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- Parental Perception of Satisfaction and Understanding of Special Education Services
- The purpose of this study was to examine the satisfaction and understanding of parents of young children with disabilities in North Texas in regard to the special education services they receive through their local education authority. A mixed non-experimental research design utilizing the survey method was used to obtain the data collected from a sample of 230 parents with children with disabilities from preschool to elementary ages. Factorial analysis techniques were first used to assess the validity of the 14 quantitative items by splitting the sample into 2 equivalent groups: the development group and the validation group. Exploratory factor analysis extracted 2 factors after eliminating 4 items: satisfaction and understanding. This 2-factor structure was confirmed in the validation group. The final 10-item survey demonstrated satisfactory reliability and validity. Overall, parents were very satisfied with the special education services and reported a good understanding of those services. Two x two (number of children x years of services) ANOVAs were used to examine the differences on parental satisfaction and understanding. No statistically significant differences were found except that parents with 2 or 3 children were more satisfied than the counterparts with only 1 child in the special education program. This difference was practically meaningful. Data provided by 4 open-ended questions revealed that parent training and communication were the most popular strategies mentioned as methods to increase parental understanding of the special education process. The best sources of receiving special education information were ARD committees and teachers/diagnosticians. Excessive and wordy paperwork was the least helpful source of information regarding receiving special education. Postal-mail and the ARD meetings with diagnosticians were the best methods of acquiring special education information. Findings from this study, especially on the open-ended questions, suggested the special education program and services can be improved to better serve the parents and their children.
- Retention and attrition of doctoral candidates in higher education
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A number of studies have been conducted on the attrition rates of undergraduate and graduate students. However, the body of knowledge concerning attrition for doctoral students, especially those who have attained the level of “all but dissertation” (ABD), is limited. The purpose of this research was to examine retention and attrition factors of doctoral candidates from a typical Higher Education Doctoral Program (Research II Public Institution) who were admitted to candidacy from 1991 through July 2000. Participation of the subject population was limited to those who had attained the level of ABD--those who had previously fulfilled the residency, coursework, foreign language or tool-subject requirements, and successfully completed the comprehensive/qualifying exams. This population included current ABDs, previously attrited ABDs, and graduates of the degree program. The research study was qualitative and intended to identify the effect of specific, predetermined factors that may have influenced or affected the progress of current, previous, and graduated students towards the doctoral degree in higher education. This study obtained responses to questions from the questionnaire/survey instrument concerning factors that affected program completion or attrition. Students had the opportunity to elaborate on factors from their dissertation, advisement, and personal, financial, and employment experiences that affected their ability to complete the program through open-ended question responses. By examining key factors in the doctoral degree experience from the three sample groups (current ABDs, previous ABDs, and graduated Ed.Ds), this study was able to draw some conclusions about doctoral attrition. Reconstructing and comparing the experiences of ABDs from the point of candidacy to the point of attrition or completion of the program determined trends, commonalities, and issues affecting achievement. Results of this study add to the limited research concerning ABD attrition and provide an insight from the student perspective as to the obstacles and support variables in the quest for the doctoral degree.