Enhancing the Preparation of Special Educators through Service Learning: Evidence from Two Preservice Courses

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A challenge for teacher educators in special education is to impact the beliefs and attitudes of preservice teachers in ways that cultivate or strengthen dispositions and inform practice. This study investigated the impact of service-learning experiences on the development of professional dispositions by undergraduate students in two preservice special education courses. A constant comparative analysis of student focus-group transcripts and reflective journal entries uncovered two convergent themes. First, students in both courses developed a sense of professional efficacy. Secondly, students developed positive regard for the abilities of students with disabilities and the contributions of parents as partners in their children's education. Recommendations are provided for designing service-learning experiences in ways that maximize the impact of the experiences on preservice teachers' perceptions and attitudes toward working with students with disabilities and their families.

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Publication Title

International Journal of Special Education