A Comparison of the Perceptions of General and Special Education Teachers on Inclusion of Students with Special Needs in the Elementary School Classroom

Open Access
Livingston, Diana Marie
Area of Honors:
Elementary and Kindergarten Education (Berks/Lehigh)
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Bender, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr Sandy Feinstein, Honors Advisor
  • Inclusion
  • Special Education
  • Elementary Education
The thesis questions were created after reflecting upon past educational experiences as a student with a physical disability and considering how teachers make an impact on the inclusion of students with special needs within their classrooms. The thesis goal was to understand more about how general and special education teachers approach the inclusion of all students and if there are any noticeable differences in these approaches. A questionnaire including qualitative and quantitative response options was created and administered to twenty educators at an urban elementary school in Reading, Pennsylvania. There was a significant difference in how the teachers felt the students may benefit from inclusion with general education teachers indicating the students benefitted academically and special education teachers indicating the students benefitted the most socially. The two groups of teachers were in agreement that most school personnel support inclusion. A majority of both general and special education teachers indicated their preference of going to an administrator with questions or needs regarding inclusive classrooms. General and special education teachers indicated students with special needs did not gain the highest social benefit by being in an inclusive classroom with their peers without special needs. A majority of special education teachers reported that they thought students without special needs benefitted socially by being in inclusive classrooms while general education teachers reported that these students benefitted academically. A greater understanding has been gained regarding the resources both types of teachers use and how they perceive inclusion impacts their classrooms and students since they indicated the resources they use and the impact of an inclusive classroom on students with and without special needs.