Peer Interactions in Academic Contexts for Adolescents with Disabilities

Author: ORCID icon
Wilson, Sarah Emily, Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Therrien, Bill, CU-Curr Instr & Sp Ed, University of Virginia

Peer interactions have been found to be essential in children’s social, cognitive, emotional, and language development which are critical aspects to an individual’s quality of life. Within the classroom, peer interactions support access to opportunities for learning and advancement in content standards. Yet, existing research examining peer interactions, specifically among autistic children and adolescents, reflect lessened peer interactions in school settings. As such, the academic and social affordances of peer interactions in schools may not be fully realized for students with disabilities. The purpose of this three-article dissertation is to provide a holistic understanding of the role of peer interactions in accessing academic contexts for students with disabilities and explore how past, current, and future research on peer interactions influences how we educate students with disabilities. Specifically, this dissertation examines (a) inquiry-based science instruction, a pedagogy that relies heavily on academic conversations, (b) how students with intellectual and developmental disabilities are often supported socially at the secondary level, and (c) how autistic adolescents experience peer interactions in academic settings. Implications for research, policy, and practice are discussed.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
students with disabilities, peer interactions, science inquiry, peer mediated interventions
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