Purpose ? The purpose of this paper is to analyse the reflective journals kept by 62 students researching and interviewing people with learning disabilities. The aim was to explore the content and discover any themes that were generated throughout the journals as a result of the pre-, during- and post-interview process. Design/methodology/approach ? The method used to analyse the journals was Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith and Osborn, 2008). Findings ? The results showed that there was a shift from negative to positive reflections as the frequency of contact with people with learning disabilities increased and that the majority of students reported a change in attitude towards this group of individuals after experiencing direct contact (two to three meetings over a period of two months). Research limitations/implications ? Implications of the findings are for government policies, promoting social inclusion through education, to offer the opportunity for direct contact with people with learning disabilities, (in keeping with Allport's, 1954 Contact Theory) at an earlier stage in education, fostering an environment for earlier attitude change and increased social inclusion. Social implications ? Changing society's attitude through our education system may decrease marginalisation by the public as well as discriminatory and abusive behaviour found in some social and community care settings. Originality/value ? This piece of research may add value to social, government and educational policies. Finding an evidence base to continue to build policies for decreasing marginalisation and promoting social inclusion for people with learning disabilities.
- Research, Attitude, Disability, Student, Reflective, Intellectual