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The relationship between workaholism tendencies and stage of development in a K-12 teacher population


Abstract and Figures

Workaholism has been defined as a compulsive devotion to work that significantly impairs other areas of an individual’s life (Selinger, 2007). Since this disorder was first conceptualized by Oates (1971), few articles have been published on the nature of workaholism tendencies for workers employed in specific occupations. A Mississippi sample was utilized for this study, for the purpose of exploring workaholism tendencies in a kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) teacher population. Results indicate that elementary school teachers in particular may exhibit workaholism tendencies. Additionally, beginning teachers, those with more than 10 years of teaching experience, and those who teach in struggling school districts, may be the most likely to struggle with work addiction.
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VOLUME 2 | NUMBERS 2&3 | DEC. 2013–APR. 2014
Journal of
Contemporary Research In Education
VOLUME 2 | NUMBERS 2&3 | DEC. 2013 – APR. 2014_______________________________
Lane Roy Gauthier
University of Mississippi
Tawannah Allen Kerry Holmes
Fayetteville State University University of Mississippi
RoSusan Bartee Susan McClelland
University of Mississippi University of Mississippi
Cheryl Bolton K.B. Melear
Staffordshire University (United Kingdom) University of Mississippi
Dennis Bunch Evan Ortlieb
University of Mississippi Monash University (Australia)
Earl H. Cheek, Jr. Mark Ortwein
Louisiana State University, Emeritus University of Mississippi
Kathleen Cooter Rosemary Papa
Bellarmine University University of Northern Arizona
Doug Davis Jim Payne
University of Mississippi University of Mississippi
Lisa Ehrich Don Schillinger
Queensland University (Australia) Louisiana Tech University
Jennifer Fillingim William Sumrall
Austin Peay State University University of Mississippi
Larry Hanshaw Conn Thomas
University of Mississippi West Texas A&M University
Kimberly Hartman Frankie Williams
St. Petersburg College Mississippi State University
Peter S. Hlebowitsh David B. Yaden, Jr.
University of Alabama University of Arizona
Michelle Wallace (Word Processing and Formatting)
University of Mississippi
Journal of
Contemporary Research In Education
VOLUME 2 | NUMBERS 2&3 | DEC. 2013 – APR. 2014_______________________________
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Journal of
Contemporary Research In Education
VOLUME 2 | NUMBERS 2&3 | DEC. 2013 – APR. 2014_______________________________
Changing our Perceptions and Pedagogical Practices with Respect to Language Diversity
Evan Ortlieb
Yusuke Sasaki 49
Student Insubordination, Discipline and Safety Initiatives in Urban Schools
Seunghee Han 53
An Investigation of Attitudes and Perceptions Toward Inclusion: Comparing Preservice
Teachers to First Year Teachers
Nancy Douglas
Jerilou Moore
Kevin Stoltz 68
Improving Preservice Teachers’ Knowledge of Response-to-Intervention (RTI): How Online
Professional Development Modules Can Help?
Nai-Cheng Kuo 80
Intrinsic Motivation and Authentic Engagement: A Conceptual Discussion
Steven Bourgeois 94
The Relationship between Workaholism Tendencies and Stage of Development in a K-12
Teacher Population
Rebekah Reysen
S.Ryan Niemeyer
Amanda Winburn
Ann Monroe 105
What Kind of Possibilities Do We Have?: Educators’ Complex Images of Latino Immigrant
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H. James McLaughlin
Stacie Pettit 115
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Journal of Contemporary Research in Education
316 Guyton Hall
University of Mississippi
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677-1848
Changing our Perceptions and Pedagogical
Practices with Respect to Language Diversity
Evan Ortlieb
Course Leader & Senior Lecturer in Literacy
Yusuke Sasaki
Doctoral Student
Monash University
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education
2(2&3) 49-52
In the last two decades, there have
been significant changes to educational
policy regarding English language and
literacy as the need for English language
proficiency has become increasingly
recognized as central to both academic and
career achievement. Yet, the mere
implementation of a national set of English
language standards is not enough to provide
equal learning opportunities for all
considering the range of cultural
backgrounds and linguistic knowledge
(Cassidy & Ortlieb, 2013; Rennie & Ortlieb,
2013). What is needed is a set of
instructional strategies that can build upon
students’ existing proficiencies (Cervetti &
Hiebert, 2014) rather than ignoring what
they know, who they are, and how they
It is critical that issues around
multilingualism be addressed within
contemporary educational research, as urban
centres are becoming more and more
populated by immigrants (Farr, 2011).
Understanding and valuing cultural diversity
are essential towards strengthening student
experience and achievement (Joseph, 2013).
All individuals must feel free to explore the
uniqueness of their culture and identity
while developing English language
proficiency; however, current pedagogical
pedagogies often inhibit the expression of
Ortlieb and Sasaki
unique perspectives on life and the
transmission of knowledge from minorities.
Teacher educators must take a leadership
role in preparing the next generation for the
roles and responsibilities associated with the
current climate of schools and in turn,
reinvigorate the teaching profession to
embrace the idea of using diversity as an
advantage in student learning (Miramontes,
Nadeau, & Commins, 2011). There is much
to be learned regarding how to use diversity
in productive ways (Au, 2011) and there
seems no one better to learn from than the
very students who have experienced these
challenges. What follows is a description of
some effective teacher practices as
recognized by one Japanese student who
studies in an English speaking university in
the West.
First, teachers should provide
students with extended wait time (Farooq,
2007; McNeil, 2012). Providing students
with time to think will help them formulate
their ideas (Hao, 2011; Zembyras &
Michaelides, 2004) and enhance the
accuracy of responding in English.
Moreover, it can increase the likelihood of
all students contemplating the answer to the
question at hand; in turn, this promotes
class-wide engagement by refraining from
providing the answer and allocating enough
think time for cognitive processing (Ollin,
Japanese students are accustomed to
teachers expecting them to answer
questions as soon as possible. If they
cannot answer immediately, often times,
Japanese teachers will nominate other
students to answer instead. This quick shift
of responsibility from one student to another
creates anxiety for some and for others, a
compelling reason not to attempt difficult
questions because they know the teacher
will just call on someone else after a brief
moment. Environments like these make it
challenging for Japanese students to interact
with and acquire various ideas from peers,
complicating their transition to English
speaking classrooms to an ever greater
Second, teachers should intervene by
providing language assistance within
discussion (Walsh, 2002). In order to meet
learners' needs, timely language intervention
is central to language development (van
Lier, 2000) while also maintaining
sensitivity to students’ struggles in speaking
English as a foreign language. Teachers
need to listen to students attentively and
utilize proper and precise language (Walsh,
International students who use
English as a second or foreign language are
often unfamiliar with words or phrases that
are not found in their native language (e.g.,
articles, conjunctions) not to mention the
lack of verb tenses and word order. Students
need models; they need practice with a
caring teacher who can scaffold students to
consolidate their understanding to new
heights (Applebee, 2002). The development
of English language proficiency will in turn
boost students' motivation and overall
experience in western educational contexts.
As learning English in Japan
is predominantly based on rote learning such
as memorizing vocabulary and grammar
rules rather than speaking English in the
classroom, enhancing communicative skills
is quite cumbersome. It is virtually
impossible for students to know all of the
common phrases and expressions they
should use when communicating in
English. Hence, non-native speakers expect
to learn from teacher feedback to improve
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
English proficiency. Through correction
accompanied with explanation, students are
ready to makes strides within an immersion
experience with the English language
afforded by pragmatic pedagogs.
Third, teachers should create a
comfortable classroom atmosphere
(Gregersen, 2003). Teachers should remind
students that making errors is a natural
process of language acquisition. A
student’s motivation can be maintained
through a variety of means such as a teacher
humanizing oneself by discussing his/her
own errors, learning experiences, and goals
for personal language improvement
(Andrade & Williams, 2009). Working
collectively towards English language
outcomes can cultivate oral language,
reading, and writing improvement. Non-
native speakers often purport the importance
of an open atmosphere that is conducive to
learning, where teachers encourage students
to make mistakes. By reducing the level of
anxiety, language and content knowledge
acquisition can be approached without fear
or reservation.
In summary, there are a number of
strategies that can promote English language
development especially for multilingual
students. These revolve around establishing
an atmosphere where authentic relationships
prevail between teacher and student as well
as student to student. Acknowledging
progress and providing targeted praise to
bolster students with low confidence in
speaking, reading, or writing English is
salient practice. These conditions promote
students’ attention to shift from that of
anxiety and timidness to that of opportunism
and creativity, alongside the support of a
mindful teacher who is well versed in
strategies for English language acquisition.
Who are they? What are their
interests? How do we provide opportunities
for individual growth and development
given their multilingualism? How do we
build upon their existing knowledge of
language and cultural experiences? These
questions must remain at the forefront of
contemporary research in education. As
echoed by Gage (1978) nearly 40 years ago,
there is a scientific basis to the art of
teaching, and it starts with language.
Andrade, M., & Williams, K. (2009).
Foreign language learning anxiety in
Japanese EFL university classes:
Physical, emotional, expressive, and
verbal reactions. Sophia Junior
College Faculty Journal, 29, 1-24.
Applebee, A. N. (2002). Engaging students
in the disciplines of English: What
are effective schools doing? The
English Journal, 91(6), 30-36.
Au, K. H. (2011). Literacy achievement and
diversity: Keys to success for
students, teachers, and schools.
Multicultural Education Series. New
York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Cassidy, J., & Ortlieb, E. (2013). What was
hot (and not) in literacy: What we
can learn. Journal of Adolescent &
Adult Literacy, 57(1), 21-29.
Cervetti, G. N., & Hiebert, E. H. (2014).
Knowledge, literacy, and the
Common Core. TextProject Article
Series. Available at:
Ortlieb and Sasaki
Farr, M. (2011). Urban plurilingualism:
Language practices, policies, and
ideologies in Chicago. Journal of
Pragmatics, 43(5), 1161-1172.
Gage, N. (1978). The scientific basis of
the art of teaching. New York:
Teacher College Press.
Gregersen, T. S. (2003). To err is human: a
reminder to teachers of language-
anxious students. Foreign Language
Annals, 36(1), 25-32.
Hao, R. N. (2011). Rethinking critical
pedagogy: implications on silence
and silent bodies. Text and
Performance Quarterly, 31(3), 267-
Joseph, D. (2013). Moving to the rhythm of
Africa: a case study of a tertiary
educator’s understanding of
multicultural dance in teacher
education. Journal of Education and
Training Studies, 1(1), 129-138.
McNeil, L. (2012). Using talk to scaffold
referential questions for English
language learners. Teaching and
Teacher Education, 28(3), 396-404.
doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2011.11.005
Miramontes, O. B., Nadeau, A., &
Commins, N. L. (2011).
Restructuring schools for linguistic
diversity: Linking decision making to
effective programs. Language &
Literacy Series. New York, NY:
Teachers College Press.
Rennie, J., & Ortlieb, E. (2013). Diverse
literacy learners: Deficit versus
productive pedagogies. In E. Ortlieb
& E.H. Cheek, Jr. (Eds.), Literacy
Research, Practice, and Evaluation:
Vol. 3. School-based interventions
for struggling readers, K-8 (pp. 203-
218). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group.
Walsh, S. (2002). Construction or
obstruction: Teacher talk and learner
involvement in the EFL classroom.
Language Teaching Research, 6(3),
2-23. doi:10.1191/136268802lr095oa
Walsh, S. (2006). Talking the talk of the
TESOL classroom. ELT Journal,
60(2), 133–41.
Zembylas, M., & Michaelides, P. (2004).
The sound of silence in pedagogy.
Educational Theory, 54(2), 193-210.
Evan Ortlieb is the Course Leader & Senior
Lecturer in Literacy Education at Monash
University in Frankston, Victoria (Australia).
Dr. Ortlieb is the corresponding author on this
Guest Column and can be contacted at
Yusuke Sasaki is a doctoral student in TESOL
at Monash University in Frankston, Victoria
Student Insubordination, Discipline and Safety Journal of Contemporary Research in Education
Initiatives in Urban Schools 2(2&3) 53-67
Seunghee Han
Independent Researcher
Creating a safer and more orderly
school is a high priority and a challenge for
school administrators. School violence has
been a critical issue among policymakers
and stakeholders, yet little attention has been
paid to students’ insubordination. It is
because student insubordination has been
considered as minor offenses or nonviolent
behaviors (Kaufman, Jaser, Vaughan,
Reynolds, Di Donato, 2010; Shupe, 1998)
and may not threaten the safety of the entire
school. However, adequately dealing with
student insubordination should be the first
step in promoting school safety.
In the school settings, a considerable
number of school administrators and
teachers reported student insubordination as
a major problem in creating an orderly
school (Abebe & Hailemariam, 2007; Alley,
1990; Tidwell, Flannery, & Lewis-Palmer,
2003). A recent national report showed that,
during the 2009-2010 school year, about
five percent of schools disciplined students
for verbal abuse of teachers every day or at
least once a week (Robers, Zhang, &
Truman, 2012). These problems are more
frequent in urban schools; about 12 % and
nine percent of schools reported incidents of
students’ disrespectful acts and verbal abuse
of teachers, respectively (Robers et al.,
2012). During the 2007 -2008 school year,
on average, a school disciplined 88 students
for insubordination (Tonsager, Neiman,
Hryczaniuk, & Guan, 2010) and about
276,700 teachers and 145,100 teachers
reported being threatened with injury and
attacked by students, respectively (Robers et
al., 2010).
Student insubordination should not
be underestimated because it negatively
affects school climate and order. The current
study seeks school factors associated with
student insubordination and the findings
extend our knowledge about how to prevent
student insubordination. To date, little
attention has been paid to identifying school
factors of student insubordination in the
literature. At best, student insubordination
has been discussed as part of school
violence and/or discipline studies (Blake,
This study examines school factors associated with student insubordination in urban schools. Using
data from 1,493 public schools (School Survey on Crime and Safety 2007-2008), multivariate
regression analyses show that schools with more disadvantaged students (e.g., ethnic minority
students, underachievers, and special education students) tend to have more insubordination incidents
after controlling for violence incidents and school safety initiatives. Among school factors, perceived
school value and parental involvement are consistently and negatively associated with both the actual
number of incidents and principals’ perception of insubordination. Teacher training programs and
student-oriented crime prevention programs are associated differently with each type of student
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Butler, Lewis, & Darensbourg, 2010;
Kaufman et al., 2010; Raffaele Mendez &
Knoff, 2003). To better estimate the
associations between insubordination and
school factors, this study differentiated
student insubordination and students’ violent
behaviors against their peers. Thus, violent
incident was included in the multivariate
regression models as a control variable. In
addition, in the study, insubordination was
assessed in two different ways; actual
number of insubordination incident and
principals’ perceived student
insubordination (e.g., frequency of
disrespectful act for teachers and verbal
abuse of teachers). The reason for using a
different measure of insubordination is that
there may be gaps between actual student
problem behaviors and school staff’s
perception of problem behaviors (Akiba &
Han, 2007; Huss, 2007; Johnson, 2010;
Wade & Stafford, 2003). Finally, student
problem behaviors are more frequent in
urban areas (Mcloughlin & Noltemeyer,
2010; Robers, Zhang & Truman, 2012;
Smith, 2011), thus the study focused on
urban schools.
Literature review
Student Insubordination: Definition and
Student insubordination was defined
as disrespect, disobedience, verbal abuse,
intimidation, and even physical attack of
teachers or school staff (Neiman & DeVoe,
2009; Robers et al., 2012). Research has
shown multiple types of student problem
behaviors as insubordination in different
categories. In a study on discipline practices
(Kaufman et al., 2010), student problem
behaviors against school staff were
addressed as following: 1) the attendance
category - leaving the building without
permission and skipping detention, 2) the
aggressive category - physically threatening
the staff, physical and sexual harassment,
and verbally threatening the staff, and 3) the
disrespectful category - using profanity
towards the staff, general disrespect, and
lying. Similarly, defiance of adult authority
is defined as displaying obscenities, refusing
detentions, assaulting employees, giving
false names, being uncooperative, being
disrespectful, using profanities, cheating,
and disturbing classes (Grgory & Weinstein,
Research has demonstrated that
student insubordination is a frequent
problem behavior in the school setting
(Alley, 1990; Tidwell et al., 2003), and has
explored how schools discipline students for
insubordination and which factors are
associated with such behaviors.
Gregory and Weinstein (2008),
analyzing discipline referral record of one
urban high school during the 2002-2003
school year, found that “defiance of adult
authority” was the most common
disciplinary reason for suspension (67%; n
=1,207), and more than half of the defiance
referred (57%) were black students.
Similarly, Skiba at el. (2002) found different
patterns of student insubordination by race.
The researchers analyzed data of 4,461
students who were referred to the office for
a disciplinary reason at least one time during
the 1994-1995 school year and found that
black students tended to be referred to the
office for being disrespectful, making
excessive noise, loitering, and using threats,
whereas white students tended to be referred
to the office because of smoking,
vandalizing, using obscene language, and
leaving without permission (Skiba, Michael,
Nardo, & Peterson, 2002). Raffaele Mendez
and Knoff (2003) analyzed the data of 142
schools during the 1996-1997 school year
and found that students’ disobedience/
insubordination (20%), noncompliance with
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
assigned discipline (7%), and disrespect
(6%) were the most common reasons for
suspension of 15 different reasons. In their
study, it was noticeable that black male
students were more likely to be suspended
because of disobedience/insubordination
(28%), being disrespectful (32%), and
leaving class or campus without permission
(33%) than white male or Hispanic male
students. Consistently, Blake et al. (2010)
analyzed data of 9,364 female students in 44
schools in a urban school district and found
that black female students were more
frequent discipline recipients for
insubordination, being profane to adults and
expressing defiance than their white female
counterparts (Blake et al., 2010).
In summary, student insubordination
was a common disciplinary reason for office
referrals and suspension. In addition, black
students were more frequently disciplined
because of insubordination than their White
counterparts. The study expected that
schools with more ethnic minority students
would have more student insubordination
incidents than schools serving less ethnic
minority students.
Student Insubordination and School
Safety Initiatives
Schools have implemented
comprehensive crime prevention programs
for students, parents, and teachers. During
the 2009-2010 school year, a majority of
public schools (84% to 93%) offered
multiple programs to create a safer and
orderly school, such as behavior
modifications, interventions, mentoring and
tutoring opportunities, prevention
curriculums, promotion of social integration,
and a sense of community programs
(Neiman, 2011). Teacher training programs
have been emphasized for promoting an
orderly school because a teacher is the first
link to a student problem behavior in the
classroom setting (Lewis-Palmer, 1999;
Gregory & Weinstein, 2008). Depending on
a teacher’s quality of classroom
management and of relationship with the
students, student problem behaviors can be
dealt with in the classroom and be improved.
Research showed that if students perceived
their teachers’ care and high expectations for
them that those students tended to respect
more in the teachers’ authority.
Accordingly, those schools minimized the
discipline gap by race (Gregory &
Weinstein, 2008).
Regarding student-oriented crime
prevention programs, the School-Wide
Positive Behavioral Supports (SWPBS) is
one of the nationally-known programs. It
has been effectively implemented in schools
with fairly consistent expectations and
behavioral indicators across states (Lynass,
Tsai, Richman, & Cheney, 2012). In New
Hampshire, after implementing the Positive
Behavioral Interventions and Supports–New
Hampshire, more than 6,000 office
discipline referrals and more than 1,000
suspensions decreased during the 2003-2004
year and the 2004-2005 school year. The
researchers found that the program helped
considerably with saving time for more
learning, teaching and leadership (Muscott,
Mann, & LeBrun, 2008). In Iowa, positive
effects of SWPBS (e.g., reduction office
discipline referrals) were also observed in
the survey results of 72 schools from 2003
to 2006 (Mass-Galloway, Panyan, Smith, &
Wessendorf, 2008). In Texas, a school wide
positive behavior initiative resulted in
reduction of discipline referrals in middle
schools; three-year data from 2005 to 2008
showed more than 22% of reduction in
discipline referrals (Ruiz, Ruiz, & Sherman,
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Finally, parental involvement in
schools has been well-documented as a
strong predictor of school success for
students, both academically and
behaviorally (Jeynes, 2012; LeFevre &
Shaw, 2011; Sheldon & Epstein, 2002;
Stylianides & Stylianides, 2011). A meta-
analyses with 51 studies demonstrated that
parental involvement, such as
communication between parents and
teachers, checking of homework and sharing
of reading at home, is positively associated
with student academic achievement across
elementary and secondary school levels
(Jeynes, 2012). Frequent parent-child
interactions have a positive effect on
academic achievement in urban children
(Stylianides & Stylianides, 2011) and family
and community involvement in school
activities decreased discipline outcomes,
such as office referrals, detention and in-
school suspensions, after controlling for
previous rates of discipline (Sheldon &
Epstein, 2002).
These comprehensive safety
initiatives are expected to decrease violence
and to maintain school order. The present
study expected that student insubordination
may be decreased by trained teachers with
classroom management skills, discipline
practices, and greater knowledge over
positive behavior interventions. In addition,
student insubordination is expected to
decrease by promoting parental involvement
in schools and by providing student-oriented
crime prevention programs, such as
mentoring, counseling, or prevention
The Current Study
The current study attempted to
estimate the relationships between student
insubordination and school characteristics in
urban schools. Using the school-level data
set, descriptive statistics and multiple
multivariate regression analyses were
performed to address following research
questions. First, to what extent do urban
schools have student insubordination
incidents? Second, how are the different
discipline practices for student
insubordination implemented by school
level? And third, how is student
insubordination associated with school
factors, after controlling for violent incidents
and school characteristics?
The current study is a secondary
analysis of the School Survey on Crime and
Safety (SSOCS) 2007-2008. The SSOCS
data set has been collected every two years
since 1999 on behalf of the U.S. Department
of Education. The National Center for
Education Statistics (NCES) and the U.S.
Census Bureau developed and conducted the
survey which contained information about
school safety: crime prevention programs
for teachers, parents, students and
community, school security practices,
number and types of student problem
behaviors, disciplinary actions and school
backgrounds. Based on nationally
representative samples, a total of 3,367
questionnaire packets were sent to public
schools between February 25 and June 17 in
2008. With a 77.2% response rate, the
SSOCS 2007-2008 data was collected from
2,560 usable questionnaires (Ruddy,
Neiman, Hryczaniuk, Thomas, & Parmer,
2010). In the current study, the SSOCS
2007-2008 data was used as it was the most
recent data available to the public as of the
beginning of 2014. Finally, a total of 1,493
schools in urban and urban fringe were
selected for the study (see appendix A & B).
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Insubordination was assessed in
three different ways. First, school discipline
records of insubordination were used. In the
SSOCS questionnaire, insubordination was
defined as “a deliberate and inexcusable
defiance of or refusal to obey a school rule,
authority, or a reasonable order.”
Specifically, failure to respond to a call slip,
failure to attend assigned detention or on-
campus supervision, and physical or verbal
intimidation/abuse to school staff were
included in the questionnaire. Based on the
definition of insubordination, principals
were asked “During the 2007–08 school
year, how many students were involved in
committing the following offenses, and how
many of the following disciplinary actions
were taken in response?” and principals
responded with a number of each discipline
for insubordination: 1) expulsion, 2)
transfers to specialized schools, 3) out-of-
school suspensions lasting 5 or more days
and 4) other disciplinary actions (e.g.,
suspension for less than 5 days or detention).
Second and third measures of
insubordination (e.g., Disrespectful act and
verbal abuse of teachers) relied on
principals’ perception. Principals were
asked, “To the best of your knowledge, how
often did the following types of problems
occur at your school?” and principals
responded to students’ verbal abuse of
teachers and students’ acts of disrespect for
teachers. A scale of 5 was given: 1 =
Happens daily, 2 = Happens once a week, 3
= Happens once a month, 4 = Happens on
occasions, and 5 = Never happens. For the
analysis, each of reverse-coded variables
was used.
Violent incident was measured as the
actual number of violent incidents based on
principals’ report and it included physical
attacks/fights, robbery, gang, weapon and
sex-related offenses.
Teacher training programs were
measured whether the school or district
provided training programs for classroom
teachers or aides during the 2007 -2008
school year. Six items (e.g., classroom
management, discipline policies and
practices, safety procedures, and positive
behavioral intervention strategies) were
given. Principals responded yes = 1 or no =2
to each item and it was recoded as yes = 1
and no = 0. Student-oriented prevention
program was measured as principals
responses. Principals were asked whether
their school formally implemented violence
prevention programs (e.g., resolving student
behavior problems, behavior modification,
and counseling) to students. Given eight
types of programs, principals answered as
yes = 1 or no = 2 to each program, and those
were recoded as yes = 1 and no = 0.
Teacher training programs and student-
oriented prevention programs were used as
the sum of those responses, respectively.
Parental involvement was measured
using four items (e.g., open house, volunteer
and parent-teacher conferences). Principals
were asked “What is your best estimate of
the percentage of students who had at least
one parent or guardian participating in the
following events during the 2007 – 2008
school year?” Given four items, principals
responded as 1 = 0 to 25 percent, 2 = 26 to
50 percent, 3 = 51 to 75 percent, 4 = 76 to
100 percent, and 5 = school does not offer.
For the analyses, response 5 (school does
not offer) was excluded and the mean was
computed with a composite of parental
involvement in school events (Cronbach’s
alpha = .80).
School values, aspirations,
underachievers, limited English proficient
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
(LEP) students, and special education
students were measured based on principals’
report as of October 1, 2007. Principals
were asked to estimate the percentage of
current students who met the following
criteria. School value was assessed as a
percentage of students who valued academic
achievement. Aspiration was measured as a
percentage of students who were likely to go
to college after graduating high school.
Underachiever was estimated as a
percentage of present students who were
below the 15th percentile on standardized
tests. The percent of LEP students and
special education students were measured by
the principals’ report. Special education
students were defined based on the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Three variables of school
characteristics were also included in the
analyses: ethnic minority students, school
level, and school size. A proportion of
ethnic minority students have been well
demonstrated as a strong predictor of
problem behaviors (Skiba, Horner, Chung,
Rausch, May, & Tobin, 2011), and students’
insubordination more frequently occurs at
secondary schools than elementary schools
(Kaufman et al., 2010). In addition, school
size does matter; larger schools have more
insubordination cases when insubordination
is measured as a count. In the study, ethnic
minority students were defined as
black/African American, Hispanic/Latino,
Asian, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific
Islander, and American Indian/Alaska
Native students and assessed as a categorical
variable indicating 1 = less than 5%, 2 = 5%
to 20%, 3 = 20% to 50%, and 4 = more than
50%. School level was created as a dummy
variable indicating 1 = middle and high
schools and 0 = elementary schools.
Finally, school size was measured as a
number of enrolled students and included as
a categorical variable: 1 = less than 300, 2 =
300 to 499, 3 = 500 to 999, and 4 = more
than 1,000. Originally, those variables were
derived from the Common Core of Data
(CCD) that is an annual data set of the U.S.
Department of Education’s National Center
for Education Statistics. It contains
comprehensive information (both fiscal and
non-fiscal) of all public schools in the U.S.
Data Analysis
Descriptive statistics were used to
answer the first and second research
questions. Multivariate regression analyses
were performed to investigate the
relationships between student
insubordination and school characteristics.
In the multiple multivariate regression
models, three types of insubordination were
included as dependent variables: number of
actual insubordination cases, principals’
perceived disrespectful act/ verbal abuse of
teachers. Two variables (i.e.,
insubordination and violent incidents) were
measured as a count and each variable had a
positively skewed distribution. That is, most
schools have few insubordination/violent
incidents and a small number of certain
schools have many incidents. To increase
accuracy to estimating the associations in
multivariate regression models, these
variables were transformed using a base 10
logarithm. Results
Results of descriptive statistics for
the first research question “To what extent
do urban schools have student
insubordination incidents?” are presented in
Table 1 (see appendix). A total 146,157
discipline records for student
insubordination is reported by urban schools
in the 2007-2008 school year. On average, a
school has 97.89 discipline records for
student insubordination. Approximately, a
quarter of urban schools (n = 369; 24.72%)
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
has at least one discipline record for student
Figure 1 displays the results of the
second research question “How are the
different discipline practices for student
insubordination implemented by school
level?” Out of the total number of
insubordination incidents, high schools have
the most frequent insubordination incidents
(63.17%), followed by middle schools
(30.44%), elementary schools (5.08 %) and
combined schools (1.31%). Mostly,
discipline outcomes for insubordination are
detentions or suspensions for less than five
days, yet more than nine percent of
insubordination incidents results in severe
disciplinary actions, such as expulsion
(0.17%), transfer to a specialized school
(1.40%) and suspension more than five days
(7.53%). See Appendix A and B for details.
Figure 1. Percent of discipline outcomes for insubordination by
school level
Table 2 (see appendix) presents
results of multivariate regression analyses to
address the third research question “How is
student insubordination associated with
school factors, after controlling for violent
incidents and school characteristics?”
Multiple models display the associations
between each of three dependent variables
(e.g., actual number of insubordination
incident, perceived disrespectful act to
teachers and perceived verbal abuse of
teachers) and school factors.
The first two columns of Table 2
present the estimated associations between
insubordination cases and school factors,
after controlling for school characteristics.
Schools serving more ethnic minority
students (p <.001), more underachievers (p
<.001) and more special education students
(p <.01) tend to have more insubordination
cases, whereas schools with more LEP
students are less likely to have such
incidents (p <.001). In addition, schools
serving more students who value academic
achievement are less likely to have
insubordination (p <.001). The model 1
shows that school characteristics can
account for approximately 36% of the
variance of students insubordination
measured by school discipline record. When
we include three types of school safety
initiatives in the model, statistically
significant relationships between
insubordination and student-oriented
prevention programs, and parent
involvement reveal.
The second column of Table 2 shows
the relationships between different school
factors and students’ disrespectful acts to
teachers as measured by the principals’
perception. The results appear partly
consistent with the results of the first
column. Schools with more ethnic minority
students and underachievers tend to have
disrespectful acts from students to teachers
more frequently (p <.001) and schools with
more LEP students are less likely to have
such incidents (p <.001). In addition,
schools with more students who tend to go
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
to college and value academic achievement
are less likely to have incidents of
disrespectful acts towards teachers (p
<.001). Regarding safety initiatives, only
student-oriented prevention programs and
parent involvement are observed as
statistically significant and negative
predictors of students’ disrespectfulness to
teachers, after controlling for all other
school characteristics (p <.001). Both of the
two models in the second columns show that
school characteristics and having safety
initiatives can account for about 20% of the
variation of students’ disrespectful acts
toward teachers.
The third column of Table 2 shows
the associations between school factors and
students’ verbal abuse of teacher measured
by principals’ perception. Consistently,
schools serving more ethnic minority
students, underachievers, and special
education students seem more likely to have
incidents of students verbally abusing
teachers (p <.001), and schools with more
LEP students tend not to (p <.001). Again, if
schools have more students who tend to go
to college and value academic achievement,
those schools are less likely to have
incidents of students verbally abusing
teachers. However, mixed results are
observed in this model; while parental
involvement appears as a negative predictor
of verbal abuse of teachers (p <.001), yet
schools having multiple student-oriented
prevention programs tend to have more
frequent students’ verbal abuse of teachers
(p <.05). Both of the two models in the third
column show that school characteristics and
having safety initiatives can account for
about 28% of the variation of incidents
where students verbally abuse their teachers.
This study was conducted to
investigate to what extent urban schools
have student insubordination incidents and
which school factors are associated with
student insubordination. The following
conclusions can be drawn from the results of
the study.
First, the findings of the study
showed that more than 9% of
insubordination cases resulted in severe
disciplinary actions including more than
five-day suspensions, transferring students
to specialized schools, and even expulsion.
School administrators and teachers should
consider if these discipline methods are
effective for student insubordination issues.
The methods require students to leave and/or
change their learning environments, which
have negative effects on students’ academic
achievements (Anderson, Howard, &
Graham, 2007; Arcia, 2006; Brown, 2007),
they are also labeled by staff and peers
(Fenning & Rose, 2007; Mellard & Seybert,
1996), and many even drop out of school
(Jimerson, Egeland, Sroufe, & Carlson,
2000) . Research has shown that students’
defiance and inattention problems can be
more effectively disciplined in a humanistic
manner rather than in an authoritative
manner (Tulley & Chiu, 1995). Further,
severe punishments may cause more
frequent student insubordination (Way,
2011). Thus, having clearly established
school rules and expectations for students
would be helpful in preventing students’
insubordination and severe disciplinary
actions (Shupe, 1998).
Second, students’ values of school
appeared as an important predictor of all
three types of insubordination (i.g., actual
insubordination incidents, perceived
disrespectfulness toward teachers, and
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
verbal abuse of teachers). School
administrators and teachers should make an
effort to promote students’ perception of
importance in academic achievement.
Schools may develop more academic events
and encourage students to be involved in
them. Schools may emphasize recognition of
students’ academic accomplishment at the
school, district, state, and national levels
covering various subjects and activities (e.g.,
literature, mathematics, social studies, and
music, etc.). Based on the results, it can be
concluded that improving students’
perceived value of academic achievement at
school level may help decrease
insubordination from them.
Finally, parent involvement in school
events appeared as a significantly negative
predictor of all three types of student
insubordination across all multivariate
regression models. Parental involvement has
demonstrated its positive effects on school
success in numerous studies (Jeynes, 2012;
LeFevre & Shaw, 2011; Sheldon & Epstein,
2002; Stylianides & Stylianides, 2011) and
the current study supports the positive
effects in decreasing student
insubordination. It is possible that frequent
communication between schools and parents
improve students’ behaviors. That is, parents
clarify school rules and remind their
children or those rules and also encourage
them to respect school authority. Because
the results indicated that more than 60% of
student insubordination occurred at high
schools, high school administrators
especially should consider emphasizing
parents’ roles to decrease insubordination
Study Limitations
Although the findings of the study
help understand student insubordination
issues better, several limitations should be
cautioned. First of all, findings from a cross-
sectional data set do not determine causes
and effects among the associations. Second,
the study solely relied on data from
principals’ reports. Future studies should
examine this issue from teachers’ and
students’ views as well. Third, the study
attempted to take into account all potential
factors (e.g., number of violent incidents and
school background) that may influence the
associations between student
insubordination and school factors. Yet,
SSOCS public-use data do not contain
poverty as a variable. Although there is little
evidence ensuring the associations between
student insubordination and poverty, future
studies may include student socio-economic
statuses, such as lunch status, parent
education level, and/or family income.
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Table 1
Number of Insubordination Incidents in Urban Schools
N Min. Max. Sum
n S.D.
Schools with at least
one discipline for
insubordination (%)
7 369.00 (24.72)
Table 2
Associated School Factors of Student Insubordination in Urban Schools
Number of
Insubordination Incident
Disrespectful Act to
Verbal Abuse of Teacher
Model 1
B (SE)
Model 2
B (SE)
Model 1
B (SE)
Model 2
B (SE)
Model 1
B (SE)
Model 2
B (SE)
student (%)
education (%)
.001 (.001)
LEP (%)
Aspiration (%)
.000 (.000)
-.001** (.000)
School value
School level
.360** (.009)
School size
.008 (.007)
.018** (.005)
.013* (.005)
.558** (.011)
-.003 (.002)
.007 (
.008* (.003)
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Adjusted R
Note. A total of 1,493 samples were used for analyses. SE = standard error; LEP = Limited English
Proficient students; TT = teacher training programs; SCP = student crime prevention; PI = parental
involvement; School level refers to secondary school.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
Appendix A
N Min. Max. Sum Mean S. D.
Total number of students
involved in insubordination
Number of removals for
Number of transfers for
Number of suspensions for
Number other actions for
Note. SSOCS questionnaire assessed total number of students who were involved in insubordination
regardless of discipline outcomes. According to the data, 19,914 students (166,071-146,157) might not
receive any disciplinary actions for insubordination or received more severe disciplinary actions because
SSOCS record the most severe disciplinary action when a student was involved in multiple incidents.
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Appendix B
School level
Discipline outcomes for insubordination
Other disciplinary actions*
No disciplinary action
Other disciplinary actions
No disciplinary action
Other disciplinary actions
No disciplinary action
Other disciplinary actions
No disciplinary action
Note. Other disciplinary action included suspension with less than five days or detention.
An Investigation of Attitudes and Perceptions Journal of Contemporary Research in Education
Toward Inclusion: Comparing Preservice Teachers 2(2&3) 68-79
to First Year Teachers
Nancy E. Douglas
University of Mississippi
Jerilou J. Moore
University of Mississippi
Kevin B. Stoltz
University of Central Arkansas
Until recently, general and special
education services were provided in two
separate and distinct settings with different
teachers and instructional strategies. As part of
the 2004 reauthorization of Individuals with
Disability Education Act (IDEA, 2004), the first
educational placement for all students, including
those with disabilities when appropriate, is
mandated as the general education classroom.
The federally mandated change requires that
students with disabilities (diverse students) be
educated in the general education classroom and
exposed to the same curriculum as general
education students. Thus, general education
teachers are now required to provide educational
experiences to all students, including those with
disabilities, within the framework of the new
federal mandates.
According to Stodden, Galloway, and
Stodden (2003) with the directive for the Least
Restrictive Environment (LRE), teachers are
vested with the responsibility of teaching
students with disabilities, even though they may
have little or no preparation in addressing those
students’ individual needs or assisting them with
standards-based criteria. In addition, school
districts that implement full inclusion in district
schools expose preservice teacher candidates to
the diversity of the general education classroom
even though they may have little preparation to
work with students with disabilities (Sze, 2009).
These practices, along with the federal mandate,
suggest that teachers may need additional
training to prepare for full inclusion.
Additionally, teacher education programs may
need to develop curricular experiences that
prepare preservice teachers to meet the needs of
Over the last decade, the federally mandated “push” for full inclusion has changed the
dynamics of general education classrooms to the extent that teachers no longer feel adequately
prepared to teach. Teacher preparation programs are vested with the responsibility to prepare
preservice teachers so they can provide a learning environment that meets the federal mandate of
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). A lack of preparation may affect the pre-service teachers’
attitude and perception of students with disabilities in a general education classroom. The purpose of
this quantitative cross-sectional study was to explore preservice and first year teacher beliefs about
preparation concerning inclusion classrooms. The results indicate that attitudes toward inclusion are
moderately correlated with candidates or teachers efficacy beliefs about teaching in an inclusion
classroom. Additionally, results include a drop in efficacy of teaching in an inclusion classroom with
first year teachers. Implications are presented for consideration in training teachers for inclusion
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
all students. According to Burke and Sutherland
(2004) this will require much more knowledge,
experience, and expertise to provide appropriate
accommodations and related services to help
students with disabilities reach their full
potential in a general education classroom.
Along with classroom changes for
inclusion (e.g., configuring the room to improve
the learning environment, and actualizing
positive behavior planning and support in the
classroom; Obiakor, Harris, Mutua, Rotatori, &
Algozzine, 2012) there are expanded
responsibilities for general education teachers
(e.g., making time for special education training,
adapting and modifying programs, and
collaborating with special education teachers;
Doorn, 2003). Studies (Burke & Sutherland,
2004; Doorn, 2003; Jobling & Moni, 2004;
Jung, 2007) indicate that general education
teachers may not possess the attitudes, or
professional preparation needed to meet the
expanded responsibilities of teaching in an
inclusive classroom. Although professional
development for in-service teachers remains a
prominent approach in preparing for inclusion,
increased emphasis is being placed on the roles
and responsibilities of teacher preparation
programs to prepare new educators for teaching
in inclusive settings (Van Laarhoven, Munk,
Lynch, Bosma, & Rouse, 2007).
Current research (Boling, 2009;
Bradshaw & Mundia, 2006; Fajet, Bello,
Leftwich, & Mesier, Shaver, 2005) suggests that
preservice teacher candidates and teachers report
they are not prepared professionally with the
knowledge and skill for an inclusion classroom.
Several issues have been identified that may add
to this view of a lack in professional preparation
[e.g. lack of field experience with students that
have disabilities (Campbell, Gillmore &
Cuskelly, 2003; Richards & Clough, 2004); the
need for specialized skills and knowledge of
teaching in an inclusion classroom (dual
certification) (Ford, Pugach, & Othis-Wilborn,
2001; Hadadian & Chiang, 2007; Jenkins,
Pateman, & Black, 2002; Shippen, Crites,
Houchins, Ramsey, & Simon, 2005),; preservice
teachers’ preconceived attitudes and perceptions
toward inclusion (Jobling & Moni, 2004; Jung,
2007; Palmer, 2006); and confidence and
teaching self-efficacy levels of in-service
teachers and preservice teacher candidates
(Berry, 2010; Campbell et al., 2003; Palmer,
2006; Sari, Ceiloz & Secer, 2009)]. Better
understanding of these issues is imperative to
helping change teacher education programs and
produce teachers who are more equipped to
provide effective educational experiences in an
inclusion environment. The purpose of this study
was to measure preservice teacher candidates’
and first year teachers’ attitudes toward
inclusion and teacher self-efficacy for inclusion
practices.. Additionally, we sought to investigate
relationships between these constructs and to
explore teaching self-efficacy of inclusion
practices in candidates and first year teachers.
Teacher Preparation
Teacher preparation institutions have the
opportunity to influence the way preservice
teacher candidates are prepared for 21st century
classrooms (Campbell, et al, 2003; Forlin,
Loreman, Sharma, & Earle, 2009; Jenkins,
Pateman, & Black, 2002; Richards & Clough,
2004; Strayton & McCollum, 2002). Inclusion
mandates are causing teacher education
programs to examine the way curriculum is
designed to assist teacher candidates in meeting
the needs of all learners in the classroom. In
many teacher education programs, the preservice
teacher candidates choose between elementary
education, special education, and secondary
education with very little integration or
overlapping of classes between the program
areas, especially, in the program field
experience. Many universities are struggling
with the need to revise their curricula and
Douglas et al.
pedagogy to better prepare teacher candidates
for inclusion requirements (Forlin, Loreman,
Sharma, & Earle, 2009). A study by Sze (2009)
measuring preservice teachers’ attitudes toward
inclusion exposed a possible connection between
attitudes and teaching performance. She
determined that a preservice teacher with a
positive attitude toward inclusion, and who has
been trained in the appropriate skills and
knowledge needed for an inclusive classroom,
should have successful academic outcomes for
all students.
Preservice Teachers Attitudes, Perceptions,
and Self-Efficacy of Inclusion.
Preservice teacher candidates’ attitudes
and perceptions toward inclusion can influence
the success of an inclusion classroom (Berry,
2010). These candidates come into the field of
education with a variety of values and attitudes
based on their own k-12 experiences and other
social influences. With the changing
requirements concerning inclusion, these
previous experiences and social influences may
have a negative effect on preservice teacher
candidates’ perception of teaching students with
disabilities. Outcomes in inclusion classrooms
are more positive when the teachers possess
attitudes toward working with students that have
disabilities (Burke & Sutherland, 2004). Burke
and Sutherland credit the positive attitude with
contributing to the overall success of an
inclusion program. Jobling and Moni (2004)
found that research on preservice teacher
candidates’ perception of inclusion was
inconclusive, but stated that measuring the
perceptions and attitudes of preservice teacher
candidates toward inclusion is a starting point
for redesigning teacher education curricula to
enhance effective instruction in an inclusive
general education setting.
Jung (2007) stated that along with
changed attitudes and perceptions of inclusion,
preservice teacher candidates need to increase
their confidence levels and self-efficacy when
dealing with special needs students. Hoy (2000)
found that preservice teachers’ self-efficacy was
strong during their student teaching experience,
but when they transitioned into their own
classroom, these first year teachers experienced
a drop in teaching self-efficacy. Hoy’s results
indicated that this drop was accompanied by a
feeling of inadequacy toward teaching students
with special needs. A study by Richards and
Clough (2004) found that preservice teacher
candidates reported feeling prepared for an
inclusion classroom until they actually started
teaching; when they recounted a lack of skills
needed to meet the needs of all the learners. This
literature indicates that teacher candidates may
benefit from additional exposure to skill
building experiences focused on knowledge,
skills, and dispositions concerning inclusion
classrooms. In addition, according to Berry,
teacher candidates’ attitudes toward inclusion
may influence the self-efficacy of the teacher
leading to increased or decreased overall
teaching efficacy.
The challenges associated with the
implementation of the mandate for inclusion in
public schools led us to conduct a study using
preservice teacher candidates and first year
teachers measuring inclusion self-efficacy and
teacher efficacy. The purpose of this study is to
explore the relationship between attitudes and
self-efficacy, and compare preservice teacher
candidates’ to first year teachers’ on these two
The sample participants used for this
quantitative cross-sectional study were senior
preservice teacher candidates in the areas of
elementary and secondary education that
graduated in May 2013, and first year teachers
that graduated in May 2012, from a four-year
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
public research institution in the southeastern
United States. We used a convenience sampling
method for choosing participants for this study.
The participants consisted of women (n= 76)
and men (n=15), with an average age (26 years-
The Sentiments, Attitudes, and
Concerns about Inclusion Education - Revised
(SACIE-R; Forlin, Earle, Loreman, & Sharma,
2011) measures preservice teachers’ perceptions
on three constructs of inclusive education. The
SACIE-R includes a demographic section which
is comprised of six questions: gender, age,
highest qualification obtained, prior contact with
individuals with a disability, previous training in
the area of students with disabilities, and amount
of experience teaching students with disabilities
(Forlin, Loreman, Sharma, & Earle, 2009). The
second portion of the instrument directs
respondents to indicate answers to questions
(e.g., I am concerned that students with
disabilities will not be accepted by the rest of the
class; I am concerned that it will be difficult to
give appropriate attention to all students in an
inclusion classroom) on a 4-point Likert scale
(i.e., Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree,
Strongly Agree).
There are three psychometric constructs
measured by the SACIE-R that are relevant to
aspects underlying a teacher’s beliefs and
support of inclusive education (Forlin et al.,
2011). The first construct is the sentiments scale
(S), which is the sentiment or comfort level
when engaging with people who have a
disability. The attitudes scale (A) represents
teacher’s outlook or willingness toward having
students with disabilities included in a general
classroom setting. The final scale, concerns (C),
represents the implementation or adaptation of
teaching strategies to meet the educational needs
of students with disabilities.
The original Sentiments, Attitudes, and
Concerns about Inclusive Education scale
(SACIE; Loreman, Earle, Sharma, & Forlin,
2007) was tested using factor analysis with (n =
996) preservice teachers from five institutions.
A revised version, SACIE-R, was developed by
Forlin, Earle, Loreman, and Sharma (2011). The
revised version was tested using a four-stage
process: Stage 1 was the initial review and
consisted of a sample of (n = 297) preservice
teachers from four institutions in three countries
Canada, Australia, & Singapore) and the
province of Hong Kong
; Stage 2 consisted of
testing the revised scale which included the
removal of 4 items followed by testing with a
different sample of (n = 227) preservice teachers
from three institutions in Hong Kong, Australia,
and Singapore; Stage 3 included another minor
revision and further testing with (n=186)
preservice teachers from Canada and Hong
Kong; and Stage 4 was the final validation study
using the 15-item, three-factor scale with (n =
542) preservice teachers from 9 institutions and
four countries. These studies demonstrated
consistent loadings on the specified factors
indicating empirical support for the construct
validity of the scale.
In SACIE-R validation study (Forlin,
Earle, Loreman, & Sharma, 2011), the reliability
coefficients (Cronbach’s alpha) resulted in the
subscales of Sentiments (.75), attitudes (.67),
and concerns (.65) with a combined scale (.74)
indicating acceptable internal consistency
reliably of the instrument. Results from the
present study revealed internal consistency
reliability coefficients (Cronbach’s alpha) of
Sentiments (.65), Attitudes (.63), Concerns (.68),
and a total scale coefficient of (.78) again
indicating marginally acceptable internal
The Teacher Efficacy for Inclusive
Practice Scale (TEIP; Sharma, Loreman, &
Forlin, 2012) measures perceived teacher
Douglas et al.
efficacy to teach in an inclusive classroom. The
TEIP consists of 18 items representing three
factors. The factors are: Efficacy in Using
Inclusive Instruction (EUII), Efficacy in
Collaboration (EC), and Efficacy in Managing
Behavior (EMB) (Sharma et al., 2012). The first
scale, EUII, measures individual perceptions for
the ability to use inclusion instruction in
classrooms. The second scale, EC measures the
individual’s perceptions of abilities to consult
with parents and other professionals. Factor
three; EMB measures self-perceptions of skills
and abilities to respond to disruptive behaviors
in the classroom. Participants respond to
questions (e.g., I can make my expectations
clear about student behavior; I can accurately
gauge student comprehension of what I have
taught) using a six-point Likert scale (1 =
strongly disagree; 2 = disagree; 3 = disagree
somewhat; 4 = agree somewhat; 5 = agree; 6 =
strongly agree).
This instrument was created using an
exploratory factor analysis on 26 items to
establish the factors (Sharma et al., 2012). Of
the original 26 items, 18 met criteria for
inclusion in the scale. The 18-item scale was
developed from a sample of (n = 609) preservice
teachers selected from three countries (Australia,
Canada, and India) and the province of Hong
Kong. Inter-correlations used to identify items
that were highly correlated (>.80). Also, items
that loaded on more than one factor were
deleted. Three factors accounted for 64.5% of
the variance. Alpha coefficients were; total
scale (.89), EUII (.93), EC (.85), and EMB (.85)
(Sharma et al., 2012). Internal reliability
analysis indicated good internal consistency
reliability for the scale. Internal consistency
reliability results from the present study were:
total scale (.92), EUII (.83), EC (.75), and EMB
Forty-six survey packets were given to
University Supervisors to distribute to the
student teacher candidates that included
elementary (n=37) and secondary (n=9)
education majors. Forty survey packets were
returned (n=31 elementary; n=9 secondary) with
a response rate of 86.9%. According to the
Instructional Assessment Resources (2011) an
acceptable response rate for this type of survey
administration is anything greater than 50%.
The response rate of 86.9% is well above the
acceptable range.
To collect first year teacher data, 132
surveys were emailed using the online software
program, Qualtrics (Qualtrics, Provo, UT). Of
these, 56 surveys were attempted, with 51
surveys completed. This is a 37.5% response
rate. The acceptable response rate for on-line
surveys is 30% per the Instructional Assessment
Resources (2011). Therefore the response rate
of 37.5% exceeds this minimum threshold.
Data Analyses
To explore the use of the SACIE-R and
the TEIP with this sample we first tested the
means of our samples to the population
parameters. Next we explored relationships
between these two constructs. Finally, we tested
for differences between the two groups
(preservice teacher candidates, first year
teachers) using scores from each set of scales.
A one-sample t-test was used to
compare the mean population parameter to the
combined sample of preservice teacher
candidates and first year teachers for the
Sentiments Scale of the SACIE-R (µ=10.584).
A significant difference was found, (t(90) =
4.681. p = .000 with the sample mean
=16.088) being significantly higher than the
population mean. The same test was conducted
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
to compare the sample mean for the Attitudes
Scale to the population parameter (µ = 14.317).
There was a significant difference found, t(90) =
-3.778, p = .000 with the sample mean
=13.40) being significantly less than the
population mean. For the Concerns Scale one-
sample t-test, the population value (µ = 13.0805)
was used. There was a significant difference
found, t(90) = -1.694, p = .094 again, showing
the sample mean (
= 12.83) significantly less
than the population mean.
Population parameters for the Teacher
Efficacy for Inclusive Practice (TEIP) Scale was
compared to a study done by Peebles (2012)
using a one sample t-test on the sample of
student teacher candidate (n=141) for the EUII
(µ = 25.87). A significant difference was found,
t(39) = 12.149. p = .000 with the sample
=31.65) being significantly higher than the
population mean. The same test was conducted
to compare the sample mean for the EC to the
population parameter (µ = 25.94). There was a
significant difference found, t(39) = 9.52, p =
.000 with the sample mean (
=30.48) being
significantly higher than the population mean.
For the EMB one sample t-test, the population
value (N = 24.54) was used. There was a
significant difference found, t(39) = 8.57, p =
.000 again, showing the sample (
significantly higher than the population mean.
For analyzing the relationships among
the variables we used bivariate correlations. The
results indicated that all variables related
significantly except for the correlation between
attitudes (SACIE-R) and efficacy towards
inclusion (TEIP) (Table 1). The only
correlation not showing a significant relationship
was the Attitudes Scale and Efficacy in
Managing Behavior Scale.
The final analysis consisted of an
ANOVA to compare groups (level of teacher) by
mean scores of the SACIE-R and the TEIP. The
results (Table 2) indicated no differences
between teacher groups on the SACIE-R.
However, there were significant differences
between groups on the scores of the TEIP.
Effect Size
The results of the between groups effect
size includes; Sentiments Scale, .0022; Attitudes
Scale, .0031; and Concerns Scale, .0039; EUII,
.1542; EC, .1428; and EMB, .0897. Based on
Cohen’s (1988) interpretation, there is small to
little effect noted in the results.
The purpose of this study was to explore
relationships among the variables to demonstrate
that attitudes toward inclusion and teacher self-
efficacy concerning inclusion practice are
related. Additionally, we investigated changes in
teacher self-efficacy reported in previous
research (Freytag, 2001; Hoy, 2000; Palmer,
The results of the correlation analysis
demonstrated that scores on the SACIE-R and
TIEP were related in this sample. These
significant relationships underscore that when
teacher candidates or first year teachers believe
that children with disabilities should be included
in regular classrooms (Attitudes), their
perceptions of self-efficacy for inclusion
practices are higher. There were also two
positive relationships with the Sentiments scale.
Those teacher candidates or first year teachers
that indicated comfort with being around
individuals with a disability (Sentiments) also
scored higher on the EUII and EC scales for
inclusion practices. There was not a significant
correlation with the EMB scale indicating that
managing behavior in the classroom is not
related to a teacher’s sentiments about being
around students with a disability. In essence, a
teacher may not need to have positive sentiments
to feel comfortable managing a classroom that
Douglas et al.
includes students with a disability. Additionally,
the Concerns scale was significantly related to
all the scales on the TEIP. Again, this indicates
that those teacher candidates and first year
teachers with higher concerns about students
with disabilities being accepted by the class, or
concerns about the teacher’s own abilities to
meet the added workload and provide
appropriate attention to all students, also
demonstrate higher amounts of self-efficacy for
inclusion practices. This result indicates that an
overall consciousness toward students with a
disability may promote confidence in working
with students that have a disability.
In the second analysis, we compared the
teacher candidate’s scores of self-efficacy for
inclusion practices to those of the first year
teachers. The results showed a decline in self-
efficacy for inclusion practice in the first year
teachers. This is consistent with previous studies
(Campbell, et al., (2003); Hoy, 2000; Palmer,
2006) and demonstrates that when teachers
begin working in a full inclusion classroom
without a dual certification (special education
accompanied with specific grade level training)
these teachers may experience a drop in self-
efficacy. According to the National
Commission on Teaching and America’s Future
(2007), up to 50% of teachers leave the
profession within the first five years. Richards
and Clough’s (2004) study found that most
preservice teacher candidates believe they are
prepared for an inclusive classroom until they
actually start teaching and then they experience
self-doubt toward their ability to help all
students succeed. Additionally, Johnson (2006)
states that we lose teachers due to poor working
conditions and lack of proper instruction for the
large achievement gap found in today’s
The findings of this study do provide
specific insights, yet these are limited by
specific constraints. The sample was small and
limited to one university. Additionally, the
sample was selected based on convenience.
These sample characteristics limit the
generalizability of the study. Additionally, the
use of a cross-sectional design does not account
for possible differences in self-efficacy of the
two samples (teacher candidates and first year
teachers). Future researchers may focus on
longitudinal designs to test for developmental
differences with teachers concerning self-
efficacy for inclusion practices.
Finally, inclusion is a reality for general
classroom teachers. Teacher candidates come to
the profession with attitudes, sentiments, and
concerns that may influence their overall self-
efficacy toward teaching in an inclusion
classroom environment. The results of this study
suggests that teacher preparation program may
need to address teacher candidate dispositions
toward inclusion practices to better prepare
teacher candidates for the reality of the general
classroom environment.
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Nancy E. Douglas is an Assistant Professor of
Education in the Teacher Education Department
at the University of Mississippi. She teaches
Special Education, Reading, and Mathematics.
Her research focuses on teacher beliefs, efficacy,
and dispositions concerning inclusion of
students with disabilities in a general education
classroom. Dr. Douglas is the corresponding
author on this article and can be contacted at .
Jerilou J. Moore is an Associate Professor of
Education in the Teacher Education Department
at the University of Mississippi. She teaches
Reading, Technology, Language Arts,
Differentiated Instruction, and the Arts. Her
research interests are focused on methodology
and modeling theory to practice.
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Kevin B. Stoltz is an Associate Professor in the
Department of Leadership Studies at the
University of Central Arkansas. His areas of
research interest include, career development
and counseling, teacher career development, and
quantitative research methods. Kevin has
published in national and international journals
regarding, career development and counseling.
He also serves on the editorial board of several
journals and is chair of the research committee
for the National Career Development
Douglas et al.
Table 1: Correlation Between SACIE-R and TEIP Scales
Note. Sentiments = Sentiments Scale, Attitudes = Attitudes, Concerns = Concerns Scale, EUI = Efficacy
in using inclusion, EC = EMB= Efficacy in managing behavior. *Correlation is significant at the .05
level. **Correlation is significant at the .01 level.
Table 2 – ANOVA Table
N Mean Std.
95% Confidence
Interval for Mean
F Sig.
Bound Upper
Attitudes Scale ST 40 13.4000 2.01023 12.7571 14.0429 .275 .601
FYT 51 13.6225 2.00772 13.0579 14.1872
Sentiments Scale ST 40 16.2000 2.38800 15.4363 16.9637 .196 .659
FYT 51 16.0000 1.91833 15.4605 16.5395
Concerns Scale ST 40 12.8250 2.74458 11.9472 13.7028 .346 .558
FYT 51 12.5294 2.05283 11.9520 13.1068
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Efficacy in
Inclusion ST 40 31.6500 3.00896 30.6877 32.6123 16.220 .000
FYT 51 *28.7333 3.72380 27.6860 29.7807
Efficacy in
Collaboration ST 40 30.4750 3.01269 29.5115 31.4385 14.822 .000
FYT 51 *27.9216 3.23631 27.0113 28.8318
Efficacy in
ST 40 30.0250 4.04771 28.7305 31.3195 8.774 .004
FYT 51 *27.4706 4.11025 26.3146 28.6266
Note. * = statistically significant difference
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Improving Preservice Teachers’ Knowledge of Journal of Contemporary Research in Education
Response-to-Intervention (RTI): 2(2&3) 80-93
How Online Professional Development Modules Can Help?
Nai-Cheng Kuo
Georgia Regents University
Response-to-intervention (RTI) is known
as a multi-level prevention and intervention
approach (National Center on Response to
Intervention, 2013). With the support of the
federal lawsthe No Child Left Behind Act
(NCLB, 2002) and the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004)—more
than 60% of K-12 public schools nationwide are
currently implementing RTI.
To prepare teachers for implementing RTI,
there are several government-sponsored online
professional development programs available for
public use. For example, the IDEA ’04 and
Research for Inclusive Settings (IRIS) Center,
sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education,
Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP),
has developed several modules about RTI.
Although over 470,000 teachers and teacher
educators have participated in online learning
through IRIS, there is little empirical research to
support its impact on preservice teachers. To fill
the gap in this literature, this study examined
how effective IRIS modules are for improving
preservice teachers’ knowledge of RTI.
Literature Review
Response-to-Intervention (RTI)
Typically, RTI is represented by a three-
tiered triangle model with Tier 1 represented as
green, Tier 2 as yellow, and Tier 3 as red (See
Figure 1). According to leading RTI scholars
(e.g., Fuchs and Fuchs, 2006), all students
receive differentiated instruction and evidence-
based instruction provided by general education
teachers in Tier 1. It is expected that Tier 1 can
meet 80 to 85 percent of students’ needs in
general classes [the percent is slightly different
in different RTI models]. Students who do not
appropriately respond to Tier 1 instruction will
be provided with more intensive, strategic and
evidence-based interventions within small
groups in Tier 2. Depending on school budgets
and resources, Tier 2 can be conducted by
general education teachers who have been
trained in RTI or conducted by intervention
specialists (e.g., subject specialists,
paraprofessionals, Title I teachers, or special
education teachers) within or outside the general
classroom. It is expected that approximately 10
to 15 percent of students who do not adequately
Response-to-intervention (RTI) is “a multi-tier approach to the early identification and
support of students with learning and behavior needs” (RTI Action Network, 2014). RTI began to be
recognized around 2004, when the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was
reauthorized. In the midst of a national movement toward increasing uses of RTI, the development of
knowledge of RTI for preservice teachers who will be engaged in its implementation is of high
importance. This study examined the impact of a set of online professional development modules—
IRIS modules—on preservice teachers’ knowledge of RTI. Many federal dollars have been invested
in the IRIS Center and these modules have been widely used. Yet, little is known about the learning
outcomes for preservice teachers in response to these modules. A total of 55 preservice teachers
enrolled in a special education teacher preparation program at a large Midwest public university
participated in the study. Each participant spent approximately 20 hours on completing eight assigned
modules. The results indicate that the experimental group performed significantly better than the
control group on the RTI-Reading Knowledge Assessment, providing evidence that the intervention
was beneficial. Implications and limitations of using online professional development modules are
respond to Tier 1 instruction should make
appropriate progress in Tier 2. Those who still
fall significantly behind their peers will be
provided with the most intensive interventions in
Tier 3, which are tailored to meet the specific
needs of students (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006).
Figure 1. A typical RTI model
The IDEA ’04 and Research for Inclusive
Settings (IRIS) modules
As of 2013, the IRIS Center has developed
a total of 53 modules for public use. These
modules are categorized into different topics by
the IRIS Center, including accommodations,
assessment, assistive technology, behavior and
classroom management, collaboration, content
instruction, differentiated instruction, disability,
diversity, learning strategies, math, leadership,
response-to-intervention (RTI), and so on. Some
modules are overlapped across topics. Each
IRIS module consists of five components which
are designed based on the evidence-based cycle
of a learning theory created by Dr. Bransford
and his colleagues (Bransford, Brown, &
Cocking, 1999).
Challengea realistic scenario
relevant to education professionals
Initial Thoughtsquestions that
allow students to explore and
consider what they currently know
about the scenario presented in the
Perspectives and Resources
nuggets of information (e.g., text,
movies, audio interviews, activities)
that allow students to actively
engage in learning the module's
main content
Assessmentan evaluation tool that
offers students the opportunity to
apply what they know and to
evaluate what topics they need to
study further
Wrap Upa summary of the
information presented in the
previous components
(IRIS, 2013a)
According the IRIS Center, a field test data
was collected from a total of 1,744 preservice
teachers. The majority of the preservice teachers
were in general education (71.7%); the others
were in special education (9.5%), counseling
(2.5%), psychology (0.9%), and other areas of
study. The results show that “the majority of
students responding to the survey felt they had
learned something from the module,” and “most
respondents rated the module as being of high
quality and relevant” (IRIS Center, 2013b).
Furthermore, another two IRIS module
studies were conducted during the 2004-2005
and 2005-2006 academic years. In the first
study, a total of 620 students were assigned to a
module group and a non-module group,
respectively. The study was to examine the
participants’ performance on the Initial
Thoughts questions (as a pretest instrument) and
on the Final Thoughts questions (as a posttest
instrument). The responses were scored. “To
perform well, students would need to apply
content that was covered by the text and/or the
module” (IRIS Center, 2013b). The results
indicated that “the average posttest score for
students who viewed the module was
significantly higher than for students who did
not” (IRIS Center, 2013b). In the second study, a
total of 480 students were assigned to an
Independently Viewed group and the Instructor-
Enhanced group. Both groups received multiple-
choice and open-ended questions. The results
show that “although students did gain in their
factual knowledge about self-regulation [in both
conditions], more involvement by the instructor
did not result in enhanced performance” (IRIS
Center, 2013b).
Tier 1
(Green Area)
Tier 3
(Red Area)
Tier 2
(Yellow Area)
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
While some of the other modules
continue to be embedded in coursework in
different universities, and instructors and
students consider the modules to be practical and
helpful (e.g., Rodriguez, Gentilucci, & Sims,
2006; Smith et al., 2005), there are limited
experimental or quasi-experimental studies that
used a set of IRIS-RTI modules. Therefore, this
study attempted to provide information about
what the participants’ actual performance was
after using eight assigned IRIS modules.
Preservice Teacher Online Learning
Online approaches to teacher
preparation have become an important issue in
two- and four-year institutions. University
professors in general education often integrate or
infuse special education issues through online
learning modules or web-based distance
education (Smith, Smith, & Boone, 2000). Smith
and his colleagues’ (2000) quasi-experimental
study showed that although preservice teachers
performed equally well in traditional and online
instructional settings, online learning provided
“ongoing access to instruction in a flexible
accessible environment,” which offers “potential
advantages to student comprehension and
ongoing application across teacher preparation
curricula” (Smith, Smith, & Boone, 2000, pp.
Another benefit of online learning is that it
can help teacher educators understand preservice
teachers’ reflective thinking through embedded
media, such as videodisc cases (Abell, Bryan, &
Anderson, 1998). Smith and his colleagues
(2000) pointed out that because online learning
provides more comfortable space for preservice
teachers to express their thoughts, teacher
educators can observe their students’ reflections
through online learning.
A similar technique was also found in the
IRIS modules’ Initial-and-Final Thoughts
questions. Because there is little research
addressing preservice teacher learning related to
online learning through a set of IRIS modules,
there is a need to continue studies in this area.
The participants of the present study
included juniors, seniors, and interns who were
enrolled in a special education teacher
preparation program at a large Midwest public
university. Of 140 enrolled students, 81 students
(58%) voluntarily participated in this study. All
participants completed the written consent forms
prior to participating in the study, and they all
completed a pre-assessment before the
intervention of the modules. The majority of the
participants were white (90%) and female
Based on the results of the RTI-Reading
Knowledge Assessment (the instrument will be
introduced later), the 81 participants were
grouped into a control group and an
experimental group. The participants were
stratified into three subgroups: juniors, seniors,
and interns. The reason for the stratification was
to ensure that both the control group and the
experimental group had an equal (or close to
equal) number of juniors, seniors, and interns, so
the impact from the coursework should have
been similar. The participants were then
randomly assignment into a control
(comparison) group and an experimental group.
In the end, 40 participants were assigned to the
control group (including 13 juniors, 21 seniors,
and 6 interns) and 41 participants were assigned
to the experimental group (including 13 juniors,
22 seniors, and 6 interns).
Data Collection Procedures
Each participant was asked to spend two to three
uninterrupted hours on each module; eight
modules were assigned. All participants were
provided a navigation video clip developed by
the IRIS Center. After completing all the
modules, the participants were given a post-
assessment. This study adopted ANGEL, an
online management system that assisted the
researcher in collecting, monitoring, and
analyzing the data. One sample of the ANGEL
web pages used in this study is shown in Figure
2 (following reference pages). Because all
modules were provided online, there was no risk
related to the differences of interventions across
Pre- and post-assessment instruments.
The RTI-Reading Knowledge Assessment,
consisting of 66 Teacher Knowledge Survey
(TKS) test items, 29 IRIS test items, and 25
Literature test items, was used for the pre- and
post-assessment instruments. The TKS,
developed by Dr. Louise Spear-Swerling and her
colleagues, has been tested multiple times and
the results have been published in peer-review
journals (Spear-Swerling and Cheesman, 2012).
The TKS includes questions in three areas: RTI,
assessment, and the five components of reading.
The Cronbach’s alpha indicated that the test
items of TKS were internally consistent and had
high reliability (Spear-Swerling and Cheesman,
2012). With the permission of Dr. Spear-
Swerling, the 66 TKS test items were used in the
present study.
In addition to the TKS test items, the
IRIS module open-ended questions were turned
into multiple-choice questions as part of the pre-
assessment instrument to investigate the
participants knowledge of RTI prior to the
intervention. When turning the IRIS modules
open-ended questions into multiple-choice
questions, it was more likely that the participants
would complete the pre-assessment within two
to three hours. These multiple-choice questions
may not test exactly what each initial IRIS
module open-ended question intended to test.
However, these questions could still provide an
initial understanding of the participants
knowledge of RTI before they received the
intervention of the study.
Furthermore, 25 questions, involving
essential knowledge related to RTI, such as
cultural diversity (Donovan & Cross, 2002;
Klingner & Edwards, 2006; Orosco and
Klingner, 2010; Rinaldi & Samson, 2008; RTI
Action Network, 2014) and teacher quality
(Cochran-Smith, 2003; Brownell, Sindelar,
Kiely, & Danielson, 2010; Fenstermacher &
Richardson, 2005; Fuchs, Fuchs, & Compton,
2012; Murawski & Hughes, 2009) were
developed. By including the TKS and Literature
questions, the RTI-Reading Knowledge
Assessment assessed participants’ knowledge of
RTI more comprehensively.
The 54 multiple-choice questions (29
IRIS test items and 25 Literature test items)
were reviewed by three writing consultants at a
university writing center, using Wollacks
(2003) criteria to examine each of these
multiple-choice questions. The criteria include:
Each item should be concise
and uncomplicated.
The answer to each question
should be really correct and
not just the best answer among
all options.
Each item should be
independent from other items,
so the examinee cannot get the
answer from the alternatives
of another item or from the
Each item should have only
one objective to avoid being
misunderstood by the
Questions should use positive
statements and avoid trickery.
Two university faculty members who
were knowledgeable about RTI also critically
reviewed these questions. Changes and
adjustments were made based on discussions.
For the pre-assessment (n = 81), Cronbach’s
Alpha indicated that the internal consistency of
the pre-assessment items within each sub-area
(TKS, IRIS, and Literature) was adequate. The
internal consistency was .828 for TKS, .762 for
IRIS, and .710 for Literature. The RTI-Reading
Knowledge Assessment is available upon
Pre- and post-survey questionnaires.
The pre-survey questionnaire collected
information about the participants’ demographic
characteristics. The post-survey questionnaire
used a Likert scale with sixteen questions to
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
obtain descriptive data related to social validity
for the intervention. The sixteen questions are
presented in the result section where
participants’ acceptability and satisfaction with
the intervention are reported.
Data Analysis
Pre- and post-assessment instruments.
The paired t-test, independent t-test, and
multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA)
were conducted for the within-group comparison
and the between-group comparison regarding the
pre- and post-assessment outcomes.
Pre- and post-survey questionnaires.
A hierarchical multiple regression analysis was
conducted to examine the relationships between
the participants’ demographic characteristics and
their assessment scores.
Table 1 (see Appendix) summarizes
how data was collected and analyzed to address
the research questions of this study.
Intervention and Comparison Conditions
After taking the online pre-assessment,
the participants in the experimental group
completed eight IRIS modules related to RTI-
Reading assigned in a designated order. The
modules used in the experimental group were
under the topic of RTI as grouped by the IRIS
Center. The control group completed another
eight IRIS modules assigned by the researcher.
The modules used in the control group met two
selection criteria. First, they were not under the
topic of RTI grouped by the IRIS Center.
Second, they did not have a focus on RTI in the
academic domain of reading interventions.
Except for using different modules, the
comparison conditions were exactly the same as
the intervention conditions. Because the control
group also received a treatment just like the
experimental group did, they could still improve
their knowledge through the modules, but that
was not attributable to the actual intervention.
The modules used for the experimental group
and for the control group were shown in Table 2
(see Appendix).
Equivalence Examination Before the
An independent t-test was run to
examine whether the control and experimental
groups were equivalent in terms of their mean
scores on the pre-assessment. A t value of .549
(p = . 584) indicated that there was no
significant difference between the control group
and the experimental group. That is to say, the
two groups were equivalent for the purpose of
this study. Furthermore, a t value of .294 (p = .
772) indicated that there was no significant
difference between the juniors’ mean scores in
the control group (n = 13) and in the
experimental group (n = 13). A t value of .272 (p
= . 787) indicated that there was no significant
difference between the seniors’ mean scores in
the control group (n = 21) and in the
experimental group (n = 22) ; and a t value of
.792 (p = . 448) indicated that there was no
significant difference between the interns’ mean
scores in the control group (n = 6) and in the
experimental group (n = 6). In short, the control
group and the experimental group, including the
subgroups, were equivalent.
Attrition refers to the dropout of
participants from a study. In this study, there
were 55 participants who completed the study
(completion rate: 68%). A review of the email
messages from the participants who decided to
withdraw from the study indicated that the
dropouts were not due to factors that were
directly related to the study. These participants
explained that because of other obligations that
had come up, they could not complete the study
as they had planned. Although the dropouts
seemed not to cause any validity issues for the
study, it is still important to know whether the
dropouts had any significant impact on the initial
equivalence status. Therefore, an independent t-
test was used to evaluate the equivalence.
A t value of 1.469 (p = .150) with an
effect size of .70 indicated that there was no
significant difference between the remaining
participants’ (n = 29) and the dropout
participants’ means (n = 11) in the control
group; and a t value of 1.857 (p = . 071)
indicated that there was no significant difference
between the remaining participants’ (n = 26) and
the dropout participants’ means (n = 15) in the
experimental group. In addition, a t value of .726
(p = .471) indicated that there was no significant
difference between the remaining participants in
the control group (n = 29) and in the
experimental group (n = 26). The results showed
that the control group and experimental group
remained equivalent after attrition.
Research Question 1: Participants’
Performance on the RTI-Reading Knowledge
According to the ANGEL user matrix
records, more than 90% of the participants spent
approximately 20 hours on completing eight
assigned modules in three weeks.
Approximately 10% of the participants spent a
month on completing the eight modules. On
average, each participant spent 2.5 hours on each
Cronbach’s Alpha indicated that the
internal consistency of the post- assessment
items within each sub-area were adequate. For
the post-assessment (n = 55), the internal
consistency was .885 for TKS, .820 for IRIS,
and .733 for Literature.
The paired t-test was conducted to
examine if there were statistically significant
differences between the participants’
performance on the pre- and post-assessment in
the experimental group (n = 26). The t value of
5.155 (p = . 000) with an effect size of . 82
revealed that the experimental group’s post-
assessment outcomes were significantly higher
than their pre-assessment outcomes. An
independent t-test was conducted to examine if
there was any significant difference existing
between the two independent groups’ post-
assessment outcomes. The t value of 2.032 (p =
.047) with an effect size 1.19 revealed that the
experimental group’ post-assessment outcomes
were significantly higher than the control group’
post-assessment outcomes, providing evidence
that the intervention was beneficial.
To avoid the accumulation of Type I
errors from using a t-test, a repeated measures
MANOVA test was conducted to test the
intervention effect on the experimental group’s
and control group’s knowledge of RTI. The
results showed that there was a significant
difference in terms of time (pre vs. post) and
group (experimental vs. control) in the
participants’ knowledge of RTI, F(3, 51) =
8.147, p = .000, η2 = .324, observed power =.
987. Univariate tests further indicated that there
was a significant intervention effect on the IRIS
test items, F(3, 51) = 18.948, p = .000, η2 = .263,
observed power = .990. However, there was no
significant intervention effect on the TKS test
items F(3, 51) = .251, p = .619, η2 = .005,
observed power = .078 and on the Literature test
items F(3, 51) = .162, p = .689, η2 = .003,
observed power= .068. The results, as seen in
Table 3 (see Appendix) showed that the
experimental group outperformed the control
group, particularly on the IRIS questions, after
the intervention.
Research Question 2: Predictors and
Participants’ Post-Assessment Outcomes
The results of the hierarchical multiple
regression revealed that the variable “group
(experimental vs. control)” contributed
significantly to the regression model, F(1, 32) =
4.050, p < .05) and accounted for 7.2% of the
variance in the post-assessment outcomes.
Introducing the variable “prior knowledge (pre-
assessment score)” explained an additional
42.6% of the variance in the post-assessment
outcomes, and this change was significant, F(1,
51) = 23.324, p < . 001. Adding the variable
“GPA” to the regression model explained an
additional 6.1% of the variance in the post-
assessment outcomes, and this change was
significant, F(1, 50) = 21.128, p < . 001. In
short, the three independent variables (i.e.,
group, GPA, and prior knowledge) were
significant predictors of the post-assessment
outcomes, and all together they accounted for
55.9% of the variance in the post-assessment
outcomes. The results of the regression statistics
are reported in Table 4 (see Appendix).
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Research Question 3: Fidelity of
Social validity questionnaires provided
information about the participants’ acceptability
and satisfaction with the intervention that they
had received. Table 5 (see Appendix) shows the
participants’ satisfaction with the modules.
The participants in the experimental
group rated the questions that were related to the
RTI-Reading modules as more relevant. This
might be due to the fact that they were assigned
to work on the modules related to RTI-Reading
intervention. They rated the questions that were
related to the behavioral intervention modules as
less relevant. It is likely this has resulted from
the fact that they were not assigned to work on
any modules that were related to the behavioral
intervention. In contrast, the participants in the
control group rated the questions that were
related to the behavioral intervention modules as
more relevant. It is likely that such responses
emerged due to the fact that they were assigned
to work on the modules that were related to the
behavioral intervention. Consistent with the
results found in the experimental group, the
participants in the control group rated the
questions that were not related to the modules
assigned to them as less relevant. In sum, the
participants were satisfied with the modules they
received regarding the improvement of their
Although there were statistically
significant differences between the responses of
the participants in the two groups related to RTI-
Reading and behavioral intervention questions,
there were no statistically significant differences
in the questions related to teacher quality, high-
quality reading instruction, and participants’
confidence in using RTI.
Summary and Discussion
Previous research on IRIS modules
mainly used self-report data, learning outcomes
from one single module, or one single-group
with a pretest-and-posttest designed to address
the impact of IRIS module (Montrosse, 2012;
Rodriguez, Gentilucci, & Sims, 2006; Smith, et.
al, 2005). While such research methods are
meaningful and important in the educational
field, there is a need to have empirical data to
compare and contrast with the existing literature.
Additionally, unlike self-report data, in which
participants tend to report positively on their
beliefs, knowledge, and abilities (Cook &
Campbell, 1979), this quasi-empirical study
provided information about what the
participants’ actual improvement was after the
intervention. It is important to note that although
the participants significantly improved their
knowledge of RTI after the intervention,
whether they can actually implement RTI is an
empirical question in future studies.
In addition, there are external factors that
can contribute to a person’s progress after an
intervention. Without a control (comparison)
group, previous research on IRIS modules may
not be able to determine whether a user’s
progress results from the intervention itself or
results from other factors. This study included
both within-group comparison data and
between-group comparison data, thereby adding
a more robust design to explore whether the
IRIS-RTI modules could serve as an
intervention tool to improve preservice teachers’
knowledge of RTI.
The average mean score for the
experimental group on the post-assessment
showed that the experimental students got 56%
of the questions correct on the post-assessment,
and the greatest growth in knowledge about RTI
was in those questions developed based on the
content from the IRIS modules. While it is not
surprising that participants showed little
improvement on questions that were indirectly
or absent in the assigned IRIS modules, there is
ample room for the improvement of teacher
preparation programs regarding preservice
teachers’ knowledge of RTI, given the fact that
their mean scores on the post-assessment of the
TKS test items and Literatures test items were
still low. Moreover, the results implied that one-
time exposure to the assigned modules might not
be sufficient to help the participants get familiar
with the topic. Thus, allowing time to re-revisit
these modules is needed.
Suggestions for teacher preparation
programs using IRIS modules are addressed in
the following. First, regarding the learning
objectives of the classes, when teacher educators
identify preservice teachers’ strengths and
weaknesses based on the results of pre-
assessment(s), they can assign appropriate
modules to assist individual students’ learning.
Second, teacher educators can provide sub-
assessments, including both pre- and post-
assessments, for each module. These sub-
assessment questions can be developed based on
the assessment questions or Initial-and-Final
Thought questions embedded in each module.
Next, teacher educators can debrief individual
students’ progress before and after taking the
modules to inform their instruction. These
procedures will help preservice teachers build
solid knowledge of RTI through the assistance
of IRIS modules.
In conclusion, the IRIS modules have
been widely used in teacher preparation
programs in the United States and around the
world. Recent publications in the field of special
education recommend IRIS modules as a high-
quality online resource for teacher preparation
programs (Billingsley, Israel, & Smith, 2011).
While these modules provide important
resources in helping preservice teachers
understand RTI, examining the impact of IRIS
modules through a comprehensive assessment
measure is highly recommended because it can
help teacher educators understand if the modules
selected are sufficient to help preservice teachers
build solid knowledge of a specific area. In the
midst of a national movement toward increasing
uses of RTI, the development of knowledge of
RTI for preservice teachers who will be engaged
in its implementation is of high importance. This
study could inform teacher preparation programs
using IRIS modules. Future studies could
additionally examine the impact of IRIS
modules on teaching practice and use mixed
models of IRIS modules, including stand alone,
IRIS + lecture, and IRIS tied to field-based
Limitations of the Study
There were several areas in the research
design that could have been strengthened. First,
internalized knowledge could have been
assessed through a follow-up assessment using
all or a portion of the RTI-Reading Knowledge
Assessment one to two months after the
conclusion of the study. The time demands of
the intervention made this impractical for this
group of participants. Second, the sample size of
the present study was still considered to be small
(n = 55). Thus, examining the RTI-Reading
Knowledge Assessment with a larger sample size
in future studies is recommended. Finally,
because it was difficult for the participants of the
study to complete all 53 IRIS modules, only
eight IRIS modules related to RTI in the domain
of reading interventions were used for the
present study. It is possible that the participants
would have performed better on the RTI-
Reading Knowledge Assessment if they also
completed all other IRIS modules. However, due
to the fact that each module takes users
approximately 2.5 hours to complete and some
overlapping modules across topics, it was
meaningful to examine if the eight IRIS modules
related to RTI in the domain of reading
interventions could help preservice teachers
understand RTI and reading interventions. If not,
the other modules may be spread out throughout
their teacher preparation programs in different
courses, such as literacy methods and cultural
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Nai-Cheng Kuo is an Assistant Professor of
Special Education at Georgia Regents
University. Her research interests include
response-to-intervention (RTI), literacy, autism,
and teacher preparation. Dr. Kuo can be
contacted at .
Figure 2. The ANGEL web pages – Module 1 (as an example). Note. The text is meant for visual
reference only. This figure helps readers see how the ANGEL web pages look like in the present study.
Each web page has seven icons to represent different components of the module.
Table 1: Profile of ID people who received CBR services
Variable/ ID Borderline ID Mild ID Moderate ID Severe ID Profound ID
(IQ>70) (IQ 69-50) (IQ 49-35) (IQ 34-20) (IQ<20)
Tribal 1(0.38%) 42(16.0%) 57(21.7%) 5(13.3%) 5(1.9%)
Non-Tribal 4(1.5%) 37(14.1%) 43(16.4%) 28(10.7%) 10(3.8%)
Female 3(1.1%) 39(14.9%) 46(17.5%) 31(11.8%) 5(1.9%)
Male 2(0.8%) 40(15.3%) 54(20.6%) 32(12.2%) 10(3.8%)
Socio Economic Status*
Very Poor 0(0.0%) 30(11.5%) 36(13.7%) 28(10.7%) 3(1.1%)
Poor 2(0.8%) 35(13.3%) 43(16.4%) 20(7.6%) 5(1.9%)
Middle 3(1.1%) 12(4.6%) 19(7.2%) 14(5.3%) 6(2.3%)
Upper 0(0.0%) 2(0.8%) 2(0.8%) 1(0.38%) 1(0.38%)
Parent Education
None 1(0.38%) 58(22.1%) 80(30.5%) 52(19.8%) 9(3.4%)
Primary 0(0.0%) 12(4.6%) 4(1.5%) 1(0.38%) 0(0.0%)
Middle school 3(1.1%) 6(2.3%) 8(3.0%) 4(1.5%) 0(0.0%)
High School 1(0.38%) 1(0.38%) 0(0.0%) 5(1.9%) 3(1.1%)
Bachelor 0(0.0%) 2(0.8%) 8(3.0%) (0.38%) 3(1.1%)
Table 2: Major outcome of the CBR at the 9th year of the program
Variable/ ID Borderline ID Mild ID Moderate ID Severe ID Profound ID
(IQ>70) (IQ 69-50) (IQ 49-35) IQ 34-20) (IQ<20)
No 1(0.38%) 25(9.5%) 81(30.9%) 63(24.0%) 15(5.7%)
Yes 2(0.8%) 54(20.6%) 18(6.9%) 0(0%) 0(0%)
Disability Certificate
No 0(0%) 14(5.3%) 17(6.4%) 6(2.3%) 0(0%)
Yes 5(1.9%) 65(24.8%) 83(31.6%) 57(21.7%) 15(5.7%)
Parent Training
No 2(0.8%) 13(4.9%) 24(9.1%) 15(5.7%) 4(1.5%)
Yes 3(1.1%) 66(25.1%) 76(29.0%) 48(18.3%) 11(4.1%)
Journal of Contemporary Research in Education 2(2&3)
Table 3
The Independent Samples Statistics of the Pre- and Post-Assessments
Group N Mean Std. t Sig. Cohen’s
Pre-Assessment (TKS)
.668 .507 0.18
Post-Assessment (TKS)
.961 .341 0.26
Pre-Assessment (IRIS)
.482 .632 0.13
Post-Assessment (IRIS)
4.427 .000*** 1.19
.830 .410 0.22
Post-Assessment (Literature)
1.083 .284 0.29
Note: Some missing values were found in the control group. One participant in the control group only
completed 62 questions; the other participants in the control group all completed the RTI-Reading
Knowledge Assessment. These missing values were coded as “exclude cases analysis by analysis.” No
missing value was found in the experimental group. The significant levels were at .05 (*) and .001 (***),
Table 4
Summary of Hierarchical Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Post-Assessment Outcomes
Variable Beta t R R
Change F
Step 1
Group (exp. vs. control)
Step 2