Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Myrna R. Olson

Abstract

The purpose of the qualitative research study was to explore the perceptions and experiences of teachers of students with visual impairments (TSVIs) in the state of North Dakota regarding the expanded core curriculum (ECC). This study included transcribed interviews from six TSVIs who taught in grades K-12.

The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities was used to frame this study. Phenomenological methods were used to analyze the interviews into codes, categories, themes, and an assertion. Following were the seven themes supported by the data collected:

1. Teachers of students with visual impairments (TSVIs) reported that the responsibility of educating students with visual impairments is “huge”; therefore, it takes a village (i.e., North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind [NDVS/SB] professionals, teams, and others) to ensure the unique needs of students with visual impairments are met.

2. TSVIs emphasized the importance of systematic and purposeful instruction, and ongoing and systematic checks for understanding.

3. TSVIs perceived instructors at the NDVS/SB as experts in teaching the expanded core curriculum.

4. TSVIs perceived they were primarily responsible for teaching compensatory skills and use of assistive technology.

5. TSVIs perceived the parents of students with visual impairments and the NDVS/SB were primarily responsible for teaching independent living skills of the expanded core curriculum (ECC).

6. TSVIs perceived academic curriculum takes precedence over the expanded core curriculum.

7. Limited time and limited access prohibit TSVIs from providing consistent, and systematic, instruction of the expanded core curriculum within their respective school districts.

These seven themes converged into the following assertion: Educating students with visual impairments in the state of North Dakota requires an integrative approach in which academic curriculum and expanded core curriculum are addressed through collaborative efforts among all stakeholders and service providers.

In summary, educating students with visual impairments is an enormous task that no one person can accomplish alone. It behooves stakeholders, associated with vision impairments, to work together to create models for teaching the expanded core curriculum that ensure equity of services throughout the state.

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