary level. Despite the class change, the transition to secondary education can still be an opportunity for inclusion.
The assessments by class teachers, school assistants, and special education teachers largely deviated negatively from the self-assessments by the students. Their external assessments of the students' social participation were significantly more negative.
In spite of the limitations of the pilot study due to convenience sampling, small number of cases, and uncontrolled context, the results indicate the need for further research on self-assessment and external assessment of school inclusion (for example, different reference standard orientation and comparison horizons but also differences between external assessments).
The study underlines the practical usefulness of the measurement instrument—the Perceptions of Inclusion Questionnaire (PIQ)—for identifying differing perspectives when reviewing the status quo in the schools.