Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Lynne Chalmers


This study explored the perspectives and practices of six secondary special education teachers regarding role conflicts within their profession. Ideally, special education teachers are expected to work with students with disabilities in ways that promote the students' progress on individual learning goals as stated in their IEPs. In reality, special education teachers often spend the time set aside for working on IEP goals assisting the students with homework and tests that will allow the students to "pass" their required classes. Thus, students' IEP goals are often neglected. Three overarching assertions emerged from the data. The first assertion was providing support and building positive relationships with students are critical to special education teachers' ability to maximize student success. Next, secondary special education teachers believe the use of research-based strategies is effective and important. Teacher-developed strategies, which either come with special education training and/or come instinctively, must be implemented as well. Finally, in order to pass classes and make progress towards IEP goals, a special education teacher must maintain a balance. Recommendations for teacher preparation programs, secondary schools, and future research were presented.