Outcomes of mandatory disability studies on nurse and teacher education students' attitudes toward people with disabilities

Year: 1996

Author: Hickson, Fay, Smith, Ian

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper reports the findings of a longitudinal study investigating attitude formation and change toward people with disabilities in a sample of Australian undergraduate nurse and teacher education students. Major variables predicted to account for changes in student attitudes, as well as outcomes of the mandatory disability unit on students, effects of different forms of contact with people with disabilities on resultant attitudes, and outcomes of the mandatory disability unit on students' future career and postgraduate study choices are reported in the paper. Although the main focus of the study was not comparative, different outcomes for nurse and teacher education students were evident. While positive attitude change in teaching students across the three years of university training demonstrates the success of mandatory special education units, nursing students' more negative attitudes after completion of the mandatory unit challenge the common assumption that positive attitude change is always an outcome of mandatory disability study. The ramifications of these findings for policy and curriculum development are discussed, particularly the preparation and support of students across the practicum experience.