School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Rachel N. Hernandez


self-efficacy, inclusion, free and appropriate public education, least restrictive environment


Education | Philosophy


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the lived experiences of regular education teachers' perceptions of self-efficacy aligned with the FAPE mandate in an inclusion model at a small, rural school district on the east coast. The central research question was as follows: What are the lived experiences of regular education teachers working within an inclusion model with students with disabilities? The theory guiding this study involves Bandura's self-efficacy theory of behavioral change, which Bandura defines as a core belief in one's capabilities to act to produce results. A qualitative hermeneutical phenomenology approach aligns with the study by offering researchers embedded in a phenomenon the flexibility to interpret lived experiences in an attempt not only to find but also to determine meaning. Fifteen educators from an east-coast school district comprised the sample pool. Collection methods included a survey, fifteen interviews, and a focus group. Triangulation of data revealed how regular education teachers working within an inclusion model understand the FAPE mandate and its impact on a teacher's self-efficacy. Use of a content analysis strategy allowed for categorical interpretation of the structure, order, and patterns found from the lived experiences among the fifteen regular education participants. Three distinct major themes emerged, along with eight subthemes. This study revealed that although the participant teachers were supportive of inclusion model instructional programming, there were lived experiences aligned to the FAPE mandate that negatively (and significantly) affected their self-efficacy.