CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

College of Engineering and Computing

Advisor

Laurie P. Dringus

Committee Member

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Michael Sharpe

Abstract

Despite the rapid proliferation of assistive technology implementation, studies have revealed that a number of professionals that provide assistive technology services do not have adequate competencies to recommend and deliver assistive technologies in school settings. The purpose of the study was to examine the competencies of assistive technology specialists in Florida K-12 public schools, and identify training opportunities that may have helped them achieve professional competence in the evaluation and provision of assistive technology devices and services across AT service providers from different preparations.

The study applied quantitative and qualitative methods to determine answers to the following six research questions: (1) to what extent does the perceived level of AT knowledge differ among AT specialists from different occupations in the Florida public school setting, (2) to what extent does the perceived level of AT skills differ among AT specialists from different occupations in the Florida public school setting, (3) what are the AT specialists’ perceptions about their AT knowledge and skill levels, (4) what common competency sets are needed for the AT specialist, regardless of their occupational role, (5) what are the training opportunities among AT specialists from different occupations in the Florida public schools setting, and (6) what type of training opportunities are essential among AT specialists from different occupations in the Florida school setting.

In order to gather data of breadth and depth, the researcher disseminated an online survey, which 39 AT providers from the five Florida school regions completed. Interviews were conducted with seven of the survey respondents to triangulate interview data with the survey data. Results suggested that assistive technology specialists possess different levels of assistive technology knowledge and skills. Assistive technology specialists from different professional backgrounds and years of experience identified a lack of competence in several areas where they currently provide AT services. Assistive technology specialists should seek continuous in-service training to increase their assistive technology knowledge in the evaluation and recommendation of AT equipment and services for students with special needs in schools. This training is vital to meet their students’ assistive technology needs and legislation requirements for assistive technology services for students with disabilities. Recommendations for the improvement of assistive technology professional practice in schools are included in the study.