School of Education
Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)
James L. Zabloski
Collaboration, Decision-making, Labeling, Parental Involvement, Special Education
Solomon, Cheryl Y., "Special Education and Parental Decision-Making Experiences: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study" (2019). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 2282.
The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to investigate the decision-making experiences of parents/guardians relative to an offer of Special Education Services for their child. The participants for this study were 10 parents of children in one suburban county in the northern Virginia region who made decisions regarding acceptance of Special Education Services. The children of participating parents were of varying ages and types of disabilities. The two theories that guided this research and helped explain factors that influenced parents’ special education related decision-making experiences were the grief cycle (Haley, Hammond, Ingalls, & Marin, 2013) and decision theory (Dewey, 1910/1978). The central research question in this study was “How did parents/guardians in one suburban county in the northern Virginia region who received notification of eligibility for Special Education Services determine whether they would or would not use those services for their child?” The sub-questions were as follows: 1) How, if at all, did the perception of special education designations impact the decision of parents/guardians in one suburban county in the northern Virginia region to use Special Education Services for their child? 2) How, if at all, did the quality of parent–school collaboration impact the decision of parents/guardians in one suburban county in the northern Virginia region to use Special Education Services for their child? Data were collected through questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, and parental reflections and were analyzed using coding methodologies common to qualitative analysis. The results of the analysis indicated that parents’ special education related decision-making experiences included four primary categories of factors or themes: (a) awareness, (b) negative perceptions, (c) advantage, and (d) trust.