Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Gerald Ubben

Committee Members

Ernest Brewer, Clara Lee Brown, Schuyler Huck

Abstract

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has created a situation in which teachers are required to educate English Language Learners (ELLs) at the same level of proficiency as native speakers. However, there is a paucity of research concerning teacher attitudes regarding ELLs, and thus, little is known about how these attitudes will impact instruction. The purpose of this study was to examine regular education teachers’ attitudes toward the inclusion of ELLs in the regular education classroom. More specifically this study sought to understand whether teacher attitudes were influenced by the specific instructional factors of support, expertise, and time.

The study was conducted in conjunction with a large, metropolitan school system in Tennessee. In the study, several schools were selected based on their ELL populations over the past three years. Teachers at these schools were invited to participate in the study, and were asked to respond to a survey instrument which was adapted from the Opinions Relative to Integration (ORI). The adapted ORI was used to quantify teacher attitudes regarding the inclusion of ELLs in regular education classrooms, and the results were subsequently used to generate an index score of teacher acceptance of ELLs in the regular education classroom. Additionally, teachers were asked to respond to a survey instrument which examined whether the teacher felt they had the necessary amounts of support, expertise, and time to teach ELLs.

The data were analyzed using a three-way ANOVA, and the results suggest that teachers’ attitudes are influenced by a scarcity of instructional factors. This paper discusses the extent to which the three specific instructional factors of support, expertise, and time influenced teacher attitudes. Additionally, the paper considers how educational leaders might use these findings to improve teacher attitudes toward ELLs.

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