ERIC Number: ED521130
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Which Is More Effective in Educating Teachers to Work with Children with Autism: An Online or Face-to-Face Format of Instruction?
Robbins, Lisa A.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Kansas
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of an online format of instruction versus a face-to-face format of instruction in order to determine which format of instruction is most effective in educating teachers to work with students with autism spectrum disorders. Given the current rise in students with autism being served in public schools, their unique learning needs, and the chronic shortage of special education teachers, there is a need for universities and districts to identify additional ways to be able to effectively train teachers to meet the unique needs of this population of students. A review of literature revealed that the numbers of children being identified with autism and served in school districts across the country, and Missouri, continues to rise at an alarming rate. Consequently, there is a need for schools to ensure that appropriate educational services are provided for this population (Feinberg & Vacca, 2000; Simpson, 2004). It is well documented that the unique learning characteristics of this population of students differ greatly from other learners requiring teachers to possess specialized skills in order to adequately meet their needs (Simpson, 2005). Identifying additional avenues for training teachers to work with these students is critical. With the growing number of online education programs, there is an increasing need for scientific studies that evaluate the efficacy of online courses, both on their own, and as they compare to traditional classroom courses. Research on the satisfaction and achievement of students in online versus face-to-face courses has produced mixed results: some findings suggest that students in online course are not as successful or not as satisfied with their courses as students in face-to-face courses and others suggest that online students perform just as well or better than students in face-to-face classes. There are few studies that look at the relationship and variables between these two formats of instruction for training teachers to effectively work with students with autism spectrum disorders (Weissman, et al., 2004). Students participating in this study were enrolled in the pilot course as part of a series of 6 graduate courses in the area of autism being offered for the first time at a university in Missouri. State approval for the program was not obtained until shortly after the course began, and enrollment in the courses was limited and expectedly low. A pre and post survey instrument, the "General Competencies in Autism Spectrum Disorders", was developed, and completed by both groups of students before the course began, and then immediately following the completion of the course. Students were asked to complete a Likert-scale format of items to rate their own knowledge and skill level in various areas of general knowledge in autism spectrum disorders. In addition, students participating in each format of instruction completed a survey relative to their particular format of instruction to identify variables they considered beneficial to their particular format of instruction as well as barriers. The results of this study have important implications for designing the remaining courses in the program, as well as additional personnel preparation initiatives for current and future special educators at the university and in the field of autism. The need for additional, effective teachers to work with students with autism is clear. Is an online format of instruction an effective way to reach more educators? Can individuals who participate in these types of learning formats obtain the necessary skills to be able to transfer what they have learned to work effectively with students with autism? [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.
Descriptors: Instructional Effectiveness, Autism, Online Courses, Classes (Groups of Students), Special Education Teachers, Educational Technology, Teacher Education, Universities, Graduate Students
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Missouri; United States