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Special Education Research Guide: Introduction

Resources and research tips for undergraduate and graduate education students. Note: This LibGuide was originally created by Kimberley Stephenson.



Special education comprises "programs and services for students who deviate physically, mentally, or emotionally from the norm to an extent that they require unique learning experiences, techniques or materials in order to be maintained in the general education classroom" (Vergason and Anderegg, Dictionary of Special Education and Rehabilitation, p. 150). This definition can be applied to both disabled and gifted students, although most special education research focuses on students with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities.

The special education movement began to spread with the social reforms of the 19th century, including the expansion of compulsory free public education. However, most modern research in the field dates from the late 20th century, thanks to increased parental activism and the passage of several key laws mandating equitable funding and access to public education (see Public Laws 94-142 and 101-476). Prominent scholars in the field of multicultural education include James E. Ysseldyke, James M. Kauffman, Daniel P. Hallahan, Alan S. Kaufman, and Nadeen L. Kaufman.

For more information about special education, see "Questions Often Asked by Parents About Special Education Services," published by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.