Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Lena G. Caesar

Second Advisor

Larry D. Burton

Third Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Abstract

Purpose of the Study. Support programs have been known to be very effective in helping students succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. The purpose of this study was to investigate teachers' perceptions of the availability and need of a support program for students with learning difficulties who attend elementary schools operated by the Atlantic Union (AU) Conference. The study also identified elements of a support program that teachers perceived as both available and necessary for the academic growth and development of these students.

Method. This study employed a survey research methodology in which survey questionnaires were used to gather information from teachers in Seventh-day Adventist elementary schools operated by the AU Conference. The study utilized self-administered survey questionnaires sent to 265 subjects, from 55 elementary schools operated by the AU Conference.

Results. Approximately 43% of the teachers reported that support programs were available for students with learning difficulties attending schools in the AU conference. Not surprisingly, about 93% of the teachers indicated there is a need for such a support program. Except for ethnicity and Conferences, no relationships were found between reported availability and demographic characteristics ( p >0.05) and perceived need and demographic characteristics (p >0.05). Teachers employed by the New York (New York and Greater New York) Conference perceive that a comprehensive and collaborative system is available, whereas Northeastern teachers perceive that valuing and addressing diversity, assessment procedures, and comprehensive and collaborative systems are needed. The African American and Caribbean American teachers perceive a greater need for all elements of a support program with the exception of skills development and support. The responding teachers also believe that parents, teachers, and students experience various challenges in not having a support program and that there are many advantages in having such a program.

Conclusions. Findings of this study indicate that the majority of AU Conference elementary school teachers perceive that there is a need for a support program to assist students experiencing learning difficulties. Findings also indicate that nearly half of AU Conference elementary school teachers perceive that although some elements of a support program (assessment procedures and positive learning opportunities) may be currently available, elements needed may strongly outweigh availability. These results strongly suggest that there may be a significant need for additional support programs for children with learning difficulties attending AU Conference elementary schools. This study also provides data that may be useful to policy makers and school administrators regarding the specific elements of a support program that teachers perceive as being needed.

Subject Area

Seventh-day Adventist elementary schools--Northeastern States, Seventh-day Adventist elementary schools--New England, Learning disabilities, Students with disabilities, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. North American Division. Atlantic Union Conference, Atlantic Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

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