Date of Award
Specialist in Education (Ed.S.)
J. Michael Leibowitz
This study evaluated the effectiveness of a disabilities awareness program, the Kids on the Block, in increasing students' knowledge of and attitudes toward individuals with disabilities. Kids on the Block is a program used around the world to educate children about disabilities, and to teach them to appreciate and accept differences in others. The Kids on the Block troop is composed of nearly life-size puppets, with and without disabilities, who look and act like real children. Seven hundred fifty-one second and fifth grade students drawn from three school districts in a large midwestem city participated in the study. Three hundred ninety-five of those students attended schools where children with disabilities were fully included with their regular education peers. Three hundred fifty-six of the students came from schools practicing integration, where individuals with disabilities were included with their regular education peers for part of the school day (typically lunch, recess, music. PE., and library). Students in the treatment group (n=496) were administered three different surveys assessing their knowledge of and attitudes toward individuals with disabilities at three different time periods (1-2 days prior to viewing the Kids on the Block performance, 1-2 days following the performance, and 4 weeks post-performance). Peer ratings of sociometric status were also obtained before the performance and four weeks following. Control subjects (n=255) completed all measures along the same time line. The measures consisted of surveys asking students about their previous experience with persons with disabilities, their knowledge of disabilities, and their attitude toward, or willingness to interact in various situations with persons with disabilities. Students in the treatment group showed significant improvement in both their knowledge of and attitudes toward individuals with disabilities; thus, indicating that the Kids on the Block program can effectively improve students' attitudes toward persons with disabilities, as well as increase their knowledge of disabilities. Improvements in scores on the measures were seen for both second and fifth grade students, and for both males and females. No changes occurred on the sociometric measures.
Schumacher, Jean M., "The effectiveness of the Kids on the Block program in increasing children's knowledge of and attitudes toward individuals with disabilities." (1998). Student Work. 2692.