Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Department of Special Education

First Advisor

Nicole M. Uphold


Federal law provides that all students are entitled to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment (LRE). In order to educate students with disabilities in the LRE, educators need to provide supports to enhance meaningful engagement and success in the general education curriculum. Utilizing supports to increase engagement and human functioning is not a new concept, but it is one that has received increased attention due to scholarly efforts by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2001) and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD; Luckasson et al., 1992; Schalock et al., 2002; 2010). A major premise of this approach is that everyone needs and benefits from supports in an interdependent society; however, individuals with disabilities require supports that differ quantitatively and qualitatively across their lifespan. For educators, understanding students with disabilities through this lens allows planning teams to address the mismatch between what the student is able to do and what is expected in the school through changing the environment(s) (e.g., Universal Design) and/or adding support(s) (e.g., teaching skills).

Application of a social-ecological model to students with disabilities in schools calls for supports to be provided that increase access to general education settings and activities. Supporting students requires educators to problem solve in order to identify possible supports, extend time and energy arranging supports, and fully implement supports. Yet, little is known about educator perceptions of the importance of arranging supports for students with disabilities to increase their engagement in general education classrooms. Therefore, educator understanding of the social-ecological approach and the relative priority ascribed to different types of supports provided in general education settings were investigated. A survey design with corresponding vignettes was utilized to collect data regarding pre-service and practicing educators' perceptions of importance and intensity of different types of supports. Participants rated all supports identified by the IEP team as necessary based on vignettes of students with disabilities; however, there were statistically significant differences in ratings between educator groups for one vignette. Furthermore, significant differences were found between support types when compared with the other six support types. Ratings of intensity did not appear to impact perceptions of importance.


Imported from ProQuest DeSpain_ilstu_0092E_10723.pdf


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