Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Department

Education Specialties

First Advisor

Rosalba Del Vecchio

Second Advisor

Rene Parmar

Third Advisor

Philip A Composto

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of general education and special education teachers of kindergarten to second grade toward students with disabilities within their classes in 35 elementary schools in one New York City public school district.

The instrument used was the Attitudes Towards Teaching All Students (ATTAS-mm) survey, which incorporated questions on teachers’ attitudes toward students with disabilities as well as the number of years of teaching experience, special education experience, and the amount of participation in special education coursework to determine influence on teacher attitude.

The data were analyzed using one-way and two-way ANOVAs to determine the differences of attitudes of the teachers toward students with special needs in their classrooms, and whether teaching experience, special education experience, and/or the amount of professional development had a positive impact on the attitude of the teachers.

The results of this study revealed differences in general education and special education teacher attitude toward students with disabilities. In the Affective domain and the Behavioral domain, correlations were statistically significant. The analysis also revealed the unexpected finding that relationships in the Cognitive dimension were not significant.

Results of this study can be used in teacher preparation programs for early childhood teachers and in professional learning opportunities for schools and school districts. Specifically, teachers must be prepared to teach students with special needs. According to Avalos (2011), professional learning for teachers is strongly recommended. Schools can facilitate the process, which is strengthened through experiences such as courses and educational learning opportunities.

This study demonstrated the number of special education courses, and special education experience had a positive relationship to the attitudes of teachers. The negative, but statistically significant relationship between teaching experience and attitude demonstrated the need for hands-on teaching experiences. College teacher education programs should include additional courses that contain strategies to teach students with special needs and also include student teaching in special education settings for all teachers, not just special education teachers.

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