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Abstract

College students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face challenges due to limited understanding of this condition. This study investigates college students' awareness of and openness to peers with ASD using an educational intervention. Data were analyzed via a pre–post survey design with two groups.

Factorial analysis of variance showed no significant differences between groups. However, a Wilcoxon signed-rank test revealed significant differences in the treatment group’s ranks on the openness scale and knowledge scale between pre- and post-intervention surveys. Findings yielded small (openness) and large effect sizes (knowledge) as expected. Brief educational interventions in required courses can thus potentially enhance students’ knowledge and engender positive future interactions with students with ASD.

Plain Language Summary

College students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face many social challenges. These difficulties stem from limited understanding of the disorder among students and staff. Peers’ responses may influence the academic and social success of students with ASD.

This study measured college students' awareness of and openness to students with ASD. An educational intervention was performed. No significant changes were found between groups’ scale scores and time of survey. However, the intervention group’s pre- and post-intervention scale scores differed significantly.

Results show the value of educational interventions. Providing brief autism-focused education in college courses may enhance students’ knowledge. This familiarity could promote positive interactions with peers with ASD.

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