Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Margaret Zidon


The purpose of this explanatory sequential mixed methods study was to examine novice elementary teachers' perceptions of preparedness and competence for teaching in inclusive classrooms in relation to experiences during undergraduate teacher preparation. Factors that correlate with, identify differences between, or predict perceptions of preparation and competence for teaching in inclusive classrooms were examined. A pragmatic framework guided this study.

The responses from eighty-four novice teachers from the state of Minnesota were utilized during the quantitative phase of the study. During this phase participants completed an online survey containing items related to Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice, Inclusive Beliefs, Preparation for Inclusion, Inclusive Classroom Management and Instructional Practices, Competence for Teaching in Inclusive Classrooms, and Components of Inclusive Education identified as important within the literature. Demographic information was also collected. After initial quantitative analysis, qualitative data was collected through in-depth interviews with five novice teachers who completed the online survey.

Quantitative results indicated that coverage of the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice significantly correlated with higher perceptions of preparation and competence for teaching in inclusive classrooms. Hierarchical multiple regression models for both preparation and competence for teaching in inclusive classrooms also produced significant results. The qualitative data enabled the researcher to identify specific experiences or components related to the significant predictor variables that help to better explain varying levels of perceptions of preparation or competence for teaching in inclusive classrooms. The qualitative results further revealed that novice teachers feel more coursework, more experiences, and more authenticity related to special education, students with disabilities, and inclusive education during teacher preparation would have more fully prepared them for the challenges of teaching all levels of learners in their classrooms. Recommendations for teacher education faculty are provided that mirror the suggestions of the novice teachers.