Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Nicolae Nistor


Over recent decades, a challenge faced in public schools in the United States is the appropriate education of students with disabilities (SWDs) in inclusive classrooms. The problem this study addressed is that, despite the implementation of inclusive practices, SWDs in a small rural school district in Virginia have low achievement rates. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to examine general education teachers’ self-efficacy perceptions, exploring the relationship between lived experiences with SWDs and their professional practices. The conceptual framework for this study was built upon Bandura’s self-efficacy and social cognitive theories. The research questions centered on how the experiences of general education teachers of SWDs shape their perceptions of self-efficacy toward inclusive teaching and their professional development needs. Open-ended interview questions were created to gather data from purposefully selected eight middle school teachers who teach SWDs in inclusive classrooms. The interview recordings were transcribed, analyzed, and coded for themes that aligned to address each research question. The key findings included teachers’ beliefs that with professional development support, they could help increase SWDs’ achievement. Based on the findings, a professional development series was designed to provide strategies to meet the needs of SWDs. The potential for positive social change includes improved specific inclusion-based professional development for all inclusion teachers which may increase the likelihood of higher self-efficacy perceptions for teachers and higher academic achievement for SWDs.