Effectiveness of podcasts as professional development for Texas special education administrators
Special education administrators oversee students with disabilities’ education, which includes physical education (PE). However, it has been well-reported that special education administrators have a dearth of knowledge with regard to PE for students with disabilities (Gray, 2016; Stewart, 2010). The ability of traditional professional development (PD) to provide special education administrators with the knowledge required to effectively supervise PE services for students with disabilities is hindered by access and cost barriers (Healy, Block, & Kelly, 2016). Online PD may potentially overcome these barriers as it can be made available to special education administrators at their convenience. One form of online PD is called content acquisition podcasts (CAPs), which are podcasts developed using the Cognitive Theory of Multi-Media Learning (Mayer, 2008), that have been shown to be a quick and efficient tool to disseminate knowledge to educators (Kennedy, Kellems, Thomas, & Newton, 2015). The purpose of this study was threefold; to determine: (a) CAPs effect on special education administrators’ knowledge acquisition (KA) of content related to APE services; (b) special education administrators’ perceptions of CAPs for PD purposes; and (c) whether or not the special education administrators’ school district employment of an APE teacher impacts their KA and perceptions of CAPs. The study involved three data collection components: (a) a demographic survey, (b) a pretest, posttest, and retention test that assessed their knowledge of PE for students with disabilities, and (c) a Perceptions of Professional Development Survey (Buschang, 2012) to assess their perception of CAPs. In total 29 participants met the inclusion criteria and completed the pretest and posttest; however only 21 completed all three tests. Results revealed that those who only completed the pretest and posttest had a significant increase in knowledge; however, those who completed retention test had significantly lower retention test scores compared to their posttest scores. Further, overall perceptions of the CAPs as an effective form of PD were quite high. The discussion involves an interpretation of the findings and recommendations for PD for special education administrators that focuses on content related to PE for students with disabilities, and the use of online PD and CAPs.