Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Lynne Cohen

Second Advisor

Julie Ann Pooley

Abstract

It is estimated that 16% of Australian primary school students suffer from a learning difficulty (LD) (Rivalland, 2000). Teachers are expected to provide these students with the specialised education they need. However, teachers have reported that they face numerous challenges to provide LD students with the support needed, which may result in them experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. These challenges include problems with identification of the specific difficulty and the most appropriate intervention programs to implement, a lack of pre service education and training, insufficient resources and funding specific to students with LD. Awareness and understanding of these challenges may help teachers to manage the associated stressors, ultimately increasing teacher well being and the standard of education received by both LD and non LD students. The teachers of children with learning difficulties (LD) face numerous challenges when endeavouring to provide them with the specialised education that they need. This qualitative study explored the experiences of teachers of children with LD in the south west of Western Australia. Seven teachers from three primary schools in the Bunbury region were interviewed. The teachers requested a need for extra support, professional development, and resources so as to provide LD students with the individualised attention they need. A lack of pre service training in teaching students with LD often resulted in teachers developing their own strategies to enhance the learning of those students. The teachers also described a number of positives when teaching students with LD, including feelings of satisfaction and achievement when those students progressed academically. The key limitation of the study is the number of participants, with opportunities for future research in relation to the experiences of teachers of LD students in regional versus metropolitan schools.

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