Date of Award:

1999

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Randall M. Jones

Abstract

This study measured the effectiveness of watching a motivational videotape and completing one semester of peer tutoring on changing high school students' attitudes towards their peers with disabilities. Attitudes were measured with the Scale of Attitudes Toward Disabled Persons (SADP), administered to classrooms in two randomly selected high schools before and after viewing the video. The SADP was administered to a different sample of students before and after completing one semester of tutoring peers with disabilities. Peer tutors also completed one-page weekly journals. Responses from all participating students were compared between the pre- and postassessments using paired t tests.

Seven attitudinal scales were derived from a factor analysis of the 24 items that compose the SADP. Two of the subscales (self-determination and community) were statistically significant, both in a positive direction for the treatment groups. The self determination subscale assesses attitudes about whether people with disabilities are competent. The community subscale assesses attitudes toward group homes in residential areas. Results from the videotape treatment group only were similar, with statistical significance for the same measures, while with the peer tutor group, statistical significance was found only with self-determination.

Two questions were included on the SADP about intentions to peer tutor. After participating in the videotape treatment, the percentage of students willing to peer tutor increased, the number of students who were not willing to peer tutor decreased, while the students who were ambivalent stayed about the same. Females were found to be more accepting of people with disabilities, scoring higher than males on positive attitudinal measures and lower on most negative measures.

The peer tutor journals provided a more in-depth examination of student attitudes. Peer tutoring increased comfort levels around people with disabilities for some students. Some students felt better about themselves. Several tutors reported that they became friends with the people they were tutoring. A few students expressed frustration with the person they were tutoring. Others wrote comments about how their perceptions of what people with disabilities can do changed positively.

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