academic competence and perceptions of risks in the classroom influence whether students will request help from either their peers or the teacher ( Murphy & Pintrich, 1995). This and other related research may have implications for cooperative groups with students with learning disabilities. Research on how students with learning disabilities are participating in the academic discussions would help us gain an understanding of the demand of these situations and the unique needs of students with disabilities in terms of their skills and their perceptions of the classroom.
Well-structured cooperative learning seems to be an effective way to accommodate student heterogeneity without stigmatizing students based on limited measures of their academic ability. This is particularly true for including students with learning disabilities in regular education classes. Both the research results and the theoretical rationale behind these results suggest that with cooperative learning heterogeneity in classrooms is not necessarily a problem or a weakness; it may instead be a strength. Beyond the obvious social benefits, being able to work with students who differ in their ability and their knowledge may help all students learn more and better understand what they already know.
These results also support Marston's ( 1987) conclusion that when students with disabilities are included in mainstream classes, it is necessary to provide the teacher with additional support to make inclusion successful. One type of support would be to include the special education teacher in the regular classroom to provide additional instruction to the students with disabilities. Another form of support that is implicit in the studies cited here is training. All of the teachers in the successful studies were trained in instructional methods and curricula that facilitated effective mainstreaming. Effective inclusion of students with disabilities was at least in part due to the instructional training and support the teachers received.
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