Publication Date

5-2021

Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

3-3-2021

Type of Culminating Activity

Dissertation

Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology

Department

Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Kerry Rice, Ed.D.

Advisor

Norm Friesen, Ph.D.

Advisor

Yu-Chang Hsu, Ph.D.

Abstract

Students with disabilities (SWD) are participating in supplemental online programs (SOP) and through the provisions of special education must receive specialized instruction to meet their academic potential. These students have a group of individuals, including educators, specialists, school leaders, and their own parents, collaborating to implement learning accommodations for them to support their academic success. This group is known as the Individualized Education Program Team (IEP Team). Without accommodations to the learning environment and to their learning activities, the academic achievement of SWD may be adversely impacted. The IEP Team must collaborate to create an effective Individualized Education Program (IEP) that is specially designed for their target student in the student’s current educational placement. Special Education Directors (SED) are central to the functioning of IEP Teams as they support SWD in SOP. This relationship, and the resulting provision of special education services, has not been thoroughly researched. The purposes of this mixed methods study were to identify the needs of SWD in SOP, to identify the processes used by IEP Teams to support SWD in SOP, and to determine how those processes meet the needs and support SWD in SOP. The first phase of research was a quantitative online survey of SED followed by a second phase of qualitative semi-structured interviews of selected participants which more fully elucidated current student needs and IEP Team processes that address those needs and support these students. Findings include a confidence in the established IEP Team process and in special education staff, concerns over the ability of special education staff to support or accommodate SWD in online courses, the perception that the needs of SWD in online educations settings are different than those in face-to-face settings, the perception that the SED give significant guidance to IEP Teams while allowing them independent function, and the use of the Covid-19 related increase in online learning to identify ways to better serve SWD online. This research suggests IEP Teams return to the IEP Team meeting and to the familiar process through which to do the requisite work to support SWD in online educational settings.

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