Cristina Santamaria Graff, IU School of Education at IUPUI

Principal Investigator: Cristina Santamaria Graff, assistant professor, IU School of Education at IUPUI

Project Title: Families as Faculty: Family-led Discussions to Prepare Special Education Teacher Candidates and Educational Practitioners to Work with Students with Disabilities

Funding Level: $4,296

Abstract:

Families as Faculty: Family-led Discussions to Prepare Special Education Teacher Candidates and Educational Practitioners to Work with Students with Disabilities of children with disabilities in class. Families’ expertise, as parents/caregivers of children with disabilities, is integrated into family-led class discussions. Directly aligned with the legal mandate under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which states that parents have the right to make educational decisions regarding their child with a disability, students can learn from family members’ experiences of collaborating with teachers and other key stakeholders at schools on student-centered teams. Family members, affiliated with and recruited from local organizations that serve families of children with disabilities, are considered faculty. They plan and organize family-led discussion sessions with the Principal Investigator, the instructor of this course. Through presentations and structured discussions, families elaborate on specific aspects of disability and special education topics to enhance course material and deepen students’ understandings of targeted course learner outcomes. The purpose is to increase students’ awareness of communicative practices and interpersonal interactions that positively impact their relationships with the students they teach and their families. “Families as Faculty” model and intervention is implemented in two separate K448 courses during academic year 2016 2017. Data collection instruments include a pre- and post-beliefs’ survey of teacher-family collaboration, reflective journal writing, and two focus group sessions. Analysis is centered on evolving student perceptions of positive teacher-family collaborative relationships.