The Impact of Field Experiences on Pre-service Teachers’ Decisions Regarding Special Education Certification
Kathleen M. Everling, Julie A. Delello, Frank Dykes, Joanna L. Neel, Bernadine Hansen

Across the United States, there is a continuing shortage of special education teachers. As a result, institutions of higher education must prepare a sufficient number of highly qualified special educators to meet the needs of students with disabilities. One necessary component of teacher preparation programs is the field-based experience which allows prospective teachers to practice what they have learned in their academic coursework. This qualitative case study examined the relationship between field-based experiences and preservice teachers’ decisions related to obtaining a special education certification. Using an open-ended survey, 55 pre-service teachersfrom one regional four-year university reported that economics and employability were major factors impacting their decision to become certified in special education. In addition, the context of the field experience including time, setting, and teachers, impacted the pre-service teachers’ decisions related to field experiences, both positively and negatively. Recommendations include increasing the amount of time spent in special education classrooms, providing students with improved classroom strategies for working with diverse learners, increasing training in positive behavior intervention techniques, and providing additional opportunities to participate in Individual Education Placement (IEP) writing activities.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jehd.v4n1a8