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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Collective Case Study: Special Education Teacher Perceptions of Students with Autism and Emotional Disturbance
by Kelly-Massoud, Adelaide, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2020, 302; 27664373
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study is to explore the perceptions of teachers’ experiences as they work with students who have the label of autism and ED in the same self-contained classroom. For this study, three main theoretical perspectives guided the researcher’s approach to understanding participant perceptions. This study used social constructivism, self-efficacy, and attribution theory to explore special education teachers’ perceptions.

Study design included semi-structured interviews, multiple observations, and examination of artifacts of four participants working within self-contained classrooms. Both within case analysis and cross-case analysis was utilized to examine perceptions and attributions. These methods gave a voice to study participants by illustrating how they made meaning of teaching their students. Portraiture, as a tool, presented rich and thick descriptions of the participants as well as methodological approach for data collection.

This study revealed obvious distinctions in how participants perceived causes of behavior, how participants described behaviors, and how they responded to student behaviors. Findings suggest participants attribute external factors to negative behaviors displayed by students with a label of ED. Findings suggest participants attribute the same negative behaviors to internal facts for students with a label of autism. Responses were driven by participants understanding of disability. Participant responses suggested participants used their perceptions of what external factors caused behaviors to rationalize negative student behaviors and used the same external factors to drive a therapeutic lens to address and move past these behaviors for students with labels of ED. Participants response to behaviors for students with autism were not attributed to external factors. Individual portraits highlighted how participants expressed student behaviors differently for students with an ED label in comparison to an autism label.

There is little research on the experience of teachers who work with students with an ED label and autistic label in the same classroom. This research provided unique insight on how participants perceive these students and how they attribute aggressive behaviors to these disability categories. This study serves as a platform for future research exploring teacher perceptions of students with labels of ED and autism and how to support them in the classroom.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rice, Elisabeth K.
Commitee: Gresham, Doran V., Wallace, Gregory L.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Special Education
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 81/6(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Special education, Disability studies
Keywords: Attribution theory, Autism, Case study, Emotional and behavioral disorders, Emotional disturbance, Self-efficacy
Publication Number: 27664373
ISBN: 9781392533413
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