Agricultural education student teachers' confidence and knowledge: Teaching special needs students
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Agricultural education programs are becoming a popular course for the inclusion of students with disabling conditions, but little research has been conducted to assess teacher confidence and knowledge regarding special education and teaching diverse populations in agricultural education classrooms and laboratories. This dissertation investigated and measured student teacher confidence in regard to teaching special education students in agricultural education classrooms and laboratories. Student teacher knowledge of common disabling conditions and special education laws were investigated. Three hundred thirty-five student teachers located in the Southern Region as defined by American Association of Agricultural Education (AAAE) participated in the study. There were 13 states and 40 universities in the southern region. States participating in this study include: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Student teachers participated by completing an on-line instrument. The instrument was divided into two sections. The first section sought to determine confidence levels related to teaching special needs students in agricultural education classroom and laboratories. Items in this section were designed to determine confidence in teaching students that possess Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) recognized disabilities. Other confidence questions focused on the participants’ knowledge in special education law, providing the least restrictive environment (LRE), participating in Individual Education Program (IEP) development, and providing an appropriate and challenging curriculum for all students. Section two involved three multiple-choice questions for each IDEA recognized disability and three special education law topics. The instrument consisted of a total of 11 confidence questions, 33 multiple choice questions in knowledge, and 11 demographic questions. Data were collected in the spring of 2005 and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) 12th edition. The researcher found that relationships to total confidence and total knowledge produced no significant interaction. Student teacher demographics produced statistically significant differences with total confidence and total knowledge scores. Recommendations include continued research as well as incorporating these findings to design curriculum to address special needs issues in agricultural education classrooms and laboratories for future student teachers for the betterment of learners involved in agricultural education teacher certification programs.