Today’s special educators must be well prepared to provide evidence-based instruction to students with complex learning needs in an era of ever-changing demands that include increasing accountability mandates, new knowledge of evidence-based practices, and enduring social concerns. Although the professional literature has focused on the preparation of special education teachers, little has been written about the professionals who prepare them. Specifically, limited literature is available about skills and competencies effective teacher educators need and the best ways in which to prepare them.
This study utilized a mixed method design to explore both the skills of effective special education teacher educators and the ways in which doctoral special education programs address the preparation process. The qualitative phase of the study entailed semi-structured interviews with experts in the field of doctoral preparation of special and general education teacher educators. The quantitative phase involved an analysis of survey data related to teacher education content within special education doctoral programs.
Interviews with teacher education experts revealed two main themes related to knowledge of effective teacher educators and doctoral experiences that promote effective preparation. The first theme, knowledge and skills of effective teacher educators, was subdivided into four interwoven subthemes that included (a) possessing teacher educator knowledge (e.g., academic content, instructional pedagogy, adult learning knowledge), (b) understanding of how special education fits within the greater context of P-12 instruction, (c) understanding the importance of general education and special education collaboration both within P-12 settings and in teacher education programs, and (d) maintaining a professional disposition that includes a strong service orientation. The second theme, scaffolded work of teacher educators, included two subthemes related to opportunities to participate in: (a) ongoing work related to P-12 practices and school structures (e.g., program evaluation and mentoring and induction of novice teachers), and (b) faculty work experiences (e.g., college teaching and practicum supervision). Interviewees also identified several barriers to effective special education teacher educator preparation. These included doctoral student recruitment, knowledge and skills assessment of teacher educators, and institutional barriers that limit special education and general education collaboration.
Survey data from doctoral preparation programs (N=42) suggest that most programs provide numerous opportunities for students to participate in coursework related to teacher education, college teaching, practicum supervision, and P-12 experiences. Additionally, although most programs offer teacher education doctoral experiences, 20 doctoral programs offer teacher education as a specific area of emphasis. Several discrepancies emerged between the interview and survey results, including the limited emphasis on content-area expertise in doctoral education and levels of ongoing collaboration between general and special education programs.
|Commitee:||Frey, Bruce, Griswold, Deb, Knowlton, Earle, Meyen, Ed|
|School:||University of Kansas|
|School Location:||United States -- Kansas|
|Source:||DAI-A 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Special education, Teacher education, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Doctoral preparation, Special education, Teacher education, Teacher educators|
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