Peer perception of the intellectually handicapped

  • Don Dornan

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    In 1980 Jackson and Knowles presented a paper at the Australian Group for the Study of Mental Deficiency [A.G.S.O.M.D.J conference in Launceston, Tasmania. The paper, titled “Primary School Children’s Perceptions and Understandings of Mental Retardation”, reported in detail responses on twenty questions from the sixty-three item questionnaire instrument used in their study. These twenty questions reflected stereotyped responses of an alarming nature. If these responses were a reflection of how Australian children generally thought, then integration of the intellectually handicapped child into mainstream classes would be counter productive. The current study was initiated to help assess the attitudes of Australian Capital Territory children to the Intellectually Handicapped. The twenty significant questions from the Tasmanian study were formed into a questionnaire and administered to 769 children in Years 3 and 6 from six Government and two Catholic schools in the Australian Capital Territory. In most cases the results were in direct contrast to those obtained in Tasmania. At first glance this meant that the attitudes of Australian Capital Territory children towards the Intellectually Handicapped were much less stereotyped than those of Tasmanian children. Further investigation, however, led to the discovery that the results from the Tasmanian study were spurious. The data had not been accurately computerized, giving a result that was probably the reverse of what Tasmanian children actually thought. Four supplementary hypotheses, comparing the responses of Years 3 and 6 girls and boys, Government and Private schools, exposed and unexposed schools, were tested. The analysis of the data for these hypotheses supported, to some degree, past findings that older children and girls have less stereotyped attitudes towards the Intellectually Handicapped than younger children and boys. The responses of Government schools versus Private schools were varied. Three of the five significantly different responses indicated a less stereotyped view was held by Government school children, while two of these significant questions indicated a less stereotyped view was held by Private school children. With regard to exposed and unexposed schools, the two significantly different responses indicated less stereotyped views were held by the nonexposed children. Future directions are indicated in the sections dealing with Limitations and Future Directions.
    Date of Award1986
    Original languageEnglish

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