A Comparison of Social Interactions for Students with Learning Differences During a Structured Versus Unstructured Activity Times

This study analyzes how Students with Learning Differences (SLD) socially interact with each other during structured activity times (e.g., classroom discussion and teacher-facilitated) and if these interactions generalize to unstructured activity times (e.g., lunch, break, before and/or after school). Research shows that SLD do not have many opportunities to interact with peers during the school day in a structured setting, which leads to social difficulties in an unstructured setting. Lacking social skills will have long-term effects in their post-secondary careers. Ten students, grades 7th through 12th, were randomly selected to be observed in both structured and unstructured settings at one non-public school that serves students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. Based on these findings, it is recommended that schools should continue to provide opportunities for SLD to interact with peers and develop the social skills necessary for these interactions to occur.