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Me myself and I

Explaining the self-concept of students in mainstream and special education through the eyes of their peers
PhD ceremony:Ms F.M. (Ivonne) Douma
When:February 05, 2024
Start:12:45
Supervisors:dr. A.A. (Anke) de Boer, prof. dr. A.E.M.G. (Alexander) Minnaert
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Me myself and I

The global transition towards inclusive education goes hand in hand with a new perspective on the purpose of education, and, as a result, socialoutcomes of education are becoming increasingly more important. The objective of this dissertation was to unravel the self-concept of students with an intellectual disability, social-emotional behavioural problems, and typically developing students, within an inclusive educational setting.

The self-concept was approached from three different perspectives: the scientific, the individual, and the peer perspective.

The scientific perspective disclosed ongoing methodological and conceptual challenges in self-concept research, complicating the determination of whether inclusive education is beneficial for students or not. The literature review underscored the pivotal role of peers in fostering a positive self-concept.

The individual perspective revealed that students with and without special educational needs assess their social self-concept below average. Students with special educational needs often assess their self-concept similarly, but not always as positively as typically developing students.

From the peer perspective, it became clear that peer acceptance is the most important predictor for a positive self-concept among all students, more so than friendships. Individual characteristics of a student, such as severity of problem behaviour or lack of social skills, proved to be of minor importance in obtaining peer acceptance. Student acceptance is mainly determined by how students are perceived by other peers.

This dissertation emphasizes that students, regardless of special educational needs, share more similarities than dissimilarities. It highlights the essential role peers play in promoting acceptance and a positive self-concept.