School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Gail L. Collins


inclusion, inclusive practices, moderate/severe disabilities, perspectives, self-efficacy, special education teachers


Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Methods | Other Education | Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of special education teachers regarding inclusive practices with students with moderate and severe disabilities in a rural North Carolina school district. The purpose of this research was to seek the overall essence of the lived experiences of a purposeful criterion sample of 11 special education teachers as they used inclusion strategies with their students. This study had one central question: How do rural special education teachers describe their experiences with inclusive practices for their students with moderate to severe disabilities? The theories guiding this study were Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Bandura’s social cognitive theory, and Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. The hierarchy of needs theory influences both teachers and their students with disabilities in that both groups must have their basic needs met in order to be motivated and experience success. The social cognitive theory uses the self-efficacy construct to look at how teacher efficacy influences classroom achievement and teachers’ perception of their ability to motivate student learning. The zone of proximal development provides insight into students’ development and the setting in which to educate them. Data was collected via interviews, observations, and focus groups. Teachers reflected on their overall experiences and reported challenges, frustrations, and instructional strategies. Analysis consisted of phenomenological reduction methods. I used bracketing, coding, and memoing to identify themes and patterns within the data. I provided areas of future study concerning special education teachers in the area of inclusive practices for students with moderate to severe disabilities.