Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

MA Special Education


Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education


College of Education

First Advisor

Kuder, Sydney J.

Second Advisor

Xin, Joy


connectedness, belonging, engagement, middle school


Social skills--Study and teaching; Inclusive education


Special Education and Teaching


This study examined the effects of implementing the Developmental Designs for Middle School (DDMS) program on the school connectedness of students with and without special needs in a seventh grade inclusion class in a middle school in a suburban community in southern New Jersey. Of the 23 participants in the study, 10 were students with special needs who were eligible for special education services and had individual education plans (IEPs). Of those 10 students, four qualified for IEPs under Other Health Impaired, four qualified under Multiply Disabled, and two qualified under Specific Learning Disability. The other thirteen students were general education students.

The findings of this study indicate that the implementation of the Developmental Designs for Middle School program in 7th grade classrooms may increase feelings of connectedness and perceived belongingness for general education students as well as students with disabilities. DDMS strategies within the classroom, as well as the advisory meetings, is a program that should be further studied and looked in to as a resource for increasing school connectedness for middle school students.