Examining Educators' Perceptions About Teaching Students Identified with Reading Disabilities

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The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of secondary sociocultural artifacts on educators’ perceptions about teaching students identified with reading disabilities (RD). This investigation offered an alternative to traditional special education research by considering sociocultural influences, rather than emphasizing innate characteristics within students. A definitive conceptual model that explained how secondary sociocultural artifacts shape educators’ perceptions of teaching students identified with RD was not found in a review of related literature. Therefore, a specific examination of these perceptions of educators as situated within the unique context within which they were employed was sought. Using a descriptive case study design, a detailed account of the themes within sociocultural artifacts and the perceptions of educators across various roles were gathered within one school district. Since RD tends to be identified in late elementary grades, educators with responsibilities for grades 4-7 were included. Data were gathered across three phases using the methods of document analysis, questionnaires, and interviews. Twelve participants completed the questionnaires and six participants completed interviews. Four major findings were identified from this study. First, the contents of the secondary sociocultural artifacts salient to this school district aligned with either a special or an inclusive education model. Second, classroom teachers’ perspectives on reading disabilities aligned with a fixed deficit model overall, rationalized by their personal experiences with artifacts of special education. Third, classroom teachers’ beliefs about their own self-efficacy to teach students identified with RD varied, based on different aspects emphasized in their reflections on teaching students identified with RD. Fourth, those artifacts aligned with special education were perceived as inhibiting classroom teaching of students identified with RD. The findings from this study contributed to a conceptual framework for how secondary sociocultural artifacts shape educators’ perceptions. Given the important influence of educators’ perceptions on their actual practices, this study was critical to understand how to stimulate actions aimed at improving teaching practices for students identified with RD.
sociocultural theory, secondary sociocultural artifacts, reading disabilities, special education, inclusive education, perspectives on disabilities, teacher self-efficacy
Funk Robinson, K. (2022). Examining Educators’ Perceptions About Teaching Students Identified with Reading Disabilities (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.