Emily Ann Jones




School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Ellen Ziegler


Retention, Novice, Supports, Special Education, Teachers


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to explore novice special education teachers’ experiences identifying and utilizing job-related support sources. 12 novice special education teachers at a high school in the southeastern United States participated in this study. The theory guiding this study was the job characteristics theory developed by Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham. It is commonly used as a framework to study how job satisfaction and outcomes are affected by five core job characteristics: autonomy, feedback, skill variety, task significance, and task identity. The central research question for this study aimed at how novice special education teachers describe their experiences of utilizing job-related supports during their first three years of teaching. Data was collected through a combination of semi-structured interview sessions, focus groups, and physical artifacts. The data were analyzed using transcendental phenomenological data analysis, and four themes emerged: managing behaviors in the classroom, logistical barriers to support, collaboration in the workplace, and building connections with students. The findings revealed how novice special education teachers utilize job-related supports through collaboration in the workplace and building relationships with students. Findings also correlated to struggles managing behaviors in the classroom due to the implications from COVID-19. Further research is needed regarding (a) promoting the social-emotional learning of students and teachers, (b) effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on novice special education teachers utilizing support, and (c) enhancing professional development for novice special education teachers. The recommendations provided in this study might be used by school leaders to make informed decisions to retain special educators.