Meta-Analysis: Examining the use of interventions in changing children’s attitudes about their peers with intellectual disabilities
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, enacted in 1975, entitled all children with disabilities equal access to public education. As more children with disabilities were integrated into classrooms, new challenges like peer acceptance presented themselves. Researchers developed interventions aimed to improve children’s attitudes toward their peers with disabilities (Siperstein, Norins, & Mohler, 2007). We conducted a meta-analysis to examine intervention effectiveness. Keyword searches for literature were conducted using databases and 80 articles were utilized. A subset of the identified research articles were coded for moderators and these 10 articles produced 30 effect sizes. Results suggest that the interventions were successful in improving children’s attitudes toward their peers and that several moderators impacted intervention successfulness. Specifically, interventions were more successful when participants were in elementary school compared to high school; when they involved media presentations or multiple intervention strategies compared to cooperative groups; and when participants had a active role in the intervention. Additionally, interventions were more successful in changing children’s perceptions of the warmth, but not competence, of their peers with intellectual disabilities; thus, following the intervention, children saw their peers with disabilities as more friendly but not more intelligent or independent.