Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Special Education

First Advisor

Debra L. Shelden


This exploratory study examined the perspectives of rural secondary special education teachers and related service professionals on structured work experiences for youth with disabilities. An online survey was developed for this study and distributed to teachers and related service professionals through school principals. Rural schools were identified using the National Center for Educational Statistics. The survey included sections on respondent and school demographics, perceptions on the value of, frequency of participation in, and quality of implementation of structured work experiences. Additional sections included perceptions on the level of influence specific barriers have on the implementation of structured work experiences. A total of 51 individuals responded to the survey, and 39 usable surveys are included in the analysis.

Data were analyzed with descriptive statistics. Frequencies, percentages, and standard deviations were calculated. Findings suggest that respondents perceive structured work experiences as beneficial to the development of students with disabilities but that those students do not frequently participate in the activities. Several specific findings are suggested for further consideration. First, there is a disconnect between those activities seen as most beneficial to students and those activities students participate in most frequently. Second, transportation is a continued and significant barrier for rural school programs. Third, respondents did not view administrator support as a significant barrier but did identify multiple barriers that could be influenced by administrative leadership. Fourth, findings suggest a limited understanding of the longitudinal nature of career development and the recommended sequence of structured work experiences.

Though this is an exploratory study with a small sample, the findings point to several important areas for further consideration. Future research needs are presented.


Imported from ProQuest Lies_ilstu_0092N_10576.pdf


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