Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)

Program

Educational Leadership

Date of Award

12-2004

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Nancy Dishner

Committee Members

Louise L. MacKay, Martha Coutinho, Russell F. West

Abstract

The history of incorporating students with disabilities in the general education classroom is driven by parents and advocates of children with disabilities. The push has been to educate all children in the least restrictive environment (LRE), changing the role of general education teacher from a subject matter specialist to include the responsibility of educating students with a wide range of special needs. While most agree that educating children with disabilities in the general education classroom alongside their non-disabled peers is better than excluding them from academic and social opportunities, general educators have been a noticeably absent voice in regards to these changes. The purpose of this qualitative study was to give general educators the opportunity to provide this missing voice.

In order to collect data for this phenomenological study, open-ended interviews were conducted with 22 teachers in Northeast Tennessee. The subjects were purposefully sampled to gain maximum variation in terms of school setting, years of experience, and subject matter taught. Using constant comparative analysis, incidents were classified into teacher perceptions regarding incorporating students with disabilities in their classroom, the efficacy of this practice, and facilitators and barriers to this practice. Within each of these categories, sub-categories emerged.

The data collected in this study supported the notion that general educators were excluded from the decision making process in regards to special education, and that they viewed the rules and regulations as mandates handed to them by superiors as opposed to joint decisions made in the best interest of their students. Respondents also voiced their opinions regarding the efficacy of incorporating students with disabilities in the general education classroom, as well as facilitators and barriers to success with the practice.

This study is important to parents, teachers, and administrators who are interested in a better understanding of the phenomenon of incorporating students with disabilities in the general education classroom from a general education teacher's perspective. It also serves to provide the missing voice of the general educator in regards to this topic.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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