Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Advisor

Ami McNally

Committee Member

Sidi Lakhdar

Abstract

The aim of this applied dissertation was to examine changes in the self-efficacy of preservice teachers on completion of a special needs course and to determine whether there is a correlation between self-efficacy and several demographic variables. Studies conducted in several countries revealed that, despite participation in a special needs course, preservice teachers often expressed low levels of confidence for the inclusion of students with special needs in their general education classrooms. Because there is not much research in the Caribbean on this subject, this study sought to further explore this issue within a different cultural context. The case study, which employed an explanatory mixed-methods design, was conducted at a teachers’ college in western Jamaica. The sample of 55 preservice teachers was selected through convenience sampling. The self-efficacy of participants was measured at the beginning and ending of a special needs course using the Teacher Efficacy for Inclusive Practices scale. At the end of the course, selected participants were interviewed using focus-group discussions that yielded qualitative data. Quantitative data were analyzed using inferential and descriptive statistics to determine changes in self-efficacy and to examine the relationship of several demographic variables to self-efficacy trends. Qualitative data were coded and analyzed for themes and provided an explanation of the quantitative data. The results indicated that preservice teachers’ self-efficacy increased upon completion of a special needs course. When the self-efficacy of males and females was compared, no significant differences were found. Participants who had previous training in special needs education, as well as participants who had considerable interactions with persons with disabilities, had higher self-efficacy scores. Furthermore, the self-efficacy scores of participants seemed to have been influenced significantly by increased knowledge about disabilities and inclusion following the authentic and vicarious experiences during the course.

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