The influence of mentoring on beginning general education teachers providing instruction to students with disabilities

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching and Leadership


Joseph B. Shedd


General education, Disabilities, Beginning teachers, Mentoring

Subject Categories

Special Education and Teaching | Teacher Education and Professional Development


The purpose of my study was to examine the perceptions of beginning general education teachers and their mentors regarding the influence of mentoring in assisting first-year teachers who provide instruction to students with disabilities. My goal was to examine this little understood dynamic and add to the current knowledge base around mentoring.

The study was organized to provide the argument of importance for conducting the research, a literature review, a description of my research methodology, discussion of findings, and a discussion of conclusions, implications for practice, and limitations and implications for further research.

The general research method for dissertation study of the central research question was qualitative. Data were collected through two separate interviews of six beginning general education teachers and their mentors. A total of 24 interviews was conducted. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, analyzed, and coded. A qualitative review of documents associated with participating districts' special education, inclusion, mentoring programs, and policies was also conducted.

From the perceptions of mentor and mentee research participants, I found that mentors support and assist mentees to address both specific and more general concerns regarding instruction of students with disabilities. I also found that participating mentors and mentees perceived that influence to be minimal to moderate in most cases. I found school context and mentor-mentee relationships to be significant factors of influence regarding beginning teachers providing instruction to students with disabilities. Further, I found mentor influence in this area to be mediated by perceptions of other factors including: the mentor role; mentor-mentee relationships; perceptions of assistance; preservice and inservice coursework and experience in providing instruction to students with disabilities; beliefs which mentors and mentees hold regarding inclusion; and the context of schooling.

I found beliefs of mentors and mentees regarding inclusion to be generally positive. I concluded that preservice and staff development experiences of mentors and mentees were lacking with regard to providing research participants with knowledge, skills, and dispositions for providing instruction to students with disabilities. Based on my findings, I recommend several areas for future research.


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