Date of Conferral

2008

Date of Award

2009

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Kimberly Barnes

Abstract

This study addressed the problem of students with autism being placed in regular education classrooms and the lack of support of regular educators toward this practice. This research study was based upon the theoretical construct of attitude. Attitude is an important concept related to inclusion as teacher expectations and attitude affect student performance. This research study examined teacher attitude toward inclusion of students with autism based upon years of teaching experience, current teaching placement, gender, previous experience with inclusion, and amount of training regarding autism. The study sample consisted of 178 regular educators selected by cluster and random sampling within Pennsylvania. Data collection was conducted by the administration of a survey containing 22 items requiring a Likert Scale response and 5 items regarding demographic information. The survey data was analyzed by descriptive analysis, and inferential analysis consisting of univariate analysis of variance, independent t-tests, and regression analysis, in order to determine the relationship between years of teaching experience, current grade level teaching assignment, previous experience with inclusion, gender, and previous training on teacher attitude. As indicated by the results, a greater amount of training regarding autism positively impacted teacher attitude toward inclusion for students with autism and increasing years of experience negatively impacted teacher attitude toward inclusion. This research study contributes to social justice by highlighting the nationwide impact autism has on teachers. The results of this research study can be utilized by school administrators to create professional development programs to improve teacher attitude toward inclusion.

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