Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


Purpose. The first purpose of this study was to determine the differences in classroom experiences of four mainstreamed preschool children, two handicapped and two nonhandicapped. To determine these differences, three questions were asked: (1) Do teachers and peers interact differently with handicapped than with nonhandicapped children? (2) Is the use of the physical space in the classroom different for handicapped than for nonhandicapped? (3) What are some of the qualitative differences in the classroom experiences of the handicapped and nonhandicapped children?

The second purpose of this study was to draw out the themes that constituted the differences in experiences. The third purpose of this study was to raise issues from the themes for teachers to consider when they contemplate mainstreaming preschool handicapped children.

Method. This study utilized both quantitative and qualitative data collection procedures. The quantitative data was collected to answer the questions on social interactions and the use of physical space. The data on social interactions was collected using a coding system devised by the investigator and the data on the use of physical space was collected using a mapping procedure.

The data on qualitative differences was collected in a running narrative account of the classroom experiences of each of the subjects. The subjects were observed on a rotating basis.

Results. The investigator concluded from an analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data that the handicapped subjects had different classroom experiences than the nonhandicapped subjects. The more specific results of the quantitative data are: (1) Adults dominated the time of the handicapped subjects. (2) Peers had more interactions with the nonhandicapped subjects than with the handicapped subjects. (3) The most common initiations of interactions and the most common responses to initiations are verbal. (4) The nonhandicapped subjects had more moves per observed session than the handicapped subjects. (5) The handicapped subjects spent more time in each move. (6) The more open spaces were used more than small, defined areas.

The themes that were drawn out from the qualitative data are: (1) Adult responses to initiations of interaction. (2) Determination of Activity. (3) Play and Peer Interactions. (4) Play as social maturity. (5) Room arrangement. (6) Teacher-child density.