Master of Education Research Theses

Date of Successful Defense


Date Degree Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M.Ed.)




Timothy L. Heaton, Ph.D.


Attrition, Education, Teacher Education Program, Special Education, Experience, Southeast


In this quantitative study, I assessed the presence of factors related to attrition in pre-service special educators. I surveyed 23 pre-service special educators regarding various attrition factors identified in the research literature and then compared their responses to the perceptions of 32 seasoned special educators to test for statistical significance. Participants were located at a large, public university in the southeast United States and the largest public-school system in proximity to the university. The results of the study indicated that attrition factors may be evidenced in pre-service educators and therefore detectable prior to entering the teaching field. The study also found that pre-service educators frequently had low expectations for what they would face. For instance, compared to the reality reported by the experienced educators, the pre-service educators expected to do more work and have fewer resources available to them. However, they also expected there to be more collaboration and support, and they expected areas such as paperwork to be more meaningful than the experienced educators reported was the case. The results help to direct future research by noting areas in which the expectations of the pre-service educators differed from those of the experienced educators, such as the expectation of building relationships.



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