Teacher Perceptions of Self-Determination for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study was to ask teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing (TODHH) questions regarding self-determination for student with hearing loss. The goal was to identify teachers’ perceptions in five areas: Do they believe self-determination to be important? Do they teach skills associated with self-determination? Do TODHH see students using the skills taught? Do TODHH believe teaching skills of self-determination to be beneficial? Are teachers’ perceptions of self-determination effected by the following: caseload, degree earned, job responsibilities, licensure, training in self-determination?

Procedure

All deaf education teachers within the state of Colorado were invited to participate in the study. Teachers were sent a) a letter explaining the study, b) a consent form, c) a 33-item survey, and d) a colored insert to be returned with their completed survey if interested in a summary of the study. One follow-up mailing and two follow-up emailings were completed to achieve a 40% return rate.

Participants

Seventy-six TODHH (41.9%) throughout the state of Colorado responded. Those surveyed reported teaching for an average of 16 years. Most (88.2%) have a Master’s degree or better and are licensed to teach students with hearing loss. The most commonly reported job responsibility (e.g., preschool level, elementary level, middle school level, high school level, itinerant, resource room, home intervention specialist, administrator, and other) was itinerant (36.8%). Most (68.4%) reported having some kind of self-determination training.

Data Collection

Part one of the survey asked demographic information: number of years teaching; gender, highest degree earned; current job responsibilities; number of students on caseload; licensure; and teacher training in skills associated with self-determination.

Part two of the survey asked teachers to answer questions relating to their perceptions of self-determination using a 5-point Likert scale (e.g., always, almost always, sometimes, almost never, never).

In part three of the survey, teachers were asked to choose all options that applied from a list presented addressing teacher perceptions of self-determination: (e.g., skills associated with self-determination, skills intentionally taught to students, skills teachers observed students using, and choices given to students). Finally, participants were asked to write two to three sentences answering two questions describing how teaching self-determination skills helps prepare students with hearing loss for school, as well as post-school life.

Data Analysis

Frequencies, means, and standard deviations were calculated to see how participants responded. This helped in establishing an overall picture of teacher perceptions. A statistical analysis (MANOVA) was also conducted to see if number of students on a teacher’s caseload; type of degree earned; teacher job responsibilities; licensure (e.g., certified as a teacher of students who are deaf or hard of hearing), or teacher training in self-determination effected how teachers perceived self-determination for students with hearing loss. Finally, a qualitative analysis was conducted to see what teachers perceived as beneficial (or not) in teaching skills associated with self-determination for students who are deaf or hard of hearing in high school or post school life.

Results

Data was examined from the surveys and the following was learned.

Research Question #1 – Do TODHH perceive self-determination to be important for students with hearing loss?

TODHH surveyed reported they believe self-determination to be an important skill for students with hearing loss sometimes-to -almost always (X¯ = 3.672).

Research Question #2 – What skills associated with self-determination do TODHH perceive they teach students who are deaf or hard of hearing, if any?

The top five skills associated with self-determination TODHH perceive they are teaching students with hearing loss are as follows: problem solving (96%), choice making (93%), self-advocacy (93%), independence (89%), and self-evaluation (87%).

Research Question #3 - What do TODHH perceive as the extent students with hearing loss use skills of self-determination taught to them?

TODHH surveyed believe students with hearing loss on their caseload sometimes use skills taught to them (X¯ = 3.192).

Research Question #4 - What do TODHH perceive as the overall benefits associated with teaching skills of self-determination to students with hearing loss?

All teachers who responded perceive self-determination to be beneficial for students with hearing loss. They believe teaching skills associated with self-determination to almost always be beneficial to students who are deaf or hard of hearing (X¯ = 4.043)

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Research Question #5 - Does the number of students on a teacher’s caseload, degree earned, job responsibilities, licensure, or teacher training associated with self-determination influence teacher perceptions of self-determination for students with hearing loss?

The effect of degree earned and licensure could not be analyzed for differences since most teachers had earned a Master’s degree and were licensed to teach students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Caseload, job responsibilities, and teacher training were not found to have statistical significance and job responsibility was found to have a small effect on teacher perceptions.

Additional Findings:

Discrepancy Between Teaching and Learning: There was a progressive decline in teachers’ responses regarding the perception of skills associated with self-determination, skills taught to students, and skills teachers observed students using.

Instrument: The current instrument, while an improvement over a previously designed tool to assess teacher perceptions of self-determination for those in special education (Agran, Snow, & Swaner, 1999), continues to need development in establishing it as a valid and reliable measure of teacher perceptions of this construct for students with hearing loss.

Conclusion

Thank you to all the teachers throughout the state who participated. Educational programs and families are invited to use this information for discussions regarding self-determination for students with hearing loss and ways to promote it. Having the skills associated with problem solving, making choices, independence, and self-advocacy are what will help promote competent and confident adults with hearing loss who are successful in both at home and work. It is suggested this type of research be replicated and expanded. It would be beneficial to (a) incorporate quantitative as well as qualitative data, (b) see how self-determination is promoted and supported in families who have children who are deaf or hard of hearing, (c) conduct longitudinal studies to see the effects of self-determination for students who are deaf or hard of hearing over time; (d) develop curriculum that supports TODHH in teaching and assessing skills related to self-determination for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, and (e) continue to develop the instrument so it can be improved.

If you would like more information regarding the study, please contact Ann Velaski-Sebald (ann.sebald@unco.edu).

References

Velaski-Sebald, A. M. Teacher perceptions of self-determination of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Published Doctor of Education dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, (2005).

Agran, M., Snow, K., & Swaner, J. (1999). Teacher perceptions of self-determination: Benefits, characteristics, strategies. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 34(3), 293-301.