Document Type

Article

Publication Date

January 2013

Abstract

As colleges and universities prepare pre-service teachers to teach in inclusive classrooms, it is important tounderstand college students’ schema of diversity. Part of creating an inclusive classroom culture is to understandhow children view similarities and differences in others, and how to create a culture of acceptance. One way tocreate a culture of understanding is to use media representations and popular children’s television shows as aspringboard for conversation and acceptance, but before pre-service teachers can use media, they have to firstunderstand the characteristics and qualification criteria for students with disabilities, and also how the community atlarge perceives children with disabilities. This research investigated pre-service teachers’ understanding ofproportionality and equality in children’s television programming. University undergraduate students applying to oralready admitted into teacher education programs watched several hours of children’s television programs andanswered questions about the number of characters they observed with disabilities, as well as the way thesecharacters and their disabilities were presented in the show. The research showed that pre-service teachersdisproportionately identified more television characters as having disabilities. Implications for practice includeincreasing early knowledge of IDEA categories and focusing on positive inclusive models in children’sprogramming and media.

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