Teachers' Instructional Competencies for Including Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in General Education Settings

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Lauren M. Keaney, Class of 2019


The inclusion of students with disabilities in general education settings has increased particularly since 2004 due to the least restrictive environment provisions outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). However, research has shown that general education teachers are ill prepared to teach students with disabilities, especially those with severe or low incidence disabilities. The current study explored the knowledge and skills required of general education teachers seeking to include students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). We interviewed experienced teachers of students with I/DD to gain insight into such competencies. Participants were three educators (two teachers and one school director) in an elementary school for students with special needs. The participants discussed teaching methods and curriculum considerations relevant to including students with I/DD in general education settings. Data were analyzed utilizing pattern coding to generate categories and larger themes. Discussion and implications of these findings are offered.

Comments from Mentors

It did not take long in my work with Lauren to realize that she has many strengths, not just in her scholarship but also in her character. She is dedicated, mature, collegial, and she is a quick study, to name a few of her best qualities. However, what I found especially unique about Lauren is her keen understanding of practice-based issues in the field of special education. She grounded her academic interests for this project in her real-world experiences in schools, striving to improve services for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities through her research. It can be easy to lose sight of what is really important when engaging in scholarship, but Lauren never did. It was my pleasure to work with her on this project.

--Kathleen Kyzar


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College of Education