The Academic Background of Teachers Working in Specialized Classes with Adolescents Who Have Autism Spectrum Disorder

Poster Presentation
Saturday, May 4, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
M. Bessette, Psychology, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada
Background: In Quebec, a majority of students with autism spectrum disorder [ASD] are educated in specialized classes within a mainstream school. Their teachers usually have an academic background in special education, but they are not equally prepared to work with children with ASD. In addition, the teaching profession requires a constant actualization of knowledge and skills and teachers must always adapt to the numerous changes that will occur during their career. However, unfavorable conditions to a thoughtful approach towards their professional development still exist. Moreover, researchers found insufficient data demonstrating empirically the efficiency of professional development on students learning.

Objectives: This study, which is financed by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and is part of a larger research project, aims to compare 1) the initial training and the continuing education and training of teachers working in specialized classes with adolescents who have autism spectrum disorder and 2) their needs for further continuing education and training.

Methods: The participants consisted of fifteen teachers (fourteen women and one man) working in specialized classes with six to ten adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Each participant took part in a semi-structured interview based on an interview grid and a questionnaire regarding their sociodemographic and occupational characteristics. The teachers’ training was subjected to an exploratory and descriptive analysis, with transcripts of the teachers’ comments coded in two Excel files.

Results: The teachers’ initial training is homogeneous, most of them holding a bachelor’s degree in Special education. The teachers’ continuing education and training is very heterogeneous in both quantity and quality. Furthermore, many trainings followed by teachers are not research-based. The teachers’ needs are also large and varied.

Conclusions: The continuing education and training of teachers working with adolescents who have ASD must be oriented and recognized by a board that would implement obligatory guidelines for professional development. And, to ensure their quality, trainings should only be provided by renowned experts certified by this board. Moreover, according to research, supervision is the best form of training for professional development. Therefore, teachers should have the opportunity to be supervised by qualified professionals.

See more of: Education
See more of: Education