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Theses Doctoral

Preparing Teachers in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Reflections on Teacher Quality

Mazin, Amanda

The number of students receiving educational services under the classification of autism is increasing (Sack-Min, 2008; Center for Disease Control Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 2007; Dymond, Gilson, Myran, 2007; Fitzgerald & Ryan, 2006). There is a need to provide better educational opportunities for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in schools. One of the clearest needs in the field is to increase the number of well-prepared professionals to work with children and their families. (Simpson, LaCava, Graner, 2004; Palmer, Blanchard, Jean & Mandell, 2005). Learners with ASD can be expected to acquire vital skills, knowledge, and behaviors only when educators are able and willing to adopt and properly use effective practice strategies and methods (Lerman, Vorndran, Addison & Contucci Kuhn, 2004). A Two-Phase Sequential Exploratory Mixed-Method design was used in this study. In the first qualitative phase, seven experts in the field of ASD and teacher education were interviewed to explore the phenomenon quality special education teachers of students with ASD, particularly the areas of knowledge, skill and characteristics. The results of this phase were used to develop a battery of measurement instruments that were used in the second, quantitative phase of the study. During the second phase, 112 special education teachers of students with ASD were surveyed, using the instruments developed in phase one, to investigate correlations and predictive relationships between the dependent variables knowledge of ASD, skill, characteristics quality, self-efficacy and the independent variables number of courses in ASD, highest degree reported, type of certification/endorsement, number of years of professional experiences working with individuals with ASD, number of years of professional experience working with individuals with disabilities, number of students with ASD worked with in professional career, number of current students with ASD, number of years since received highest degree, and self-reported effectiveness of preparation. Correlations and hierarchical regressions for all dependent variables were conducted. Results indicated the best predictors of knowledge of ASD for special education teachers of students with ASD were: number of courses in ASD; highest degree reported; number of years of professional experience working with individuals with ASD; and number of students with ASD worked with in professional career. The best predictors of skill were: number of courses in ASD; number of years of professional experience working with individuals with ASD; and self-reported effectiveness of preparation. The best predictors of self-efficacy were: number of courses in ASD and number of years of professional experience working with individuals with ASD. Lastly, the best predictors of quality special education teachers of students with ASD were determined to be the number of courses in ASD and self-reported effectiveness of preparation.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Intellectual Disabilities-Autism
Thesis Advisors
Hickson, Linda
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 17, 2012
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