Field-based experiences for culturally responsive special education teacher preparation
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Focusing on increasing student diversity, special education teacher preparation programs must work towards developing preservice special education teachers’ ability to address culture, language, and disability in meeting the educational needs of students from socio-culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds with disabilities during the field-based experiences (Cloud, 1993, 2002; Garcia & Malkin, 1993; Kushner, 2008). Field-based experiences provide preservice special education teachers an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills learned at the university while receiving guidance from teacher educators. Expanding on what has been reported in the literature, this study focused on what the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE) member institutions are reporting about the preparation of preservice special education teachers to use culturally responsive teaching (CRT) with students from CLD backgrounds with disabilities during the field-based experience. The purpose of this non-experimental, mixed-methods study was to explore what coordinators of special education teacher preparation programs with specific knowledge of the field-based experience component are currently reporting about the preparation of preservice special education teachers to be culturally responsive in their work with students from CLD backgrounds with disabilities during the field-based experience. The following were addressed as a part of the survey: (a) demographic information (b) program preparation for addressing diversity, (c) incorporation of diversity standards, (d) conceptualization of how teachers learn to teach, (e) selection of field-based experiences, (f) supervision of preservice special education teachers, (g) facilitated reflection, and (h) outcomes. The survey yielded a response rate of 50%. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative analysis. The findings provided a more thorough understanding of the practices currently being reported by the HECSE member institutions to prepare preservice special education teachers to meet the educational needs of students from CLD backgrounds with disabilities during the field-based experience including: (a) incorporation of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) skills standards for multicultural competence (b) implementation of the components of CRT, and (c) facilitated reflection opportunities. Implications for the preparation of preservice special education teachers and future research are discussed.