Pre-service teacher preparation for managing behavior problems in the general education classroom

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Special Education

First Committee Member

Jeanne Schumm - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to examine general education pre-service teachers' knowledge, skills, and dispositions for dealing with behavior problems in the elementary classroom. Nineteen pre-service teachers participated in individual interviews concerning their perceptions of their preparedness to deal with overall classroom management as well as the needs of students with behavior problems. A knowledge test and supervisor observation reports were additional data sources used to triangulate interview data. The investigation focused on four areas including pre-service teacher: (1) knowledge of characteristics of behavior disorders and strategies for dealing with behavior problems; (2) skills for implementing strategies; (3) dispositions to implement strategies; and (4) perceptions of barriers and facilitators to the implementation of strategies for decreasing problematic behaviors.Results indicated that the pre-service teachers perceived themselves as prepared in regard to knowledge and skills for overall classroom management. They did not, however, perceive themselves as knowledgeable or skillful in managing students with problematic behaviors. The pre-service teachers perceived themselves as being disposed to implement strategies to manage problematic behavior, but had difficulty recognizing when they needed to alter strategies that they were using or use different strategies.While both classroom management and inclusion courses were perceived as facilitating the knowledge and skills of the pre-service teachers, the pre-service associate teaching experience was seen as the greatest facilitator and preparation experience for both classroom and behavior management and for the inclusion of students with exceptional learning needs. The majority of the pre-service teachers placed in diverse classrooms felt prepared to include students with exceptional learning needs with the exception of behavior disorders. The discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for teacher education programs and future research.


Education, Elementary; Education, Special; Education, Teacher Training

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