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Faculty Attitudes and Practices Regarding Students with Disabilities: Two Decades After Implementati... - page 11 / 67





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in several similar investigations. Specifically, data from this study have shown that personal contact with individuals with disabilities was associated with increased knowledge of teaching accommodations, available services, and of disability legislation, as well as with willingness to spend more time in making needed adaptations. This finding is consistent with previous research showing a relationship between personal contact and attitudes defined as faculty level of comfort and/or willingness to provide accommodations (Aksamit et al., 1987; Fichten et al., 1988; Fonosch & Schwab, 1981; Satcher, 1992) and between contact and knowledge of disabilities, legislation, and services (Aksamit et al., 1987). Regarding the variable of gender, some inconsistent findings were obtained. Male faculty indicated that they had more teaching experience with some groups of students with disabilities and expressed an overall stronger willingness to provide accommodations than did female faculty. On the other hand, female faculty indicated that they had more training in the area of disabilities, more knowledge of legislation, and expressed more willingness to participate in additional training. The question as to why more extensive previous training and increased knowledge among female faculty were not translated into a stronger willingness to make needed accommodations is difficult to answer. Several previous studies have also shown that female faculty held more favorable attitudes and had more knowledge about disabilities (Aksamit et al., 1987; Baggett, 1994; Fonosch & Schwab, 1981). Leyser (1989), however, found that male faculty more than female faculty indicated that they had made accommodations in their classes. Comparisons among academic divisions showed that faculty iin the College of Education as compared to faculty in other academic divisions reported having more experience with individuals with disabilities as well as more training and knowledge about disabilities. They also expressed a stronger need for additional training. Other investigators have found that faculty in education held positive attitudes toward integration of students with disabilities into college classrooms (Fonosch & Schwab, 1981) and were more willing to provide accommodations (Nelson et al., 1990). Results regarding faculty rank (a variable not extensively investigated in past studies)revealed some inconsistent data. Faculty who usually have more years of teaching experience than lower ranking faculty reported, as expected, that they had more teaching experience with some groups of students with disabilities and had more knowledge of services on campus. They were, however, less familiar with recent disability legislation. Instructors, on the other hand, indicated that they spent more time making accommodations for students with disabilities and expressed a stronger interest in additional training than did higher ranking faculty.

The follow-up part of this 1996 study comparing the responses of faculty in the College of Education to those obtained in the previous 1985 study revealed some mixed results. While a greater number of faculty in the present study reported having no personal experience with individuals with disabilities than faculty 10 years ago, they also noted having a large amount of experience. Indeed, more faculty in 1996 study indicated having experience with coworkers, friends, and family members with disabilities. It was surprising to find that more faculty in 1985 than in 1996 reported having teaching experience with students with disabilities. This response may have been an outcome of a greater sensitivity resulting from two deans' grant initiatives. These grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the College of Education to design and implement a preservice training program in mainstreaming for regular education majors

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