The Positive Impact that Therapy Animals have on Social Emotional Behavior and Academic Success among Middle School Students in Special Education

Date of Award

Fall 12-2020

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Ximena Suarez-Sousa




Today in schools, teachers and students are attempting to discover how to successfully manage behaviors while still implementing the academic standards that are required to meet by the state. Students who were labeled as emotionally disturbed or learning disability, overall had a lower self-esteem then students who were in regular education classes (Conley, Ghavami, VonOhlen & Foulkers, 2007). During the time of the beginning of my planned study, schools were closed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Due to the school closure, my study was transformed to an auto-ethnography which is an approach to research and writing the describes and systematically analyze personal experience to understand the cultural experience of the time (Ellis, 2010).The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of animals in the classroom have on student behavior and academic success. Behaviors would have been analyzed include, emotional outburst, on-task versus off-task and overall student well-being. Academic success would have been analyzed by the proficient grades, number of missing assignments and tardiness. The study will take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Observations and input would have been taken from previous observations in the classroom. A journal was kept chronicling the experience teaching during the time of distance learning. It was analyzed for themes and several were identified. As a result of teaching during this pandemic suggestions for future educators in the same type of situation are to remain flexible, stay calm, understand that many families may not be able to communicate, communicate as often, maintain relationships with coworkers and students and lastly, be kind to yourself as it is a very challenging time.

Keywords: COVID-19

Abstract only: No full text available.