Title

Factors Influencing the Retention of Special Education Teachers of Students with ASD

Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Arcella Trimble

Abstract

Shortages in the teaching field are greatest among special education teachers. This may be due to recent regulations and an increase in the number of students diagnosed with disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of administrative support, stress, and self-efficacy on special education teachers' intent to remain in the profession and to determine whether special education teachers of students with ASD experience the same retention obstacles that other special education teachers do. The conceptual framework for the study was social cognitive theory, which states that people are proactively involved in their life choices and make conscious decisions based on external environmental factors, internal personal factors, and their behaviors. In the Northeastern United States, 128 elementary, middle, and high school special education teachers, of which 60 work with students with ASD, completed an adaptation of the survey, Teacher Efficacy Belief System-Self. Four research questions examined the relationships among administrative support, stress, self-efficacy, and intent to remain in the teaching profession. Their answers were analyzed using Pearson product moment correlation, ordinal logistic regression, and 1-way ANOVA. Results indicated that special education teachers for students with ASD experienced a higher level of stress, which, in turn, was negatively correlated with intent to remain in the teaching field and administrative support. This study is expected to contribute to positive social change by highlighting the interplay among administrative support, self-efficacy, and stress; it could also inform the development of effective plans to support new teachers and increase their intent to remain in the field.

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