Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 307–323 | Cite as

College Students’ Evaluations and Reasoning About Exclusion of Students with Autism and Learning Disability: Context and Goals may Matter More than Contact

  • Kristen Bottema-BeutelEmail author
  • So Yoon Kim
  • David B. Miele
Original Paper


This study used mixed-effects logistic regression to examine undergraduates’ (N = 142) evaluations and reasoning about scenarios involving disability-based exclusion. Scenarios varied by disability [autism spectrum disorder (ASD) versus learning disability (LD)], the context of exclusion (classroom versus social), and whether or not a grade was at stake. Participants were more likely to determine exclusion was acceptable if the excluded student had an ASD diagnosis, there was a grade at stake, and it occurred in a classroom. Exclusion was less likely to be considered acceptable in the “no grade” compared to the “grade” conditions for LD students, but remained high in both conditions for autistic students. This study also describes contextual variations in participants’ justifications for their evaluations.


Moral reasoning Disability Exclusion Autism spectrum disorder Learning disability Social domain theory 



We would like to thank Shannon Crowley, Josephine Cuda, Declan Foley, Jessica Barnes, Ashley Antwi, and Alexandra Sullivan for their assistance in conducting this research. We would also like to thank the many participants who agreed to be interviewed.

Author Contributions

KBB participated in the study design, supervised data collection and statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. SYK coordinated recruitment and data collection, conducted participant interviews, and participated in drafting and editing the manuscript. DM participated in the study design and statistical analysis, and edited the manuscript.


This study was funded by the Argyelan Family Foundation Fund administered by the Lynch School of Education, Boston College, and the Buehler Sesquicentennial Fund of Boston College. We would like to thank Shannon Crowley, Josephine Cuda, Declan Foley, Jessica Barnes, Ashley Antwi, and Alexandra Sullivan for their assistance in conducting this research. We would also like to thank the many participants who agreed to be interviewed.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10803_2018_3769_MOESM1_ESM.docx (26 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 25 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teacher Education, Special Education, and Curriculum & Instruction, Lynch School of EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology Department, Lynch School of EducationBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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