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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Robert D. Mendelsohn


This qualitative investigation is focused on the junior high level educably mentally handicapped (EMH) student in the public school organizational system. The macro variables of organizational ideology and philosophy; the intervening variables of the classroom, teacher, and peer environment; and the micro variables of' the student and the student's role in the larger structure are addressed. Using a case study approach in two rural school districts, the investigator concluded that both the larger structural-organizational environment and the classroom environment affect the handicapped student. This study suggests that these environments may or may not be consistent with one another and/or supportive of particular handicapped students. Special education researchers must conceptualize, operationalize, control for, and test all possible combinations of interactions before empirical support can be demonstrated conclusively for one particular combination of environments. On a practical level it is hoped that these data will contribute to the understanding of the varying needs of mentally handicapped learners within the complexities of the school social system.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Mainstreaming in education

Rural schools

Special education

Children with disabilities -- Education



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University