Acceptance of Down Syndrome Students in Inclusive Higher Education Models
Shannon M. Kerr, Courtney L. Alongi, and Sara E. Dow
The inclusion of students with developmental disabilities now occurs at many institutions for higher education. To test perceptions of college students, 156 participants were randomly assigned to read one of six scenarios depicting a female with either mild or moderate levels of Down syndrome who planned to attend a college that implements one of three inclusive models; special education-only, integrated special education, or mainstream education. Afterward, students rated the likelihood of associating and helping the individual as well as reported their emotional reactions. Their friends’ reactions were also reported. Students’ general perceptions were assessed and their past experiences with both inclusion and Down syndrome individuals were noted. Results indicated that undergraduates were more accepting of a student with mild disabilities than one with moderate disabilities and were no significant differences based on the inclusion models. Results indicated those exposed to inclusion in elementary school reported more negative feelings than those unexposed to inclusion. These findings suggest students are unconcerned towards the inclusion of Down syndrome individuals in their higher education settings.