Disability Studies Pedagogy: Engaging Dissonance and Meaning Making

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Kathleen Hulgin
Susan O'Connor
E. Frank Fitch
Margaret Gutsell


disability studies, critical pedagogy, student response


Student responses to disability studies pedagogy are influenced by the context in which they learn. This study examined student responses in two disability studies initiatives: one within a teacher preparation program that included American Indian students, the other within a stand alone, interdisciplinary course taken primarily by Americans of European descent. Course dialogue and students' written assignments were used to identify and categorize their responses. While some students readily engaged in critique of disability as culturally constructed, experiences of significant resistance related to positivist filters, adherence to individualism, and defense of identity-related norms. These responses are discussed as considerations for more effective pedagogy in this relatively new field.
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