Teacher Aides in inclusive, supportive classrooms: Towards changes in policies and procedures

PhD Thesis

Lucey, Daniel Joseph. 2023. Teacher Aides in inclusive, supportive classrooms: Towards changes in policies and procedures. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/yw6z6

Teacher Aides in inclusive, supportive classrooms: Towards changes in policies and procedures

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorsLucey, Daniel Joseph
1. FirstProf Petrea Redmond
2. SecondDr Karen Peel
2. SecondDr Douglas Eacersall
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages237
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/yw6z6

Students most at risk are regularly being taught by the least qualified people in schools. These are Teacher Aides (TAs) that are often required to make instructional decisions beyond their expertise. This study explores this claim by identifying the perceived roles of TAs and their ability to fulfil these roles competently, and by discovering the challenges faced by these paraprofessionals in carrying out their duties within inclusive classrooms. This thesis discusses how a descriptive, sequential mixed method design approach was implemented to gather data from approximately 100 participants representing both teachers and TAs that were supporting students with a full range of abilities in general education classes. Relying on an interpretivist approach, this research methodology followed a pragmatic research design. The data collection tools were created by using a previously validated quantitative questionnaire followed by a series of semi-structured qualitative interviews. The goal was to build on previous research and to use these new findings to promote changes to policies and practices designed to improve outcomes for all stakeholders. The analysed data found that there is ambivalence surrounding the question of the perceived roles of TAs from both the perspective of the TAs and their supervisors. An unspecified, de facto role description agreement between TAs and their supervisors appears to exist. The absence of appropriate institutionally mandated role descriptions means that it remains unclear whether these identified roles are the ones that TAs should be fulfilling. It was found that TAs were not competent in carrying out their perceived roles due chiefly to an absence of appropriate professional development (PD). The research identified an extensive list of challenges facing TAs in their understanding, skills, knowledge, and practice in supporting teachers in an inclusive classroom. Recommendations from this research include the urgent implementation of a well thought out rigorously monitored role description for TAs ensuring role certainty, job security and appropriate remuneration. This role statement must be supported by an adequately targeted, funded and compulsory PD program for TAs and their supervisors provided by schools on a regular basis. This PD program would be expected to promote an understanding of what constitutes inclusive education and the role of TAs in supporting its implementation. In addition, there is a critical need to upgrade the current role of TA to that of a fully trained, appropriately recognised and adequately rewarded Assistant Teacher (AT). This role would be pivotal in ensuring that both the teachers and the students receive the classroom support necessary for inclusive education to flourish.

KeywordsTeacher Aid, Inclusive education, pedagogy, culture, communication, Assistant Teacher
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390307. Teacher education and professional development of educators
Public Notes

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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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