Statement of the Problem Example
Introduction. Imagine you are teacher in a Specials classroom and several students in the class have a disability. Can the student with visual impairments see the homework on the board? Can your students who use a wheelchair change from group to group? What about your student with Autism who only communicates through a communication keyboard? Can you and the other students understand that student’s contributions to class discussion?
For Specials teachers, like Art, Music, and Physical Education, making adjustments to the different needs of their students is a fact of life. There is a range of different assistive technologies that are used in the Special Education classroom that other teachers must be familiar with and must feel comfortable using on a daily basis. It is necessary to explore how Specials teachers feel about their ability to use this technology to facilitate learning.
Research Problem. Specials teachers may not have the adequate training that will allow them to use this technology in the classroom. Also, Specials teachers that have not graduated from college recently may not be familiar with the latest technology that is available for students with disabilities (Woods, 2008). The problem may be compounded when a Specials teacher graduates from college without the proper training in assistive technology for students with disabilities.
Justification. Special Education teachers must be aware of assistive technologies so that they are able to advocate for their students when they recognize a need. When an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is being created, the specialized instruction that is required for the student may carry over into other classrooms. If that teacher is unable to suggest certain technologies that may help that student to succeed, the student has lost out due to teacher ineptitude.
Specials teachers that rate themselves as having low competency for computer based assistive technologies may have trouble adding data to a student’s Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), creating and maintaining a website that students who are unable to attend class regularly can access, load text materials into a Braille or voice conversion system, or even adapt classroom activities to accommodate a student with technological dependence. This specialized instruction in often mandated in the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which is a document that teachers are legally bound to adhere to.
Deficiencies. Many studies explore the different factors of this problem. Researchers write on the newest assistive technologies available for cognitive impairments (Kirsch, 2004). Education experts research how Physical Education teachers feel about using technology in the classroom and investigate ways to make it more pervasive (Woods, 2008). But research needs to explore the feelings of competency of these Specials teachers. They may have their needs go unmet in the face of funding. The flood of sleek new computers, voice modulators, Braille text converters, and navigation devices has left teachers scrambling to keep up. Qualitative research needs to be done to examine how the number of years of teaching experience affects use of technology. Interviews of these teachers need to be conducted so that their voices can be heard about what services and training they are lacking.
Audience. Through these qualitative research methods, the need for assistive technology training for students learning to be Specials teachers at the post-secondary level will be illustrated. Administrators at colleges and universities will be informed about how their recent graduates feel after they have just entered the field. Do they feel equipped to utilize the latest classroom technology? And school board members and school administrators will know what their Specials teachers are saying about what funding is needed and what technology trainings are needed.