THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN REFERENCE GROUP ORIENTATION AND THE SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS' PREPARATION FOR AND TESTIMONY IN SPECIAL EDUCATION DUE PROCESS HEARINGS IN PENNSYLVANIA

GEORGE F. GOLDEN, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This study investigated how Pennsylvania school psychologists resolved possible conflicts that arise between the demands of the employing agency and the profession when having to testify in special education due process hearings. Though there have been investigations into how educators have responded to externally imposed legislation, there is only sparse information on the issue of school psychologists facing possible conflicting demands of law, profession and employer as they testify in due process hearings. The methodology used in this study was that of survey and interview. Psychologists who had testified in hearings in Pennsylvania during the years 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982 were surveyed to determine their reference group orientation. Respondents were divided into four ideal types and a sample was interviewed to determine if reference group orientation could serve as a valuable construct in determining psychologists' behavior as they prepared for and testified in hearings. Also considered in the interview was how psychologists responded to conflicts and anxieties around their involvement in the hearings and psychologists' perceptions of the hearings as a way of resolving differences between schools and parents. Significant findings of the study were: (A) Reference group orientation proved a valuable predictor of behavior in only the extreme professionally and organizationally oriented psychologists. (B) Psychologists tended to over-prepare for hearings. (C) None of the psychologists interviewed were asked to compromise their findings related to the hearing issues. (D) Psychologists perceived the school's attorneys as supportive, the parents' attorney as threatening. (E) The conflicts felt by the psychologists seemed idiosyncratic to the psychologist or the hearing itself. (F) Fear of the unknown and cross examination by parents' attorneys caused significant anticipatory anxiety. (G) Psychologists felt that hearings were not an effective way to resolve conflicts, and that schools tend to avoid hearings. (H) Questions arise as to psychologists' abilities to function as independent practitioners when having to testify in due process hearings as expert witnesses for their employers.

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

GOLDEN, GEORGE F., "THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN REFERENCE GROUP ORIENTATION AND THE SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS' PREPARATION FOR AND TESTIMONY IN SPECIAL EDUCATION DUE PROCESS HEARINGS IN PENNSYLVANIA" (1985). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8525663.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8525663

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