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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)




Inclusion is a model of educating children with disabilities that has been defined as incorporating "all students in the mainstream of regular education classes and school activities with their age peers from the same community" (Stainback & Stainback, 1990, p. 225). Because it is a nontraditional approach, inclusion has been studied frequently since its inception in the 1980's. A substantial body of research has demonstrated its beneficial effects on the academic, behavioral, and social functioning of students with disabilities. While less frequently researched, benefits for students without disabilities have also been demonstrated (Maras & Brown, 2000). Children without disabilities have been found to form more positive attitudes towards others with disabilities as well as acquire unique psychological and academic benefits from exposure to peers with disabilities in various contexts, including inclusive settings (Maras & Brown, 2000; Maras & Brown, 1996; Nowicki, 2006; Kamps et aI., 1998; Cushing & Kennedy, 1997; Staub, 1999; Peltier, 1997). Yet, the effects of inclusion on the social competence of students without disabilities is less clear, though it is likely that exposure to peers with disabilities and an inclusive environment that promotes prosocial values could foster empathy and prosocial behaviors in these students (Eisenberg, Fabes, & Spinrad, 2006; Solomon, Battistich, Watson, Schaps, & Lewis, 2000; Battistich, Schaps, Watson, Solomon, & Lewis, 2000; Mussen & Eisenberg, 2001). Thus, the current study investigated the level of empathy and prosocial behavior among students without disabilities as possible outcomes of attending an inclusive school, Oakstone Academy. Social Competence: Empathy and Prosocial Behavior