Dimensions of mastery in same-age and mixed-age integrated classrooms
This article presents the results of a study evaluating the effects of mixed-age and same-age classrooms on dimensions of mastery during play for young children developing normally and for children with disabilities. Twenty-four children were randomly assigned to same-age classrooms corresponding to each of the age groups in the study (1-year-olds, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds). Another 24 children were randomly assigned to mixed-age classrooms consisting of either 1- and 3-year-olds or 2- and 4-year-olds. In these groups, 3 of the children were younger and 3 were older. In addition, 2 children in each classroom had disabilities; 1 child was younger and 1 child was older.
Dimensions of mastery were coded during free play to reflect the sophistication of play. Play was classified as premastery (exploration), mastery (task-oriented behavior), and social mastery (social and dramatic play). Results indicated that the child's developmental maturation was related to sophistication of play mastery for children without disabilities in both classroom settings and children without disabilities in both classroom settings and children with disabilities in the mixed-age classes. In contrast, this developmental trend was not evident for children with disabilities in the same-age classroom. Finally, comparisons of social mastery suggested that children without disabilities were more likely to engage in social mastery than children with disabilities regardless of classroom condition, even after adjusting for developmental age.