A recent meta-analysis published in Review of Educational Research examined the cognitive and psychosocial outcomes of students with general learning difficulties (GLD) in inclusive education. Students with GLD are those with general difficulties in learning that affect their performance in most school subjects. The purpose of the review was to answer: Do students with GLD and their peers benefit from inclusive education?
The review included studies that compared students with GLD and their peers in inclusive settings and segregated settings. The studies had to evaluate the effects on cognitive outcomes, such as performance on standardized tests and metacognition, as well as psychosocial outcomes, such as social, attitudinal, emotional, and motivational aspects. Forty studies met the inclusion criteria. Results showed that:
- On average, students with GLD in inclusive education had larger cognitive outcomes compared to similar students in segregated settings (ES = +0.35, p < .001).
- With regard to psychosocial outcomes, no differences were found between the two settings (ES = 0.00, p = 0.95).
- For students without GLD, no significant effects were found for cognitive outcomes (ES = -0.14, p = 0.14) nor for psychosocial outcomes (ES = +0.06, p = 0.22).
The authors concluded that positive effects on cognitive outcomes for students with GLD and the neutral results on psychosocial outcomes for both students with GLD and their peers speak in favor of inclusive education.
Source: Krämer, S., Möller, J., & Zimmermann, F. (2021). Inclusive Education of Students With General Learning Difficulties: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 91(3), 432–478. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654321998072