Perceptions of preservice teachers regarding factors that may impact their persistence in the field of special education
Crane, Leigh A.
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The current shortage of special education teachers in the United States is tied to high rates of teacher attrition. The literature is filled with reasons that special education teachers left the profession. However, the perceptions of preservice special education teachers regarding their persistence in the field have not yet been extensively explored. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to discover factors that preservice teachers believe will influence their persistence in the field of special education and how prepared they perceive themselves to be to deal with these factors. A group of twenty-one preservice special education teachers who were completing the required student teaching experience within a special education program at a major university in Texas were the subjects in the study. Research was completed through the analysis of data collected through interviews; focus groups; surveys; student teaching evaluation documents; and student exit questionnaires. Although some of the factors mirrored those of current special education teachers, new factors were also uncovered during the research process. Several themes emerged through a synthesis of these factors. The themes included 1) feeling supported and valued by administrators, colleagues, mentors, and paraprofessionals; 2) being equipped with the training, skills and resources necessary to be successful; and 3) finding personal fulfillment in their jobs.