Date of Conferral







Phyllis LeDosquet


AbstractIn the United States, students with disabilities are protected by federal and state law, with rigorous learning standards mandated for all students. Research on the education of students with severe disabilities has focused on students on the upper end of the severe disability spectrum, but few studies in the United States have addressed the education of students with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD). This qualitive, exploratory multiple case study focused on how teachers are providing appropriate and meaningful education to students with PIMD. Theoretical foundations were based on the work of Dewey and Vygotsky, who argued that appropriate education includes elements of communication, self-actualization, and social justice, as well as Nakken and Vlaskamp, who argued for an international understanding of the characteristics of individuals with PIMD. The conceptual framework was developed in response to issues of student identification, ethical practices, and legal mandates. Data were collected from interviews with four teachers from the Midwestern United States who teach students with PIMD, and examination of formal educational documents. Data were analyzed using hand coding to identify categories and themes. The resulting themes included a lack of teacher preparation and access to guidance for teaching students with PIMD, as well as the importance of meaningful relationships and activities for these students. Analysis indicated a mismatch between the characteristics of students with PIMD and current educational standards and expectations. Findings may provide special education teachers with insights that promote a broader vision of meaningful education as they recognize, dignify, and respond to the unique educational needs of students with PIMD.