Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

Ann Cranston-Gingras

Co-Major Professor

Patricia J. Kleinhammer-Tramill

Keywords

Dispositions, Identity, Learning Experiences, Pattern Matching, Teacher Preparation

Abstract

Utilizing a case study approach, this study explored the perspectives of preservice teachers as they relate to working with students with disabilities in inclusive classroom settings. Preservice teachers' perceptions about the extent, if any, their learning experiences during teacher preparation contributed to their perspectives was examined through a sequential exploratory design that employed both quantitative and qualitative data. The findings of this case study of six (6) elementary and secondary preservice teachers indicated that the experiences they had during their final student teaching (internship) were the most meaningful triggers of their perspective transformations. The findings further indicated that four (4) of the six (6) preservice teachers who identified they had a positive perspective toward including students with disabilities in their classrooms experienced a change in the directionality of that perspective to a less positive perspective following their final student teaching experience (internship). The use of the case study method, with its reliance on theoretical propositions and multiple sources of evidence, offered an effective way to better understand the perceived change in perspectives of these preservice teachers. The use of the Learning Activities Survey (LAS) to first ascertain whether or not preservice teachers perceived they had a perspective transformation offered a strong starting point to begin this investigation. When combined with additional qualitative data in the form of semi-structured interviews and document analysis, the structure of Yin's case study approach provided strong evidence supporting the nature and extent of preservice teachers' perspective transformations toward including students with disabilities. Implications of this study include recommendations for designing meaningful learning experiences for preservice teachers, a call for action research within teacher education, and purposeful provision of support and relationship building that goes beyond the acquisition of knowledge and skills and facilitates transformative learning.

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