Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Mainstreaming in education; Children with disabilities--Education;


Regular classrooms have been increasingly identified as the placement of choice for special-needs children, including those diagnosed to have severe disabilities. Undergirding this movement has been an increase in research unfavorable to segregated, homogeneous and favorable to integrated, heterogeneous instructional arrangements. The knowledge base regarding how to facilitate the regular-class integration of severely disabled students, however, is in its infancy.

The purpose of this inquiry was to examine regular elementary teachers' practices and perceptions concerning their instruction of students with severe disabilities who had been integrated into their classrooms. Participant observation, interviewing, and constant comparative methods were employed to render a holistic understanding of 3 elementary teachers' strategies, support service usage, and views relative to their integrated education of severely disabled pupils.

Instructional strategy examination areas included style, subject matter, purpose, and methods. The investigated teachers were found to have structured and inclusive styles. Identified elements of their structure involved use of routines and relatively fixed schedules. Inclusiveness was reflected in their supportive postures and flexible responses to students and curricula. Employment of meaningful, story-related, and attitude-expanding subject matter was common to the 3 instructors. Their identified purposes involved the facilitation of psychologically safe and peer-interactive environments wherein multilevel curricula were provided. Common elements supporting the latter entailed use of heterogeneously structured cooperative groups, related activities, and whole language instruction. Methodologically, these teachers employed individual behavior management techniques and peer buddies.

Three identified categories of support service were provided on a direct (in-class) basis. Included were instruction in whole language, development of integrated students' appropriate behavior, and facilitation of their peer support networks. One common perception was found. All instructors had positive views regarding their experiences as teachers in integrated classrooms.

The data suggest that integrated instructional arrangements may be enhanced by structures affording predictability and facilitating peer interaction and collaboration. Classroom climates that promote acceptance of human diversity and all students' positive self-concepts are also indicated. Employment of a wide range of academic-behavioral approaches, including whole language instruction, appears important. Support service provision may encompass development of integrated students' academic-behavioral skills and peer understanding of their needs and goals.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Gregory P. Stefanich, Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Susan B. Stainback, Co-Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xix, 832 pages)



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