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Special Thinking in Special Settings:A Qualitative Study of Expert Special Educators

Special Thinking in Special Settings:A Qualitative Study of Expert Special Educators

Abstract

Researchers have suggested that educating learners with special needs entails particular cognitive skills and that teachers make differential judgments about students with disabilities (Bartelheim & Evans, 1993; Bay & Bryan, 1991; Blanton, Blanton, & Cross, 1994). In this study, a stimulated recall procedure was used to examine the instructional decision making of 19 expert special educators. Qualitative analysis of the data indicated that a highly detailed and extensive knowledge base about students enabled these teachers to (a) assess their students' academic and emotional states of mind and (b) effectively address the students' needs within the classroom. The authors suggest that what is central to effective special education instruction is the knowledgeable, reflective, and concerned responsiveness of teachers to individual students.
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