Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Education

Program

Education

Supervisor

Dr. Debra Dawson

Abstract

An increasing number of students with learning disabilities (LD) are attending community colleges in Ontario. Accessible education depends on educators having the knowledge and attitudes needed to reduce barriers and provide an inclusive learning environment. This study investigated the perceptions of community college instructors regarding their preparedness to teach students with learning disabilities. A mixed-methods approach used an on-line questionnaire and semi-structured interviews to collect data from instructors at a large community college in southwestern Ontario. The “Instructor Preparedness Questionnaire” was developed to measure instructors’ knowledge about and attitudes towards students with LD. Follow-up interviews with twelve participants provided qualitative data to further explore instructors’ perceptions of teaching students with learning disabilities.

The results showed that overall instructors’ had moderately positive scores on both the attitude and knowledge scales. However, qualitative data revealed that instructors generally felt unprepared for the task of teaching students with learning disabilities. In addition, they had many misconceptions of what constitutes a learning disability and the needs of students with LD. Instructors expressed the desire and need for professional development on the topics of learning disabilities and inclusive classroom strategies. The importance of preparing college instructors with the knowledge and attitudes for teaching in an inclusive education setting is evident.

The relevance of this research is indicated in the recent implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standard which calls for training for all educators regarding accessibility awareness in course design and delivery. Implications for college administrators, instructors and students are discussed.


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