2006 Conference General Sessions

Teacher Attitudes Toward the Inclusion of Technology When
Presenter #1
Barry Birnbaum
Northeastern Illinois University
5500 N St Louis Avenue
4044- O6ZC
Day Phone: 773 442 5593
Fax:173 442 5590
Email: b-birnhaum@neiu.edu

Working with Students with Disabilities
This session will focus on the attitudes teachers have when they need to incorporate technology into the classroom. A survey was developed that measured these attitudes and the results will be distributed and discussed.

A grant was awarded to Northeastern Illinois University to train career switchers to become teachers of special education. The program awarded the students a master’s degree in special education. Since these individuals came from backgrounds other than education, they were surveyed initially to determine their perceptions of working with children with special needs as well as using technology in the classroom. While completing their degree, the students were employed by the Chicago Public Schools as substitute teachers.
These individuals had no experience or exposure when working with students
or persons with disabilities. They were given free notebook computers by IBM where they were responsible for evaluating software such as Kurzweil and Laureate to determine how such programs could be used in the classroom. The pre-survey measured initial attitudes while the post-survey determined how the student attitudes had changed. Initially, there was some hesitation on the part of the students in deciding to work with students with disabilities. Three students dropped out of the program because they felt “intimidated” by having to teach in a classroom with this population. This was during the initial placement as a substitute and at the beginning of their coursework. Attitudes greatly shifted because of the use and training in the use of technology, particularly assistive technology. One required course in assistive technology seemed to play a role in this shift. It appeared, therefore, that supporting these students with a course in AT changed their perceptions of working with students with disabilities. Those who attend this session will be given a copy of the survey that was developed along with the results from the first two cohorts of the grant. Since this was a two year program, the data covers four years and includes the results of nearly fifty graduate students who were part of the program.

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