Review: typically-developing students' views and experiences of inclusive education

Helen Bates, Aileen McCafferty, Ethel Quayle, Karen McKenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract Purpose: The present review aimed to summarize and critique existing qualitative studies that have examined typically-developing students' views of inclusive education (i.e. the policy of teaching students with special educational needs in mainstream settings). Methods: Guidelines from the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination were followed, outlining the criteria by which journal articles were identified and critically appraised. Narrative Synthesis was used to summarize findings across studies. Results: Fourteen studies met the review's inclusion criteria and were subjected to quality assessment. Analysis revealed that studies were of variable quality: three were of "good" methodological quality, seven of "medium" quality, and four of "poor" quality. With respect to findings, three overarching themes emerged: students expressed mostly negative attitudes towards peers with disabilities; were confused by the principles and practices of inclusive education; and made a number of recommendations for improving its future provision. Conclusions: A vital determinant of the success of inclusive education is the extent to which it is embraced by typically-developing students. Of concern, this review highlights that students tend not to understand inclusive education, and that this can breed hostility towards it. More qualitative research of high methodological quality is needed in this area. Implications for Rehabilitation Typically-developing students are key to the successful implementation of inclusive education. This review shows that most tend not to understand it, and can react by engaging in avoidance and/or targeted bullying of peers who receive additional support. Schools urgently need to provide teaching about inclusive education, and increase opportunities for contact between students who do and do not receive support (e.g. cooperative learning).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalDisability and rehabilitation
Early online date19 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • inclusive education
  • psychosocial
  • qualitative systematic review
  • special education needs
  • students' perceptions
  • support for learning

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