Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Special Education

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas Farmer

Second Advisor

Dr. Kevin Sutherland

Third Advisor

Dr. Colleen Thoma

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Terri Sullivan


This study aimed to understand constructs related to classroom social dynamics in a sample (n = 1863) of rural middle school students. First, it used latent profile analysis to classify classrooms based on classroom norm salience. Next, the study used the Hierarchical Linear Model to study the influence of classroom norm salience on the social roles and reputations, social network centrality, bullying involvement, and school belonging of students with disabilities. There were four major findings. First, classrooms were classified into two distinct categories based on students’ social reputations, which were positively associated with peer-nominated popularity: High Aggression Norm Salience Classrooms and High Academic/Prosocial Norm Salience Classrooms. Second, there were significant differences by class type in two specific social characteristics: students with disabilities were more likely to get their way and be nominated as leaders in classrooms classified as High Aggression Norm Salience Classrooms. Third, there was no difference in either social network centrality or bullying involvement of students with disabilities by class type. Fourth, students with disabilities were more likely to feel school belonging in classrooms that were identified as High Academic/Prosocial Norm Salience Classrooms. The implications for practice and policy are discussed.


© Meera Mehtaji

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission