This phenomenological study examined the lived experiences of special education teachers who worked in inclusive settings. Given the increasing number of students with disabilities receiving special education services in the general education classroom (U.S. Department of Education, 2016), there is a critical need to understand the dynamic role of a special education teacher who works in inclusive settings. Federal mandates have required special education teachers working in inclusive settings to rethink their roles (McLeskey, Landers, Hoppey, & Williamson, 2011) and restructure their approach to providing specially-designed services. Further, these roles are dependent on those who interpret and implement policy and access to finite resources. This study used a phenomenological research method to examine the roles and responsibilities of special education teachers. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven participants (N = 7). A thematic analysis resulted in five overarching themes. The five themes included: (a) supporting students with disabilities within a support facilitation model; (b) role ambiguity of the special education teacher; (c) the lack of roles and responsibilities of the special education teacher within the MTSS framework; (d) the changing role of collaboration and communication; and (e) the challenges impacting the inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education setting. This study exposed the multiple facets of school and district policies that directly affected special educators' roles and responsibilities, as well as the emergence of a new role as a support facilitator.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Education; Exceptional Education
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Slanda, Dena, "Role Ambiguity: Defining the Elusive Role of the Special Education Teacher Who Works in Inclusive Settings" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5563.