Date of Award

6-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Second Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Third Advisor

Dr. John Shinsky

Abstract

Increasing numbers of students with disabilities are being educated in inclusive settings within elementary public schools across the United States. General education teachers are being hired to fill these positions, yet the characteristics principals view as necessary for them to be effective in such classrooms had yet to be explored. This study captured data on the knowledge, skills, and experiences candidates, coming directly out of college, should and do possess in order to be effective inclusion teachers. Principals’ perspectives on inclusion, as well as possible predictors for such perspectives, were also examined.

An online survey was used to collect the perspectives of 129 elementary public school principals in one Midwest state. The findings from this study indicate that principals do not feel general education candidates are being properly prepared to teach in inclusion settings. Further, findings indicate principals felt that the actual possession of knowledge, skills, and experiences concerning special education new general educators possess was much lower than what these administrators felt candidates should possess. Inadequate experience working with special needs students was found to be the greatest factor in candidates’ unpreparedness.

Comments from principals were categorized to find common themes and used along with analysis from closed-ended question data. Principals’ own knowledge of inclusion, years of experience in K12 education, and years of experience as an administrator, were not found to be predictors of their overriding perspectives on inclusion or the traits they felt general education candidates should possess in order to be effective teachers in inclusive settings. Suggestions for Teacher Education programs and general education teacher candidates are offered.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access