Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Nowicki, Elizabeth A.


The focus of the present study was to examine third- and fourth-graders’ thoughts on social exclusion of peers with learning difficulties; participants’ responses were expected to corroborate Aboud’s (1988, 2008) social-cognitive developmental theory of prejudice. Moreover, Trochim’s (1989) Group Concept Mapping method was applied to engage the children in the data collection and analysis processes. The second goal of this study was to observe the participants’ capabilities in completing the research tasks. Findings revealed four themes in children’s responses: (a) differences between children, (b) challenges experienced by children with learning difficulties, (c) others’ negative attitudes, and (d) traits leading to disapproval from others. The partial corroboration of Aboud’s theory suggested that third- and fourth-graders are developing cognitive flexibility to become less prejudiced. Hence, this may be an ideal period to introduce educational interventions about learning difficulties and social exclusion. Furthermore, the participants were capable of providing meaningful responses but would benefit from individual and step-by-step guidance during the research tasks.