Capstone/Dissertation Title

Going Beyond Expectations: Special Education Teachers' Experiences with Student-Centered Instruction

Term

Fall 12-8-2014

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAT

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Kathryn Campbell

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Lucille DeCoux

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Kelsey Holder

Abstract

The research question addressed in this project is: What supports do special education teachers need to teach children with mild-to-moderate disabilities in a student-centered (and socially just) manner, and thus to lead those students to become active constructors of their own knowledge? The study was motivated by a lack of qualitative studies involving special education classrooms in the research on student-centered pedagogy. Thus, special educators teaching in a wide variety of teaching settings are interviewed about their experiences implementing authentic and student-centered learning in their classrooms in order to find ways that teachers have productively dealt with the challenge of helping students with disabilities to develop critical and creative thinking skills. Through these interviews, the researcher finds that the special educators interviewed are successful and proactive in implementing student-centered learning techniques in their classrooms, in spite of facing the challenges of initial student resistance, changing schoolwide initiatives, and time constraints.

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