Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Vicki D. Stayton


The relationship between social status and play interactions of students labelled learning disabled and their peers is an area which has received much attention. However, most of the research has focused on students in resource settings. The current study focused on students labelled learning disabled in self-contained settings. The study involved administering the Play With Rating Scale to 41 second and third graders in regular classrooms and to 11 same-aged peers who were learning disabled in self-contained settings. The results were divided into popular/average and unpopular status groups. Thirty-three children were observed at play utilizing an observation tool developed by the author. Observations were taken in the months of April and May during the subjects’ noon recesses.

Separate 2 x 2 x 2 analyses of variance were performed on each play behavior (Independent Passive, Independent Active, Positive Nonhandicapped, Positive Handicapped, Positive Mixed, Negative Nonhandicapped, Negative Handicapped, Negative Mixed) to examine the differences due to gender (Boy, Girl), handicap (Nonhandicapped, Learning Disabled) and status (Popular/Average, Unpopular). Girls spent significantly more time doing independent activities. Boys and girls labelled learning disabled were observed watching others or wandering around significantly more often than their peers who were nonhandicapped. Girls labelled learning disabled who were rated low in popularity spent more time watching others play.

Children who were nonhandicapped spent a significant amount of time playing with other children who were nonhandicapped. Likewise, students labelled learning disabled spent the majority of time interacting with other students who were learning disabled. Children rated as popular/average spent almost twice as much time interacting with children who were nonhandicapped than children rated as unpopular did. Conversely, children rated as unpopular interacted more with children labelled learning disabled. Boys were more likely to play with mixed groups of children.

There were very few observations of negative behaviors. Boys who were rated as unpopular were involved in significantly more negative interactions than any other group. The results of this study supported the research of several other professionals in the area of social mainstreaming.