The Price of Acceptance: Socioeconomic Factors and College Students' Attitudes Towards Individuals with Disabilities
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Prior research has focused on how other factors may impact college students’ attitudes toward individuals with disabilities (e.g., Griffin et al., 2012), as well as how economic factors predict attitudes toward social issues, yet no available studies have analyzed the extent to which socioeconomic status impacts college students’ attitudes towards individuals with IDD. As IPSE programs become more common, understanding the underlying mechanisms that either promote or obstruct students’ success is vital to creating a diverse and inclusive campus life for all students. As seen in other studies, socioeconomic status affects more than just the amount of money a person has; these factors may provide insight as to whether the type of students who attend Texas A&M would be supportive of an inclusive program. Our research team used a campus-wide questionnaire of 1,273 students at Texas A&M University regarding inclusion in postsecondary education for students with IDD. My thesis focused on specific responses from undergraduate students to the statement, “I would be comfortable being in the same class as someone with IDD,” (n=1094) which they answered on a 5-point scale (Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, Strongly Agree). We used family’s combined household income as a proxy for socioeconomic status. My research question is as follows: Is socioeconomic status a predictor of undergraduate students’ comfort levels towards individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities? Parent’s education and race were both negatively correlated with income, and knowing someone with a disability positively correlated with income. In the regression model, income was not a significant predictor of comfort levels towards individuals with IDD at p<0.05 level. However, familiarity with the term IDD, knowing someone with a disability, and gender were significant at p<0.05 level. Income was not significant in the model, implying that socioeconomic status does not have an affect on student comfort levels towards individuals with IDD. This could reflect positively on the issue as a whole, showing that SES would not affect how students feel towards individuals with disabilities. Other significant factors included familiarity with the term IDD and knowing someone with a disability, suggesting that efforts should be focused more on raising awareness amongst students. According to the model, educating the student population about inclusion and IDD would have a much stronger impact on comfort levels than SES. The results indicate that Texas A&M students could be supportive of an IPSE.
Subjectsocioeconomic status, SES, income, college, students, undergraduate, higher education, postsecondary, education, disabilities, IDD, comfort levels, attitudes, inclusion, inclusive, IPSE
Foster, Kaitlin M (2020). The Price of Acceptance: Socioeconomic Factors and College Students' Attitudes Towards Individuals with Disabilities. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from