Taking the "dis" out of disability: Attending to pre-service teacher dispositions related to students with special needs
This dissertation examines pre-service teachers' developing dispositions related to students with special needs and addresses their beliefs about students with disabilities through analysis of their experiences as members of the 2011-2012 cohort in the Teacher Education Program (TEP) at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (GSE). Literature related to teachers' attitudes toward inclusion, educator dispositions and identity theory provide frames for analyzing what participants say about students with special needs. The conceptual framework for this study utilizes Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Disability Theory in concert as a means of examining participants' dispositions. When combined, CRT and Disability Theory provide a useful lens for examining issues of privilege and identity; while race, class and culture are often considered by educational theorists and researchers, issues of identity and privilege as "abled" or "disabled" are rarely addressed. As such, this study offers an innovative way to frame pre-service teachers' identities and related understanding of students with special needs. This mixed methods study accounts for the varying ways pre-service teachers engage with their dispositions while enrolled in TEP. Key findings from this study reveal that (i) background knowledge provides context for participants but is not sufficient; (ii) the culture of the field placement site affects dispositional development; (iii) structured interactions with students with special needs are essential in informing dispositions; (iv) TDL enables dispositional development through an ethic of caring; and (v) TDL provides a space for teachers to engage with identity and privilege. By charting dispositional development over the course of one academic year, this research paints a vivid picture of the lived experiences of these prospective teachers, looking specifically at the spaces where they do—or do not—attend to their dispositions. On a micro-level, investigation of this cohort's beliefs and experiences will aid in the design of increasingly meaningful special education coursework and field experiences. More broadly, this dissertation addresses gaps in empirical research on teacher dispositions related to students with special needs. ^
Education, Special|Education, Teacher Training
Christa Saggiomo Bialka,
"Taking the "dis" out of disability: Attending to pre-service teacher dispositions related to students with special needs"
(January 1, 2012).
Dissertations available from ProQuest.