Perceptions of music students toward students with special needs
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Research has indicated that students with little to no exposure to persons with special needs typically have a negative perception of those people. Since the implementation of PL 94-142, known as the “mainstreaming law,” inclusion of special needs students within the music classroom is becoming much more common. For music educators it is important to foster positive attitudes between students with and without special needs in order to promote academic and social advances. Therefore music educators should strive to understand the attitudes of students without special needs toward those with special needs and if those attitudes can be altered. The purpose of this study was to (a) assess music students’ attitudes toward individuals with disabilities, (b) compare the attitude ratings of music students based on gender and age, and (c) observe if a change in attitude occurred after viewing videos of students possessing selected disabling conditions participating in everyday music settings. Methodology consisted of public school students currently enrolled in any music class (N=75) 1) completing a modified DFS preliminary survey, 2) watching a four minute video of the involved disabilities, hearing, mental, physical, and visual, and 3) completing a second copy of the modified DFS as a concluding survey. Results indicated that there were significant differences for all participants between the preliminary survey and the concluding survey. Data were also compared for significant differences between genders, ages, and disabilities. Though there were a few significant differences, few existed in these areas. There were data to support that the female participants were more accepting towards disabilities than male participants and that overall acceptance level regardless of gender or age increased for participants from the preliminary to concluding survey.