Service Providers on Special Student Research Paper

Pages: 15 (6882 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching


There is considerable evidence indicating that school characteristics such as inflexible scheduling, culturally insensitive environments, rigid instructional strategies, ineffective special student engagement, and poor curriculum design which fails to recognize cultural differences and values, inhibit academic achievement-especially among low-performing special students (Giroux, 1994; Hixson & Tinzmann, 1990; Klem & Connell, 2004; Richardson & Colfer, 1990). Unlike the environmental factors previously mentioned, educational service providers nonetheless have considerable influence over delivery of services with respect to curriculum, scheduling, text selection, and instructional strategies. Of particular interest to this researcher are instructional strategies-specifically, pedagogical practices that provide support for special students -- and how low-performing and high-performing special students might perceive them differently.

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This chapter presents a synthesis of the literature as it relates to the role teachers play in supporting their special students through the ethic of service, the ethic of responsibility, the ethic of authenticity and the ethic of presence-especially with those special students most at-risk of dropping out of Cedar Valley School prior to receiving a diploma, and specifically explores the closely related 16 topics of special students' sense of self-efficacy derived from teacher attentiveness, special student motivation, and role of ELL teachers, counselors, occupational therapist, speech therapist & physical therapist and encouragement.

Research Design

This qualitative study focused on the collective case studies (Stake, 1995) of special students and teachers with attention given to role of ELL teachers, counselors, occupational therapist, speech therapist & physical therapist among low-performing and high-performing special students and teachers' perceptions of providing support to their special students. The rationale for a case study is that it provides for a wide array of contextually rich data drawn from multiple sources (Creswell, 1998).

TOPIC: Research Paper on Service Providers on Special Student Assignment


The school chosen for this study was selected after informally consulting with a few Cedar Valley School superintendents. The purpose of the initial consultations was to provide an opportunity for the superintendents to describe their general perceptions of support provided by their principals and teachers to district special students. The school ultimately selected was based upon the recommendation of the superintendent, the availability of the principal and the opportunity to allow this researcher to interview selected teachers and special students. Following the recommendation of the superintendent, this researcher met with the building principal for the 46 purpose of explaining the proposed research, describing the theoretical framework, underscoring the significance of the study, and securing a commitment on the principal's part to fully participate in the study. Both the superintendent and the principal granted permission to utilize the school system.

Three Cedar Valley School teachers from Cedar Valley School were selected on a nonrandom purposive basis. I engaged the principal in an in-depth conversation regarding teacher support of special students, environments conducive to learning, and other topics as they relate to special student academic achievement. During the conversation I introduced the principal to Starratt's (2004) model of the ethics of responsibility, authenticity, and presence. We discussed at length the potential for the application of the ethics in teacher professional development to overcome obstacles to special student learning and how, in many classrooms, we see the ethics being applied successfully in teacher-special student interactions. I asked the principal to identify teachers who, in his opinion, best represented the application of the ethics of responsibility, authenticity, and presence and at least one teacher who did not fit the paradigm (see Appendix C for instructions to principal). This researcher, based upon the recommendation of the principal, then selected the teachers. It should be noted that the researcher did not know the identity of the non-paradigm teacher during the selection process. Teaching core-area classes was a common denominator among the selected teachers. In the event a recommended teacher would have chosen not to participate in the study, the next teacher recommended by the principal would have been contacted. The process continued until three teachers were secured and each agreed to participate in the study.

Two special students were selected on a stratified-random basis from each teacher's classroom for a total of six special student participants. Lecompte and Preissle (1993) refer to this process as 47 criterion-based selections. Specifically, the special students selected represented a sampling of high performing and low-performing special students as defined by their grade-point average at the conclusion of the previous academic year. It should be noted, however, that each special student participating in the study was currently a special student of record with the respective participating teacher. This researcher chose the special students by drawing at random from the class rosters of each teacher. Each class roster was divided by the respective class teacher into two distinct groupings. The first grouping consisted of those special students with a grade point average of 3.0 or above; the second grouping consisted of special students with grade point averages of 2.0 or below. All averages were based on a 4.0 scale. One special student was drawn, at random, from each grouping for each teacher-totaling two special students per teacher. In the event selected special students would have chosen not to participate or appropriate permission slips were not signed, random sampling would have continued until the pre-determined number of participants was reached. Special students on individualized education plans for special education or Section 504 service plans were excluded from the study in that they receive additional support services not provided to general education special students.

Selected teachers agreed to participate in the study. Special students and parents were also asked to give permission for participation. Letters were sent home for the selected special students and their parents to sign. Once all the letters were received, the interview process began. A priority of this study, and emphasized with all participants, was to keep the identity of the school district, the identity of the school, the identity of the teachers, and the identity of the special students confidential. To that end, fictitious names created by the special students themselves were utilized. To protect the identity of the school and teachers, the researcher assigned fictitious names.

Data & Data Collection Process

The selected participants who agreed to take part in the study were interviewed several times over a one-semester period from September 2010 through December 2010. Four interviews with each participating teacher and special students were conducted at the Cedar Valley School during that time period. Each interview lasted approximately 45 minutes. The exception to the length of time spent in each interview was the first interview, which lasted approximately 90 minutes.

Each interview had a theme, or a few related themes, so as to remain focused and consistent with the review of literature and purpose of the study. Maykut and Morehouse (1994) posited that the use of interviews has been well established in qualitative methods approaches to research and that the depth of the conversations "moves beyond surface talk to a rich discussion of thoughts and feelings" (p. 80). The initial interview focused on introductions, informed consent letters, and general protocol for the remaining interviews and observations. I also attempted to establish some rapport with the participants, ease their apprehension level, and build credibility with them (Glesne, 1999). The second special student interview was designed to elicit descriptive information related to the special student participants' academic status, family background, likes and dislikes. Subsequent special student interviews focused on the relationship between special student participants and their teachers and the special students' perceptions of support received from their teachers. The second and subsequent teacher interviews dealt with teacher perceptions of the support being delivered to their special students. If a participant was unable to meet during a scheduled interview time, every attempt was made to re-schedule and conduct the interview within the same week. When this was not possible or not practical, the questions were added to the next interview time.

Data Analysis

The purpose of this study was to explore role of ELL teachers, counselors, occupational therapist, speech therapist & physical therapist among low-performing and high-performing special students in Cedar Valley School and teachers' perceptions of providing support to their special students. Of particular interest was whether low performing special students' perceptions of role of ELL teachers, counselors, occupational therapist, speech therapist & physical therapist differed from the perceptions of their high performing peers and whether or not teacher perceptions of providing support to their special students aligned with special student perceptions.

Arriving at a universally accepted definition of the term "support" and then assessing the impact that support-however one defines it-on special student motivation and goal attainment presented the greatest challenges in determining the research design that would provide an appropriate format to explore the issue in a deep and rich context. The problem was twofold:

First, arriving at a contextual framework within which to explore the topic and second, embedding the term "support" within a theoretical foundation that would allow an exploration of consistent variables.

Utilizing the case study tradition of qualitative research, I was able to identify common themes of support as presented through… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Service Providers on Special Student.  (2011, March 6).  Retrieved September 23, 2021, from

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"Service Providers on Special Student."  March 6, 2011.  Accessed September 23, 2021.