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Title:The Dynamics of Student Teaching: Bringing Paraeducators Into the Discussion
Author(s):Mahfood, Stephanie Lynn
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):James Halle
Department / Program:Special Education
Discipline:Special Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Higher
Abstract:Paraeducators are playing an increasingly important role in the education of students with disabilities. At the same time, the task of supervising and managing the work of paraeducators is steadily becoming the responsibility of special education teachers. This investigation explores the role of university preservice preparation to assist special educators to work with paraeducators. Using an interpretive lens, this investigation examines the dynamics of the special education student teaching experience for student teachers, mentor teachers, and paraeducators and how this experience can be changed to effectively prepare student teachers to work with paraeducators. One-hour phone interviews were conducted with 12 student teachers, six mentor teachers, and eight paraeducators who completed a student teaching experience at a small, Midwestern university. Analyses of transcripts from these interviews were analyzed for each participant group for prominent themes as well as similarities and differences across the three participant groups. Analysis results indicated that the student teaching experience was a positive one for participants with professional relationships with colleagues playing an important role; however, participants indicated that little preparation was provided to student teachers in working with paraeducators. After these analyses, three focus group meetings were conducted with a subset of the individuals participating in the interviews. Each focus group had three participants and groups were organized by participant role with a separate group for student teachers, mentor teachers, and paraeducators. Transcripts from each focus group were compared to note prominent themes as well as similarities and differences across the different participant groups. Analyses yielded several recommendations to effectively prepare student teachers to work with paraeducators including providing coursework in this issue prior to student teaching; putting safeguards into place to allow paraeducators to give feedback to student teachers without usurping the professional authority of the student teacher; and deliberately embedding assignments that require student teacher contact with paraeducators. While this investigation represents a first step in examining how future special educators can be prepared at the preservice level to work with paraeducators, additional investigations done in the contexts of other university contexts are needed to expand and refine present results.
Issue Date:2008
Description:274 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3314844
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2008

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