Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Jacqui Specht


As school boards in Ontario move towards more inclusive models of learning, more students with disabilities are taught in regular classes instead of self-contained placements. This move results in a role change for the educational assistant (EA). Research is needed to determine the overall framework that will make the use of EAs a more effective practice for student and school. Fifteen EAs working in secondary schools within a school board in southwestern Ontario which was moving to a more inclusive model of education were individually interviewed. EAs chosen for the study had a background of supporting students with developmental disabilities in self-contained placements and had recently moved to support students in a regular class setting. The purpose of the study was to answer the following question: What do EAs need in their profession to make the support of students with developmental disabilities transition from self-contained settings to inclusive classes in secondary schooling successful? Through thematic analysis of the interviews three themes became apparent as concerns for the EA role: collaboration, programming and relationships. The details of these findings can be used to assist school boards to create inclusive practice. It also outlines what EA’s need to support the transition of students with developmental disabilities from a self-contained setting to a regular class setting in secondary schools.

Keywords: educational assistant, developmental disability, inclusion, secondary