School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Rollen Fowler


teacher self-efficacy, inclusive education, vocational education, special education


Special Education and Teaching | Vocational Education


Full inclusion of students with disabilities within the general education classroom has been a longstanding goal of many school districts within the United States. Many studies have been conducted to understand what attributes are needed for successful inclusion with the evidence pointing to the need for teachers to have a strong sense of instructional self-efficacy when working with students with disabilities. Copious research concerning teachers’ experiences with inclusive education has been conducted across typical public-school settings; however, scant information is known about inclusive education experiences of general education teachers employed in vocational high schools. The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the experiences that shape and/or affect the self-efficacy of vocational educators teaching students with disabilities in rural inclusive vocational classrooms. The research questions were framed so as to discover what individual, environmental, and prior experiences are be associated with general vocational education teachers’ sense of self-efficacy in teaching students with disabilities in a vocational educational inclusive classroom setting. Criterion-based sampling was used to recruit between 10-15, with a minimum of 10, faculty members from a rural medium-sized technical school in western Massachusetts. Using the Teacher Efficacy for Inclusive Practices scale, one-on-one interviews, and a focus group, the perceptions and experiences related to inclusion were collected, coded, and thematically analyzed using NVivo. From the data, four themes emerged: (a) successful inclusion, (b) prior experiences, (c) awareness and (d) school environment. Study findings may inform curriculum and best practices for teaching to inclusive vocational classrooms and guide professional development decisions regarding inclusive educational practices in vocational classrooms.