Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Special education teachers--Attitudes;


This qualitative investigation of three, K-12, in-service special education teachers’ dispositions employs the pillars of Disability Studies in Education (Connor, Gabel, Gallagher, & Morton, 2008) and Villegas’ (2007) definition of disposition to interpret the observational and interview data. Central to the study are the teachers’ beliefs about their students’ learning potential and the impact of those beliefs on their instructional behaviors—dispositions—that support or hinder social justice. Consideration is also given to the educational and life experiences that the educators identify as contributing to their professional disposition. Analysis of the data demonstrated five primary themes. (1) Disposition, although influential in the classroom, is not easily defined. (2) Life and educational experiences shape the educator’s disposition/s; (3) the participants’ primary perception of disability is rooted in the medical model. (4) Participants expressed frustrations with the current model of special education and the lack of professional respect they experience. Finally, (5) the inquiry and opportunity to discuss their beliefs and practices stimulated the teachers’ self-reflection. Keywords: K-12 special education; teacher dispositions; Disability Studies in Education; social justice; reflection

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Special Education

First Advisor

Marybeth C. Stalp, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 171 pages)



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