Teachers' perceptions of working with mainstreamed deaf and hard of hearing students

Kopans, Lauren Sue, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Virginia
Reeve, Ronald, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Richards, Herbert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Abidin, Richard, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hallahan, Daniel, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This study examined regular education teachers' perceptions of mainstreamed deaf and hard of hearing students, and their experiences working with these students. Fifty elementary school teachers, from 11 states throughout the country, completed questionnaires pertaining to two students in their classrooms. One set of questionnaires related to a mainstreamed deaf or hard of hearing student, and the other set pertained to a hearing (control) student, who was matched with the deaf child on sex and race, and was not receiving special education services. For each student, teachers completed the Social Skills Rating System, the Student-Teacher Relationship Scale, and the Index of Teacher Stress, as well as Demographic/Background Information forms. Teachers also filled out a Communication Competency Scale pertaining to the deaf students, and they provided demographic and background information about themselves.

Results indicated that the teachers in this study did not experience greater levels of stress in relation to their rated deaf students than their rated hearing students. Similarly, they did not perceive differences in the quality of their relationships with these two groups of students. Teachers reported that the deaf students had weaker social skills and lower academic abilities than the hearing students. However, scores on the relevant variables for the deaf children, while lower than those for the hearing children, were still in the average range. The communication abilities of the deaf students were significant correlates of teachers' perceptions of these students' social skills and academic competence, the quality of the student-teacher relationship, and their own experiences of stress working with these students. Interestingly, the number of school-based support services that teachers received (e.g., in-service training), and the hours of special education services their deaf students received (e.g., interpreters, educational resource), were not, collectively, predictors of teacher stress. The correlation between hours of services that deaf students received and teacher stress was significant, but was of low magnitude.

Overall, the teachers in this study perceived their deaf students as performing very well in the regular education classroom, and they felt capable of effectively working with these students. Suggestions for improving upon and expanding the present study were presented.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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