Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Special Education


Special Education and Habilitative Services

Major Professor

Dr. Jan Janz

Second Advisor

Dr. Linda Flynn

Third Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Farizo


Before they enter the classroom, teacher candidates must acquire the knowledge, dispositions, and instructional strategies necessary to succeed in educating students with a variety of learning abilities before they enter the classroom. The educational roles and responsibilities required of teacher candidates have changed from a general education classroom without students with disabilities to an inclusive setting for all learners. Now students with disabilities spend more time in the general education classroom to be educated at least 80% of their time with their same-aged peers. Therefore, this qualitative study, through the use of one-on-one interviews, sought to expand the existing research by identifying and analyzing the experiences of nine teacher candidates who were enrolled in a teacher preparation program for dual certification in general and mild/moderate disabilities. Candidates responded to interview questions about their preparation programs regarding coursework, practicum, and student teaching/internship requirements.

While virtually all teacher candidates described their experiences as positive, candidates were prepared to collaborate (work together toward a common goal) with university faculty, special and general education mentors, principals, other educators in the schools. The pairing of teacher candidates with their peers, practicum mentors, and mentors during student teaching/internships, has been shown to provide a more supportive and collaborative environment than the traditional model of teachers who typically worked in silos or autonomously. In these instances, it appeared that not all mentors promoted collaboration, were familiar with co-teaching models or were not able to spend a sufficient amount of time to implement these models, and co-teaching models were lacking and limited time was the contributing factor. Concerns were voiced by candidates who experienced challenges that pertained to the act or perceived value of collaboration in practice when they were mentored particularly by the assigned general education mentor teachers.


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