K-12 STEM Educators and the Inclusive Classroom


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Virginia Tech


The United States public schools promote inclusion and educational equity among diverse student populations. Considerable and growing numbers of students with categorical disabilities and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) are enrolled in regular classrooms. The systemic barriers in learning that they have could impact teacher perceptions and decisions about teaching practices as well as the teaching profession. These students have challenged K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers to provide high-quality, accommodative service and equitable educational opportunities in an increasingly STEM-infused society. Professional development associated with teaching students with disabilities and LEP is critical to inform in-service STEM teachers with these students' learning needs and promote student success. Effective preparation and support help maintain teacher satisfaction and retention within the teaching profession. However, the levels and perceptions of STEM teacher participation in such professional development, and whether the service load and professional development regarding the concerned groups of students associated with teacher satisfaction and retention remain unclear.

This dissertation addresses these issues through two research studies using secondary analysis of the 2011-2012 School and Staffing Survey Teacher Questionnaire (SASS TQ) national dataset. The first study focused on K-12 STEM educator participation and perceived utility regarding their professional development experience concerning students with disabilities and LEP. Quantitative analysis revealed an overall lower level of participation and perceived utility of such professional development for STEM educators compared to all other educators. The second study examined teacher satisfaction and intent to remain in teaching, as well as their relationships to teacher service load and professional development specific to students with disabilities and LEP. Results indicated that K-12 STEM educators were less likely to feel satisfied or intent on remaining in teaching, compared to the remainder of the teaching population. Logistic regressions showed that service load of students with LEP predicted teacher satisfaction and participation in professional development concerning students with disabilities associated with teacher intent to remain in STEM education, especially for science educators. These findings collectively suggested the necessity and demands of sufficient and useful professional development offerings regarding the two concerned groups of students in inclusive STEM education settings.



STEM education, students with disabilities (SWD), Limited English Proficiency (LEP), teacher professional development, teacher satisfaction and retention, School and Staffing Survey Teacher Questionnaire (SASS TQ), Logistic regression