Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Teacher Education


The legal framework for educating students with mild to moderate disabilities in the general education setting requires districts to shift towards a more inclusive model of education; however, many districts continue to educate students with mild to moderate disabilities in separate classrooms. This qualitative research study explores the constructs of learner engagement and students’ perceived levels of engagement in both self-contained and general education settings through open-ended interviews. Questions focused on indicators of engagement and the students perceived levels of academic, cognitive, behavioral, and psychological engagement across settings. Student responses were analyzed and themes emerged indicating greater levels of engagement in inclusive settings and the need for further development of effective inclusionary practices. The findings suggest that while general education settings provide higher expectations and academic learner engagement for students with mild to moderate disabilities, they are not offering students the accommodations and individualized instruction that would foster a comfortable learning environment and strong psychological engagement. The findings also suggest that while self-contained settings provide students psychological engagement, they offer low academic learner engagement and expectations.


Thesis (M.A.) Teacher Education Department