Science for Education Today, 2021, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 7–30

Attitudes of undergraduates majoring in different branches of science towards fellow students with disabilities: A comparative analysis

Mikhalenkova I. A. 1 ( St. Petersburg, Russian Federation), Rostomashvili I. E. 1 ( St. Petersburg, Russian Federation), Shumova Y. V. 2 ( Chelyabinsk, Russian Federation), Shumov A. V. 2 ( Chelyabinsk, Russian Federation), Izmailova L. S. 3 ( St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)
1 PEIHE "Institute of Special Pedagogy and Psychology"
2 South Ural State University, Center for the introduction and development of inclusive technologies
3 The Herzen State Pedagogical Univercity of Russia

Introduction. The article addresses the relevant problem of designing an accessible socio- psychological environment within the framework of higher education institutions for people with special education needs and disabilities. The purpose of this study is to evaluate readiness of students majoring in different branches of science to understand, respect and accept rights and needs of fellow students with disabilities, as well as to interact with them.
Materials and Methods. The authors provide a review of Russian and international literature on the priority of social inclusion for people with disabilities (V.N. Myasishchev, D. Thompson, K.R. Fisher, M. Biggeri, etc.) In order to reveal the attitudes of undergraduates majoring in different branches of science (Engineering, Psychology, Education, Law, Physical Education and Sports) to fellow students with disabilities the authors used the ‘Unfinished sentences’ inventory (adapted by I.A. Mikhalenkova and I.E. Rostomashvilli). The sample consisted of 370 students aged between 18 and 50 from 9 universities of the Russian Federation.
Results. The study has revealed the peculiarities of developing attitudes towards fellow students with disabilities among undergraduates majoring in different branches of science, summarized the findings about the attitudes towards students with disabilities in the inclusive educational environment of higher educational institutions. The authors explained and clarified the concept of ‘attitude’ as a complex psychological phenomenon comprising cognitive, emotional and moral and ethical components. It is emphasized that students majoring in Education and Psychology are more tolerant, responsive and empathic to fellow students with disabilities than students doing degrees in Economics. According to the research findings, undergraduates’ attitudes towards fellow students with disabilities are determined by their moral and ethical values. It has been found that young adults who choose universities of a humanitarian orientation have a more mature value system. The authors have distinguished three types of attitudes to people with disabilities. The study has shown that undergraduates majoring in different branches of science are tolerant to the inclusion of students with disabilities in degree programmes. Most of them are ready to help, however, they try to avoid making disabled friends.
Conclusions. The article concludes that the differentiated approach to creating an accessible socio-psychological inclusive learning environment, taking into account the attitudes of fellow students, is a leading factor in designing an accessible environment for inclusive education of university students majoring in different branches of science.


Design of an accessible learning environment; Socio-psychological learning environment; Inclusive education; Tolerance; Moral and ethical components of attitudes; Experimental projective situations; Empathy; Awareness of people with disabilities (PWD); Taking into account fellow students’ attitudes; Attitude towards students with disabilities

For citation:
Mikhalenkova I. A., Rostomashvili I. E., Shumova Y. V., Shumov A. V., Izmailova L. S. Attitudes of undergraduates majoring in different branches of science towards fellow students with disabilities: A comparative analysis. Science for Education Today, 2021, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 7–30. DOI:
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Date of the publication 28.02.2021