Title

Student Teaching From a Unique Perspective: Portraits of Three Student Teachers with Learning Disabilities

Date of Award

5-1-1997

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education, Health & Behavior Studies

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of student teachers with learning disabilities to ascertain if they felt an effect of that disability on their teaching performance. Three student teachers with documented learning disabilities were studied for the duration of a one-semester teaching assignment. The participants, one male and two females, were from different state universities within a two-state region. A profile of each participant was developed from the data and included: descriptive background information; experiences through elementary and secondary school years, college years, and student teaching; and their future plans.

Qualitative research methodology was used in this study. The data was collected through recorded oral narratives given by the participants through numerous interviews and reflective “talking diaries” and interviews with cooperating teachers and directors of student teaching. Seven themes emerged as a result of the study. The three student teachers (a) perceived a stigma attached to their label of learning disabilities and were not willing to disclose that disability to their cooperating teachers, (b) believed that their learning disabilities affected their feelings of confidence and self-worth and used extracurriculars to bolster their confidence, (c) exercised extreme caution when describing any links between their learning disabilities and their teaching performance, (d) experienced considerable anxiety at the beginning and end of their teaching assignments, (e) expressed empathy and compassion for their students who demonstrated difficulty in learning, (f) exhibited high self-expectation and aspiration by pursuing rigorous programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and (g) acknowledged the importance of their supportive families (with one or more parents as public school teachers).

The study revealed a need for further research in the areas of instructor accountability in accommodating students with learning disabilities, teacher preparation program policy regarding education students with learning disabilities, and the need for longitudinal studies involving student teachers with learning disabilities.

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