Dissertation

Preschool Inclusion: A Quantitative Study of the Relationships of Teacher-held Mental Models and Organizational Characteristics Towards Recommendations for Regular Early Childhood Programs

This study examines the relationships of teacher-held mental models and organizational characteristics towards recommendations for regular early childhood programs for preschool students with disabilities. the researcher conducted quantitative survey research of 65 early childhood special education (ECSE) teachers throughout California utilizing a modified Scales of Teachers’ Attitudes Towards Inclusive Classrooms (STATIC). the STATIC was accompanied with demographic information, including personal and organizational characteristic items. This research into the relationship of teacher-held mental models towards recommendations for regular programs found that mild/moderate ECSE teachers who perceived psychological benefits of inclusion were more likely to recommend regular early childhood programs for preschool students with disabilities. Additionally, mild/moderate ECSE teachers who disagreed with the statements that students with disabilities are best served with other students with disabilities or students with disabilities have higher self-esteem in special education classrooms, were statistically more likely to recommend regular early childhood programs. This research into the relationships of organizational characteristics found that teachers from larger local educational agencies were more likely to recommend regular programs for preschool students with disabilities. Similarly, teachers with larger caseloads were more likely to successfully recommend regular early childhood programs. in addition, teachers who had experienced increased barriers to recommending regular programs were more likely to find success in recommending the programs over time. Finally, teachers who reported not having the availability of related services in regular programs were less likely to make recommendations.

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