2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase


Virtual Instruction and Early Special Education: Parent and Teacher Perspectives

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Lisa Beymer


The purpose of this study is to identify the impacts of virtual instruction on education in developmental preschools. In the state of Idaho, developmental preschools provide special education services to students ages 3-5 with disabilities. Each student has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) which includes the services they are provided, individualized goals, and how progress towards their goals will be tracked.

The researcher conducted a brief literature review that highlighted the difficulties of virtual instruction with young students, and the importance of parent-teacher collaboration. The researcher then conducted twenty anonymous surveys of developmental preschool teachers and parents. The surveys asked respondents to rank statements on a five-point Likert scale and had the option to add any comments. Lastly, the researcher reviewed eight anonymous IEPs and progress monitoring reports from three developmental preschool classrooms in Boise, Idaho spanning winter 2019 to winter 2020.

The researcher collected mixed-method data. The researcher charted minutes of instruction across virtual and in-person environments outlined in students’ IEPs. Three major codes emerged from the survey comments and progress monitoring data: social-emotional learning, data reliability, and parent responsibility in education.

The results of this study demonstrate that students receive fewer minutes of instruction when content is delivered virtually. It also suggests that virtual instruction may not be appropriate because students cannot work towards social-emotional goals with other peers. This study shows evidence that educators relied on parent reports to track progress, but did not feel confident utilizing those reports to influence future instruction. The findings indicate parents had additional responsibility to ensure children attending classes and completed activities within virtual instruction. It also shows some parents benefited from virtual education by accessing resources to support student’s development at home.

While the scope of this study was limited, it highlights the need for future educators to consider students’ present social-emotional development. It also identifies the need to consider how to take reliable data on students’ goals if they are not physically present in the classroom. Lastly, it provides insight into parents’ current responsibilities and needs in early education.

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