Document Type



Doctor of Education



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Carole H. Murphy, EdD


Dr. Kathleen Sullivan Brown

Dr. Helene Sherman

Dr. Vanessa Garry


This study uses a sequential mixed methods multi-strand design to study the teaching behaviors of special education teachers who are teaching elementary k – 5 students with moderate Intellectual Disability (ID) to read. It provides a better understanding of the relationship between teacher beliefs and teacher behaviors and the importance of teacher beliefs when working with special education students. If you have pathognomonic beliefs, you believe “that disability is an internal, fixed, and pathological condition of the individual that is not amendable to instruction” (Jordan, Glenn, & McGhie-Richmond, 2010, p.262). If you have interventionist beliefs you “view disability as created in part by a society that is designed for the able, and that creates barriers for those who have disabilities” (Jordan et al. 2010, p. 262). The research question for the study asks whether there is a significant difference in the teaching performance between teachers of students with Intellectual Disability (ID) who have interventionist beliefs regarding ID students’ ability to learn to read than teachers of ID students with pathognomonic beliefs. Teaching behaviors are divided into four domains: Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities (Danielson, 2007). Teachers were surveyed to measure and classify their belief type as pathognomonic or interventionist beliefs. The survey items are divided into five categories: Assessment, Programming, Individual Education Plan (IEP) Review, Communication with Staff, and Communication with Parents. Teachers were observed in the classroom three times in one week and rated using an observation record form adapted from a teacher evaluation tool entitled Danielson Framework for Teaching (2008). The researcher interviewed participants before determining a total behavior score. An overall belief type and the five categories of beliefs were compared to the four domains and overall behavior score of each participant. A significant relationship was found between the total behavior score(s) of the teacher and the teacher belief category, finding, rτ = 1.000, p < .01. In addition, there was a significant relationship between the behavior score(s) of Domain 1 and the teacher belief category, finding, rτ = 1.000, p < .01. The results suggest that teachers of students with ID who report interventionist beliefs will more likely rate highly on the observation record while teaching. The results of this study could trigger more attention to the underlying variables influencing teacher beliefs and how they affect students with disabilities.

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