University of Vermont

The Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI)

Paraeducator Supports:

A study of essential characteristics of paraeducators who work with students with severe/profound cognitive and/or multiple disabilities

Walters-Remaly, Melinda Ann (2003). A study of essential characteristics of paraeducators who work with students with severe/profound cognitive and/or multiple disabilities.

Institution: Loyola University of Chicago

THE FOLLOWING ABSTRACT IS POSTED WITH THE WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to determine what administrators and teachers perceive as being essential characteristics among paraeducators who are considered effective when working with students with severe/profound cognitive and/or multiple disabilities. It was also the purpose of this study, based on those essential characteristics, to address the implications for interviewing, hiring, and training paraeducators to work with the more severely impaired student population. Descriptive statistics were employed to analyze the results of two parallel surveys that were designed to solicit the perceptions of both administrators and teachers. Data was collected from one hundred ninety-four teachers and fifty-seven administrators from special education districts within Cook, Lake, and DuPage Counties in Illinois. This study determined that there is consistency in belief among teachers and administrators regarding the ten characteristics of paraeducators considered most essential for working with students with severe/profound disabilities. These characteristics were generated from the survey categories of "personality traits", "interpersonal style" and "work style" and did not include any characteristics from the categories of "instructional/behavior management" or "education level". Teachers and administrators generally agreed as to which characteristics they believe can be trained and which can not. Additionally, there was consistency among teachers and administrators that the training most needed for paraeducators who work with students with severe/profound disabilities is a "district orientation, specifically for paraeducators" with additional training that focuses specifically on the population or program to which they will be assigned. Findings from this study also demonstrate a relationship between the perceived effectiveness of a paraeducator and the perceived adequacy of their training. Related data from this study suggests that administrators clearly do not believe that paraeducators are adequately trained when they begin their employment, while teachers were split in their opinions. Additional data suggests that teachers and administrators believe that poor salary is the primary reason for paraeducator attrition. The findings from this research generated implications for policies regarding the practices for interviewing, hiring, and training paraeducators to work with students with significant disabilities as well as recommendations for future research.

Last modified February 14 2008 11:23 AM

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