Female Agriculture Teachers’ Lived Experiences and Perceived Professional Development Needs when Teaching Students with Special Needs
Keywords:Professional development, school-based agricultural education, teacher needs, special needs, women
Although previous research in agricultural education has described the needs of SBAE teachers in regard to teaching students with special needs, the reported findings have been overwhelmingly quantitative in nature and have over-relied on females’ perspectives. As such, the purpose of this case study was to explore the experiences and professional development needs of female SBAE instructors in Louisiana when teaching students with special needs. Qualitative data were analyzed using the Borich (1980) model, which identified emergent themes of (1) perceived importance and (2) perceived ability. Additional sub-themes were the perceived importance of identified approaches used to accommodate students and perceptions when teaching students with special needs. Meanwhile, in the theme of perceived importance, participants identified prior education and professional development experiences as critical factors to success when teaching students with special needs. As a result of these findings, we recommended that state agricultural education leaders promote professional development opportunities to improve how female teachers can accommodate students with special needs, specifically in laboratory settings. Further, we recommend that future professional development for women SBAE teachers focus on specific disability types and inclusion strategies, rather than broad and non-specific special education training experiences.