Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Sherry Mee Bell

Committee Members

David F. Cihak, Mari Beth Coleman, Sherry K. Bain

Abstract

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004) requires students with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). As students with disabilities are educated alongside their non-disabled peers, there are increased demands placed on general education teachers. Because of the shift in educational responsibilities, it is important for preservice teachers to acquire the knowledge, dispositions and instructional strategies necessary to succeed in educating students with disabilities before they enter the classroom. The purpose of this study was to examine whether preservice teachers’ knowledge, attitudes and perceived abilities (sense of efficacy) toward teaching students with disabilities would be influenced by: 1) being enrolled in a one-semester special education introductory course, 2) being randomly assigned by course section to watch a co-teaching video or in vivo observation, and 3) demographic variables.

One hundred and fifty-three general and special education preservice teachers enrolled in an introductory special education course at a large southeastern university participated in a pre-and post-survey. Students were randomly assigned by course sections to observe a one-hour video about co-teaching or observe co-teaching in vivo for one hour to determine if there were differential effects in the knowledge, attitudes, and perceived abilities toward educating students with disabilities by the end of the one-semester course. Participants responded to a pre-and post-survey instrument that incorporated demographic information, knowledge questions (i.e., law, disability characteristics, and teaching strategies), an Attitudes Questionnaire (AQ), the Preservice Inclusion Survey (PSIS), and the short version of the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES).

The data were analyzed using SPSS. Pre-and post-survey results suggested a significant difference in the knowledge, attitudes and perceived abilities (sense of efficacy) of preservice teachers enrolled in the one-semester special education course. Significant differences were found in dependent variables based on the two observation conditions. Additionally, significant differences between primary/elementary and secondary preservice teachers on the post-survey attitudes (AQ) and sense of efficacy scales (TSES) were found. Correlational analyses also were conducted resulting in positive correlations between dependent variables and demographics. Lastly, multiple regression analyses of post-survey responses indicated attitudes predicted sense of efficacy in educating students with disabilities.

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