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Development of an instrument to measure action choices toward handicapped persions reflective of underlying general socio-moral reasoning
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Increased integration of the handicapped in regular classrooms, popularly called mainstreaming, has drawn attention to how nonhandicapped students are affected. Numerous authors have contended that integration has the potential to positively affect nonhandicapped individuals' socio-moral development. Empirical data to support this contention have not accumulated as an instrument has not been available to measure value reflective conative attitudes toward the handicapped. This study addressed the problem of development of an instrument to measure action choices toward the handicapped which would reflect the attitude holder's underlying general socio-moral reasoning. Item responses relating to integration issues were constructed to represent characteristic moral judgment at various levels. The developed "Action Choices Toward Handicapped" (A.C.T.H.) instrument was field tested with two samples of 138 subjects each, including high school students, graduate students, and teachers. Research questions focused on instrument validity, internal consistency and reliability, and variables affecting scores. Validity was supported by a panel of judges critique, and a significant positive correlation between scores on the A.C.T.H. and the Defining Issues Test (D.l.T.) of general moral reasoning. Nonsignificant effects of: order of tests; directions to try to obtain a high score; knowledge of handicapped law; and sex supported the discriminant validity of the A.C.T.H. The reliability was determined to be .71. Variables tested for their effect on scores included reported: family member who is handicapped: close handicapped friend; and integrated education experience. Mean A.C.T.H. and D.l.T. scores were significantly higher for subjects reporting having had integrated educational experience. Forty-six of the subjects also completed a commonly used test of general attitudes toward disabled persons, the A.T.D.P. Subjects' A.T.D.P. scores had a nonsignificant correlation with the both the A.C.T.H. and D.l.T. scores, indicating that the developed instrument was a better indicator of attitude holder's underlying socio-moral reasoning in this study. Additional research is recommended before making generalizations about use and interpretation of the developed A.C.T.H. instrument.
- Doctoral Dissertations