Instructional Practices and Perceptions of Special Educators in Blended Learning Environments
thesisposted on 01.05.2021, 00:00 by Douglas D Fowler
The evolution of technology in the 20th century has had a profound influence on the nature of K - 12 school-based instruction. Availability, accessibility, and usability of technology in instruction and assessment has concurrently increased the diversity of instructional and assessment methods and possible outcomes for student learning. This has become even more clear within the realities of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers have suggested that by embracing technology within the classroom, increased student-centered learning could take place which could effectively customize instruction (Collins and Halverson, 2010). Blended learning in high school settings has been touted for those promising possibilities. Garrison and Kanuka (2004, p. 2) defined blended learning as “...the thoughtful integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with online learning experiences.” Students with disabilities are participating in blended learning at increasingly high rates. In fact, the largest year-to-year growth in blended learning experiences was for students with disabilities (Smith and Basham,2014). Despite early research findings and promising possibilities of blended learning in US high school settings, there remains a significant gap in our knowledge related to fundamental aspects of implementation such as actual use of learning management systems as well as instructional models and assessment of student learning (Alvarado-Alcantar, Keeley, and Sherrow, 2018; Bell, Smith, and Basham, 2016; Altemueller and Lindquist, 2017; Staker and Horn, 2012; Graham, 2006). I used a qualitative design to describe richly special educators’ practices and perceptions. The study included surveys and interviews of high school special education teachers working in blended learning environments. The data were coded and analyzed to find emerging themes. The findings of this study provide a greater understanding of the planning and teaching that happens for students with disabilities in high school blended educational settings. The knowledge teachers use to plan and their focuses, choices for instructional strategies and overall perspectives about how blending learning instruction could support the strengths and challenges of disabilities with disabilities in high school settings are explored and presented.