A comparison of learning disabled school dropouts and learning disabled nondropouts on their perceptions of social alienation

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Sharon R. Vaughn - Committee Chair


Perceptions of social alienation from both teachers and classmates were compared between a sample of 20 learning disabled (LD) high school completers and 17 LD school dropouts. Both LD samples were obtained using extensive eligibility criteria to minimize excessive heterogeneity of subject variance, and to partially control for some already well established correlates of school dropout. Perceptions of social alienation from both teachers and classmates were measured using two structured survey instruments.The alienation surveys were administered to all subjects by telephone, and each subject was also engaged in informal questioning after survey completion. Survey results indicate significant between group differences with stronger perceptions of social alienation in the LD school dropouts from both teachers and classmates than the LD non-dropouts. There was a tendency for the LD dropouts to express stronger perceptions of alienation from teachers than classmates, but there was no difference for the LD non-dropouts. While nearly all survey items tended to discriminate between the LD groups, some items discriminated better than others. Also, the LD dropouts tended to have lower cognitive ability and comprised more ethnic minorities than the LD non-dropouts, but neither variable was correlated with perceptions of social alienation.Differences in perceptions of social alienation may arise from a process of social estrangement resulting from interpersonal relationship difficulties associated with deficits in cognitive ability/achievement, social skill problems, the LD labeling process, removal from the regular classroom, and/or learned helplessness. It may be that improved school programming can offer better prospects for remediating social relationship deficits.


Education, Special

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