Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration

First Advisor

Mohamed Nur Awaleh


A disproportionate number of Black students with disabilities experience exclusionary discipline practices (e.g., suspensions and expulsions) in K-12 public schools. This disparity persists, regardless of the severity of identified problem behavior, the school’s average socio-economic status, or the type of public school attended. Given that teacher education programs (TEPs) are pivotal training grounds for pedagogical and philosophical formation, it is crucial for TEPs to demonstrate accountability for building critical consciousness of the factors that produce and perpetuate this disparity. Gaining a fuller understanding of how pre-service special education teachers craft their perceptions of problem behavior during their TEPs may help to rectify this problem. This post-intentional phenomenological study explores the ways pre-service special education teachers from a special education teacher education program in the State of Illinois craft their perceptions of problem behavior and how social identity influences these perceptions. Participants (n = 38) completed three tasks: 1. Social Identity Wheel; 2. Aspects of Identity Questionnaire-IV; and 3. Video Elicitation. Following the three activities, I randomly selected six participants (n = 6) to sit with me for semi-structured interviews. Findings showed a patchwork of ways perception of problem behavior is crafted – the primary way stemming from personal childhood experiences. The influence of social identity on perception was inconclusive. Results have implications for special education teacher educators who are committed to complying with Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) newly adopted Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards for teacher education programs. Results also have implications for school personnel interested in following the recently released guidance from the Department of Education that helps public K-12 schools avoid discriminatory use of discipline against students with disabilities.


Imported from Gilbert_ilstu_0092E_12320.pdf


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