Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Teachers' assistants -- United States; Special education -- United States; United States; Academic theses;


The increasing number of one-on-one paraprofessionals has intensified interest in issues regarding their appropriate employment. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to determine the perceptions of a paraprofessional assigned to provide one-on-one supports for a student with special needs regarding how the need for paraprofessional assistance was determined, who participated in the selection process, necessary qualifications for employment, assigned roles and responsibilities, training opportunities, and supervision practices. Data was collected through three semi-structured interviews with a one-on-one paraprofessional. Additional themes identified through data analysis included barriers to job performance, job satisfaction, negatives of being a one-on-one paraprofessional, and advice to staff and other paraprofessionals. The data exposed some areas of concern regarding the appropriate utilization of the one-on-one paraprofessional. Data indicated the paraprofessional had primary responsibility for providing the student academic and behavioral supports. The paraprofessional engaged in these activities despite a lack of teaching credentials, limited training and minimal supervision. Similar practices have been questioned in previous research. Additionally, the working environment for the paraprofessional was less than ideal. It was reported that paraprofessionals were not respected by teachers or administrators and the paraprofessionals were shown little recognition for the work they did. Job satisfaction was derived from an enjoyment of working with children. Recruitment of research subjects was difficult for this study. The negative school climate seemingly played a role in this as the participant reported other paraprofessionals worried about a lack of confidentiality and repercussions in the workplace. Future researchers may need to factor in school climate when determining an appropriate recruitment method. Although findings may be specific to the district in this study they are supported by previous research. Implications for practice include looking closely at appropriate roles and responsibilities for one-on-one paraprofessionals along with providing adequate training and supervision. This could involve providing training for those that will be supervising the paraprofessionals. Districts may wish to consider way to promote a stronger sense of staff cohesion and mutual respect.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Specialist in Education


Department of Special Education

First Advisor

Susan K. Etscheidt


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