Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology


School Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (xii, 156 pages) : illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kevin P. Quinn

Committee Members

Deborah K. Kundert, Callen E. Kostelnik


Bullying, School Climate, Special Education, Students with Disabilities, Bullying in schools, Cyberbullying, Victims of bullying, School environment, Students with disabilities

Subject Categories

Educational Psychology | Special Education and Teaching


Students with disabilities are a diverse group of individuals who may experience the world in ways that are distinct from typical peers. Extant research suggests that these students are at risk for academic, social, and emotional challenges. Given the amount of time that students spend in school, their perceptions of the school climate and experiences with bullying have the potential to significantly impact their well-being academically, socially, and emotionally. While there is expansive literature related to school climate and bullying, few studies have investigated these topics simultaneously and specifically through the lens of students with disabilities. This was an archival study that examined self-reported perception of school climate and experiences related to bullying for students with disabilities compared to typical peers. Additional analysis revealed a significant relationship between school climate and academic achievement for all students. Using a sample of 205 students with disabilities and 205 students without disabilities, multiple statistical methods were employed to answer research questions. The findings of this investigation illuminate the differences in perceptions of school climate among students with disabilities compared to typical peers. Specifically, classified students rated the climate to be lower overall, and lower for four of the five school climate constructs derived from the instrument. Consistent with earlier research, school climate was found to be associated with achievement measured by grade point average (GPA); students who reported more favorable perceptions of their school also earned higher grades. Contrary to expectations, students with disabilities did not report significantly higher rates of bullying experiences compared to typical peers. Within the group of students with disabilities, however, gender differences were noted. While boys were more likely to report bullying others at school, girls reported higher rates of experiencing and witnessing bullying online. This study advanced our understanding students with disabilities by providing some insight into their perception of the school climate and bullying based on self-reported experiences. Furthermore, the results highlight the need for school professionals to modify interventions targeted at school climate and bullying in ways that will support these students.