Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Special education teachers--Training of; Student teachers--Attitudes; Self-efficacy;


This study was designed to examine preservice teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs in teaching students with special needs during student teaching and to explore potential influential factors contributed to its change. The efficacy theory (Bandura, 1977) was applied as the theoretical frameworks of this study. This framework guided this study for a deeper understanding of how preservice teachers interpreted their experiences when teaching students with special needs.

The participants were preservice teachers in one of a university in the Midwest who enrolled in the student teaching program in Spring 2018 and taught students with special needs in their classroom(s). Collecting data, this study employed The Teaching Students with Disabilities Efficacy Survey (TSDES, Dawson & Scott, 2013) to gather information about preservice teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs and how it changed over student teaching. The TSDES covers five areas, but this study only focuses on four areas: instruction, professionalism, providing support, and classroom management which consists of 16 questions with a 7-point scale. Structured interviews were conducted three to four times for four participants to explore how they perceived their teaching experiences. The first survey was distributed at the end of the first placement, and 76 participants completed the survey (33% response rate), while the second survey was distributed six weeks afterward at the end of the second placement with the completion of 41 participants. In order to examine the preservice teachers’ self-efficacy in the first placement, descriptive statistics were employed. Followed by paired t-tests, the preservice teachers’ self-efficacy change was examined, and independent t-tests were conducted to determine factors that differentiate preservice teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs. The interview data was analyzed through systematic qualitative analysis to explore influential factors of preservice teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs.

The results of this study indicate that at the end of the first placement, preservice teachers perceived high efficacy in all areas, more specifically they were higher in providing support (μ = 5.81) and professionalism (μ = 6.44) than classroom management (μ = 5.38) and instruction (μ = 5.81) in teaching students with special needs. Also, the four interview participants reported a lack of entry level knowledge and skills in teaching students with special needs and in collaborating with other teachers at the beginning of the first placement. At the end of the second placement, there was a significant improvement of preservice teachers’ self-efficacy in the area of classroom management (t (40) = 2.245, p < 0.05, d = 0.35), whereas the qualitative data revealed improvement in the other areas. This change was influenced by six factors: successful experiences, quality of relationships with students with special needs and teachers, previous coursework primarily with special education content, previous experiences, and the availability of support based on qualitative findings. Implications for teacher preparation programs and future research are presented.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Special Education

First Advisor

Susan Etsheidt, Chair

Second Advisor

Frank Kohler, Co-Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xi, 241 pages)



File Format


Available for download on Thursday, May 06, 2021