Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




J. D. Jones


As a result of U.S. federal policy directives mandating inclusion, general education teachers in a rural elementary school in southern Maine were expected to be effective in working in inclusive classrooms with learners with diverse needs; however, teachers were meeting the mandates for inclusion but their students were not meeting the state's annual progress targets. The purpose of this project study was to explore teachers' perceptions of their readiness and needs for professional learning to work with diverse learners in the inclusive classroom. The research questions centered on teachers' beliefs, specific to their preparation and their needs and preferred mode for professional learning. The theoretical framework for this project research consisted of sociocultural and transformative learning theories. A qualitative case study approach was used in which teachers at the school completed online surveys and follow-up e-mail interviews. Twenty-seven of the school's 44 teachers participated in the study. Survey and interview responses were reviewed on a continuous basis during data collection and coded for emergent themes; open-ended data were analyzed using qualitative data analysis software. The key findings were that none of the participants believed they were unprepared for teaching in the inclusive classroom; however, the teachers provided key insights for professional learning related to the challenge of teaching diverse learners. The results of the study might offer guidance to school and district administrators on how to build the capacity of teachers to create classrooms where all learners can succeed and to reduce reliance on separate special instruction. Doing so could help promote social change in the culture of the school by encouraging respect and empathy among students to work together and celebrate their collective successes.

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