Mathematics teachers and the inclusion of students with mathematical learning disabilities
Steffek, Edward Frank
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This study investigated teachers’ perceptions of their abilities to teach mathematics and which evidence-based interventions they were currently using to teach students with mathematical learning disabilities (MLD) in their inclusion classrooms. In this descriptive study, a researcher-designed survey instrument was used to investigate (a) demographic and educational characteristics of inclusion teachers of MLD at the middle and secondary levels, (b) participants’ knowledge of MLD, (c) how prepared and supported participants felt they were to teach students with MLD, and (d) whether or not participants were using evidence-based teaching strategies and interventions in their inclusion classrooms. Participants were 98 middle and high school math, special education, and/or inclusion teachers from five North Texas suburban school districts who were currently teaching mathematics classes. Survey results provided a snapshot into participants’ perceptions of their abilities to teach mathematics and which evidence-based interventions they were currently using in their inclusion classrooms; these results can shape future research and highlight teachers’ training needs. While the majority of the results aligned with current research, some results did not align with current research, indicating the need for caution when making broad generalizations. The findings in this study support continuing the discussion about the most effective teacher preparation opportunities for middle and secondary mathematics teachers related to the unique characteristics and learning styles of students with MLD. Study results indicated that teacher education programs should provide current evidence-based research to their future teachers in easy-to-use methodologies with non-intimidating terminology, school administrators should support ongoing professional development opportunities that promote the instructional effectiveness of teachers, and that the participants felt overworked, undertrained, but still yet have the best of intentions to meet the educational needs of their students including their students with MLD.