Through our eyes: What effect does participation in an inclusive primary grade classroom community have on a typical student? a qualitative study
O'Brien, Barbara Kneeland
The purpose of this qualitative research study was to determine what effect my inclusive primary grade classroom has had on my typical students. This study was designed using a qualitative phenomenological method of inquiry that drew on the analysis methods of Moustakas (1994), Creswell (1998; 2007), and Van Manen (1994). I used these phenomenological methods to look for the phenomenon of the everyday lived experience in an inclusive primary grade classroom and its impact on typical students (Van Manen, 1990).The research question that guided this study was: What impact does participation in an inclusive primary grade classroom setting have on typical students? ���Phenomenology is the description of lived experience� which is also described as the essence of the experience (Van Manen, 1990, p. 25). The lived experience of being in an inclusive classroom was described by twenty of my present and former typical students. Research focused on the collection of the students��� responses to interview and survey questions, anecdotes collected from entries in my reflective journals which included stories from my colleagues and parents of students. Analysis of data revealed three themes: inclusion means learning together; it is okay to be different; and a classroom community means everyone learning together. These three themes described the lived experience of being in an inclusive classroom through the eyes of my students. The data analysis revealed students had been impacted by the inclusive primary classroom community and it also revealed that the essence of my inclusive classroom is the community my students and I build together.