Harris, Lindsay N.
Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations (LEPF)
The purpose of this dissertation was to produce two manuscripts and a conference paper reporting on analyses of data from a survey that investigated the knowledge, beliefs, and self-perceptions of 236 teachers of students who are blind or visually impaired (TSBVIs) with regard to literacy instruction. The first manuscript investigated the linguistic awareness and dyslexia beliefs of TSBVIs, and the relation of these factors to demographic characteristics and teacher training. With regards to linguistic awareness, results indicated no association with the number of courses TSBVIs had taken on teaching reading to students who are blind or visually impaired, highest degree obtained, or years of experience as a TSBVI. With regards to the accuracy of dyslexia beliefs, results indicated no association with the number of reading courses taken or highest degree. However, the accuracy of dyslexia beliefs increased significantly with years of experience.
The second manuscript assessed TSBVIs’ perceived reading teaching abilities and whether these perceptions are related to their training, teaching experience, or linguistic awareness. With regards to the number of reading-teaching courses, results indicated a positive association with TSBVIs’ perceived reading-teaching ability. However, years of teaching experience was not correlated with perceived reading-teaching ability. Perceived reading-teaching ability was associated with two subcomponents of linguistic awareness but was higher than warranted by TSBVIs’ demonstrated knowledge.The third section of this dissertation is a conference proposal, which assessed the perceived ability of TSBVIs to identify and support students with reading disabilities and whether their perceptions are related to their training, teaching experience, or dyslexia beliefs. Regarding TSBVIs’ perceptions about identifying and supporting students with visual impairments, findings revealed no association with the number of reading-teaching courses they took or their years of experience in the field. Additionally, the accuracy of dyslexia beliefs was not associated with TSBVIs’ perception of their ability to identify and support students with or at risk for a reading disability.
Taken together, the findings from this series of project suggest that, as with general-population teacher preparation, TSBVIs’ teacher preparation is not strongly geared toward fostering linguistic awareness, and TSBVIs do not typically acquire linguistic awareness through experience in the field. A heightened understanding of visual anatomy and physiology may increase TSBVIs’ resistance to the misconception that dyslexia arises from visual perception difficulties. However, it is concerning that nearly a quarter continue to believe that a significant reason for dyslexia-caused difficulties is visual problems. Years of experience working with students who are blind or visually impaired seems to be the best safeguard against this misunderstanding. Presumably, repeated encounters with students whose reading difficulties are unrelated to their visual difficulties convince TSBVIs of the language-based nature of dyslexia. Moreover, their self-perceived ability for teaching reading and identifying and supporting students with visual impairments was not associated with training and experience variables.
Gul, Nosheen, "Knowledge to Support Reading and Writing Among Teachers of Students Who Are Blind Or Visually Impaired" (2021). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 7086.
Northern Illinois University
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