Date of Publication

4-9-2017

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Health Science

First Advisor

Dr. Christian Wilkens, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Education and Human Development

Abstract

The use of technology in the classroom may affect the development of social skills among students – especially those on the autism spectrum, for whom social skills development is a priority. This study reports observational data from six students with and without autism, and interview data from two teachers, in grades k-2 rural New York public schools. Findings include: 1. Students with and without autism demonstrated similar levels of classroom technology use; 2. Technology use was correlated negatively with social interactions; students with autism using classroom technology interacted with others 5.7% of class time, compared to a social interaction rate of 43.5% when not using technology; 3. A similar pattern held for students without autism, with 16.6% of the time on the technology involved interacting with others and 53.3% of the time not on the technology involved interacting with others. Pros and cons of technology use in the classroom for students with autism are discussed, and future directions for research are suggested.

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