Experiences of Youth Studying Together with Classmates with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities


  • Vaida Asakavičiūtė Department of Entertainment Industries, Faculty of Creative Industries, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Trakų str. 1, LT-10223 Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Vilija Grincevičienė Department of Entertainment Industries, Faculty of Creative Industries, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Trakų g. 1, 10223 Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Vilija Targamadzė Department of Educology, Faculty of Philosophy, Vilnius University, Universiteto g. 9/1, 01513 Vilnius, Lithuania
  • Živilė Sederevičiūtė-Pačiauskienė Department of Creativity Communication, Faculty of Creative Industries, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Saulėtekio al. 11, 10223 Vilnius, Lithuania




inclusive education, special educational needs, disability, school, pupils


Aim. Most children and young people do not have a social experience of dealing with peers with disabilities and disadvantages which causes various problems for both sides. The relevant reactions of the class group to the behaviour of a classmate with learning disabilities can have the same positive effect on the individual as the professional help of the class teacher or psychologist. The study research question was to understand how classmates perceive their experiences communicating and cooperating with peers with special educational needs or disabilities.

Methods. The phenomenographic research approach was chosen to carry out the study. Face-to-face in-depth interviews were carried out to collect the data. The informant‘s selection criteria were students who had studied for at least one year in a standard classroom with peers with special educational needs or disabilities and had been in contact with and cooperated with them in general education secondary school.

Results. The positive experience is related to the development of will and character traits, lessons of tolerance, development of empathy, building social support skills, and lessons in sociability. The negative experience is related to dealing with outbreaks of aggression and egression, communication problems and mistakes, and disturbances during lessons.

Conclusion. The participants' positive experiences show that the social environment and education accelerate the formation of the personality and direct it towards sociability. Participants' negative experiences signalled the abundance of problems existing in the reality of education and their multifacetedness.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

  • Vaida Asakavičiūtė, Department of Entertainment Industries, Faculty of Creative Industries, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Trakų str. 1, LT-10223 Vilnius, Lithuania

    A Professor with a PhD in Philosophy at the Department of Entertainment Industries within the Faculty of Creative Industries at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania. She has authored over 50 research papers and presented more than 20 scientific reports at national and international conferences. Her research interests include cultural studies, communication and creativity, education, ethics, non-classical philosophy, and the philosophy of communication.

  • Vilija Grincevičienė, Department of Entertainment Industries, Faculty of Creative Industries, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Trakų g. 1, 10223 Vilnius, Lithuania

    Prof. Dr. of social sciences (Educational sciences), expert in NGO International Social Academy and Vytautas Magnus University, university lecturer in Vilnius Tech. Areas of research: development of education system, peculiarities of teacher training, sociology of education.      

  • Vilija Targamadzė, Department of Educology, Faculty of Philosophy, Vilnius University, Universiteto g. 9/1, 01513 Vilnius, Lithuania

    Prof. Dr. Habil. of social sciences ( Educational sciences), expert, long-time member of doctoral committees, member of editorial colleges of scientific journals, member of scientific committees for conferences, member of the Education and Science Committee of Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania.

    Areas of research: education quality management, didactics, social exclusion.

  • Živilė Sederevičiūtė-Pačiauskienė, Department of Creativity Communication, Faculty of Creative Industries, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Saulėtekio al. 11, 10223 Vilnius, Lithuania

    Ph.D. and a professor of the Department of Creativity Communication at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. Her fields of scientific interest are education, instructional communication, communication in education systems, educational innovations, and distance education. Professor Živilė Sederevičiūtė-Pačiauskienė has published over 40 articles and five student handbooks and guidelines and has developed and led international and national large-scale projects.


Ainscow, M. (1995). Special needs through school improvement; school improvement through special needs. In C. Clark, A. Dyson, & A. Millward (Eds.), Towards inclusive schools? (pp. 63-77). Routledge.

Åkerlind, G. S. (2005). Variation and commonality in phenomenographic research methods. Higher Education Research & Development, 24(4), 321-334. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360500284672

Al-Yagon, M. & Mikulincer, M. (2004). Socioemotional and academic adjustment among children with learning disorders: The mediational role of attachment-based factors. Journal of Special Education, 38, 111-123. https://doi.org/10.1177/00224669040380020501

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Andreou, E., Didaskalou, E., & Vlachou, A. (2015). Bully/victim problems among G reek pupils with special educational needs: associations with loneliness and self‐efficacy for peer interactions. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 15(4), 235-246. https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-3802.12028

Bagdonas, A. & Bliumas, R. (2019). Aiškinamasis psichologijos terminų žodynas [Explanatory glossary of psychological terms]. Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos centras.

Bevington, G. (1996). [Revie of the book Transforming Qualitative Data: Description, Analysis, and Interpretation H. F. Wolcott]. Modern Language Journal, 80(3), 405-406. https://doi.org/10.2307/329455

Booth, S. (1997). On Phenomenography, Learning and Teaching. Higher Education Research & Development, 16(2), 135–158. https://doi.org/10.1080/0729436970160203

Booth, T. & Ainscow, M. (2002). Index for inclusion: Developing learning and participation in schools. Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE). https://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/Index%20English.pdf

Bossaert, G., Colpin, H., Pijl, S. J., & Petry, K. (2013). Truly included? A literature study focusing on the social dimension of inclusion in education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(1), 60-79. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2011.580464

Bowden, J. A. (2000). Experience of phenomenographic research: A personal account. In J. A. Bowden & E. Walsh (Eds.), Phenomenography (pp. 47-61). RMIT University Press.

Dahlgren, L. & Fallsberg, M. (1991). Phenomenography as a qualitative approach in social pharmacy research. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 8(4), 150–156.

Daily, S. M., Mann, M. J., Kristjansson, A. L., Smith, M. L., & Zullig, K. J. (2019). School climate and academic achievement in middle and high school students. Journal of School Health, 89(3), 173-180. https://doi.org/10.1111/josh.12726

Didaskalou, E., Andreou, E., & Vlachou, A. (2009). Bullying and victimization in children with special educational needs: Implications for inclusive practices. Interactions/Interacções, 13, 249-274. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236159103_Didaskalou_E_Andreou_E_Vlachou_A_2009_'Bullying_and_Victimization_in_Children_with_Special_Educational_Needs_Implications_for_Inclusive_Practices'_Interaccoes_13_249-274

Ekins, A. (2015). The changing face of special educational needs: Impact and implications for SENCOs, teachers and their schools. Routledge.

Entwistle, N. (1997). Introduction: Phenomenography in Higher Education. Higher Education Research & Development, 16(2), 127–134.

Florian, L. (2019). On the necessary co-existence of special and inclusive education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 23(7-8), 691-704. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2019.1622801

Frederickson, N., Simmonds, E., Evans, L., & Soulsby, C. (2007). Assessing the social and affective outcomes of inclusion. British Journal of Special Education, 34(2), 105-115. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8578.2007.00463.x

Girli, A., Sarı, H. Y., Kırkım, G., & Narin, S. (2016). University students’ attitudes towards disability and their views on discrimination. International Journal of Developmental Disabilities, 62(2), 98-107. https://doi.org/10.1179/2047387715Y.0000000008

Jovaiša, L. (2007). Enciklopedinis edukologijos žodynas [Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Education]. Gimtasis žodis.

Kefallinou, A., Symeonidou, S., & Meijer, C. J. W. (2020). Understanding the value of inclusive education and its implementation: a review of the literature. Prospects, 49(3-4), 135-152. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-020-09500-2

Kielblock, S. & Woodcock, S. (2023). Who’s included and Who’s not? An analysis of instruments that measure teachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 122, 103922. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2022.103922

Koster, M., Nakken, H., Pijl, S. J., & van Houten, E. J. (2009). Being part of the peer group: a literature study focussing on the social dimension of inclusion in education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(2), 117-140. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110701284680

Kritsotakis, E. I., Kontopidou, F., Astrinaki, E., Roumbelaki, M., Ioannidou, E., & Gikas, A. (2017). Prevalence, incidence burden, and clinical impact of healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance: A national prevalent cohort study in acute care hospitals in Greece. Infection and drug resistance, 10, 317-328. https://doi.org/10.2147/IDR.S147459

Magnússon, G., Göransson, K., & Lindqvist, G. (2019). Contextualising Inclusive Education in Education Policy: The Case of Sweden. Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policies, 5(2), 67-77. https://doi.org/10.1080/20020317.2019.1586512

Mariani, M., Sink, C. A., Villares, E., & Berger, C. (2018). Measuring classroom climate: A validation study of the My Child’s Classroom Inventory-Short Form for parents. Professional School Counseling, 22(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/2156759x19860132

Marton, F. & Booth, S. (1997). Learning and awareness. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Marton, F. (1986). Phenomenography: A research approach to investigating different understandings of reality. Journal of Thought, 21(3), 28–49.

Marton, F. (1994). Phenomenography. In T. Husen & T. N. Postlethwaite (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of education (2nd ed., Vol. 8, pp. 4424-4429). Pergamon.

Meade, W. (2019). Handcuffs in schools: Do school resource officers fill a role in special education? Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership, 22(1), 73-82.

Molina Roldán, S., Marauri, J., Aubert, A., & Flecha, R. (2021). How inclusive interactive learning environments benefit students without special needs. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 661427. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.661427

Moreno, F. J., Rodríguez, I. R., Saldaña D., & Aguilera A. (2006). Actitudes ante la discapacidad en el alumnado universitario matriculado en materias afines [Attitudes towards disability in university students enrolled in related subjects [Special issue]. Revista Iberoamericana de Educación, 40(5). https://doi.org/10.35362/rie4052493

Palinkas, L. A., Horwitz, S. M., Green, C. A., Wisdom, J. P., Duan, N., & Hoagwood, K. (2015). Purposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implementation research. Administration and policy in mental health and mental health services research, 42(5), 533–544. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-013-0528-y

Parsons, T. (2017). The present status of “structural-functional” theory in sociology. In: L. A. Coser (Ed.). (1975). The idea of social structure (1st ed.). Routledge. 67-84.

Pasta, T., Mendola, M., Longobardi, C., Pino, L. E., & Gastaldi, F. G. M. (2013). Attributional style of children with and without Specific Learning Disability. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 11(3), 649-664.

Polo Sánchez, M. T., Fernández Jiménez, C., & Díaz Batanero, C. (2011). Estudio de las actitudes de estudiantes de Ciencias Sociales y Psicología: relevancia de la información y contacto con personas discapacitadas [Study of the attitudes of students of Social Sciences and Psychology: relevance of information and contact with disabled people]. Universitas Psychologica, 10(1), 113-123.

Reyes, M. R., Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., White, M., & Salovey, P. (2012). Classroom emotional climate, student engagement, and academic achievement. Journal and Educational Psychology, 104(3), 700-712. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027268

Sandberg, J. (1997). Are phenomenographic results reliable? Higher Education Research & Development,16(2), 203–212.

Schwab, S., Lehofer, M., & Tanzer, N. (2021). The impact of social behavior and peers’ attitudes toward students with special educational needs on self-reported peer interactions. Frontiers in Education, 6, 561662. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2021.561662

Stenfors-Hayes, T., Hult, H., & Dahlgren, M. A. (2013). A phenomenographic approach to research in medical education. Medical Education, 47(3), 261–270.

Suriá, R. (2011). Análisis comparativo sobre las actitudes de los estudiantes hacia sus compañeros con discapacidad [Comparative analysis of students' attitudes towards their peers with disabilities]. Revista Electrónica de Investigación Psicoeducativa. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 9(1), 197-216.

Targamadzė V., Asakavičiūtė V., & Grincevičiene V. (2020). Generation Z: Modus Vivendi (The Case of Lithuania). Cultura. International Journal of Philosophy of Culture and Axiology, 17(1), 121-137. https://doi.org/10.3726/CUL012020.0008

Thapa A., Cohen J., Guffey S., & Higgins-D’Alessandro A. (2013). A review of school climate research. Review of Educational Research, 83(3), 357–385.

Tsang, K. L. V. (2013). Secondary pupils’ perceptions and experiences towards studying in an inclusive classroom. International Journal of Whole Schooling, 9(2), 39-60.

Uysal, M. & Nouri, H. (2014). Optical wireless communications—An emerging technology. In E. Leitgeb, P. Nyga, & M. Marciniak (Eds.), 16th international conference on transparent optical networks (ICTON) (pp. 1-7). IEEE.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2020). Towards Inclusion In Education: Status, Trends And Challenges. The UNESCO Salamanca Statement 25 years on. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. https://doi.org/10.54675/ASIM9654

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; Ministry of Education and Science. (1994, June 7-10) The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000098427

Valero, D., Redondo-Sama, G., & Elboj, C. (2018). Interactive groups for immigrant students: a factor for success in the path of immigrant students. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 22(7), 787-802. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2017.1408712

Walker, C. (1998). Learning to learn, phenomenography, and children‘s learning. Education and Child Psychology, 15(3), 25-33.

Woodgate, R. L., Gonzalez, M., Demczuk, L., Snow, W. M., Barriage, S., & Kirk, S. (2020). How do peers promote social inclusion of children with disabilities? A mixed-methods systematic review. Disability and Rehabilitation, 42(18), 2553-2579. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2018.1561955

Yin, R. (1984). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Sage Publications.

Zubiri-Esnaola, H., Vidu, A., Rios-Gonzalez, O., & Morla-Folch, T. (2020). Inclusivity, participation and collaboration: learning in interactive groups. Educational Research, 62(2), 162-180. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2020.1755605




How to Cite

Asakavičiūtė, V., Grincevičienė, V., Targamadzė, V., & Sederevičiūtė-Pačiauskienė, Živilė . (2024). Experiences of Youth Studying Together with Classmates with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Journal of Education Culture and Society, 15(1), 213-230. https://doi.org/10.15503/jecs2024.1.213.230