Training Pre-service Special Education Teachers to Facilitate Meaningful Parent Participation in IEPs Using Simulated Meetings
The current study sought to establish whether simulated Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings using scenarios and actors may serve as an effective tool for assessing and improving pre-service special education teachers’ ability to facilitate parent participation in legally correct IEP meetings with the introduction of a training intervention. This investigation sought to answer the following research questions: 1) Are the content and methods of a training program designed to teach pre-service special educators to conduct legally correct IEP meetings inclusive of parent participation socially valid as determined by a survey of practicing special educators?, 2) Can pre-service special educators learn to encourage parent participation in simulated IEP meetings with actors across scenario difficulty levels through the use of a training intervention? 3) Can participants learn the skills required to run an IEP that successfully addresses legally required meeting agenda components?, 4) When levels of difficulty of scenarios are compared, do they impact the level of participant and parent actor responding at both pre and post?, and 5) Is there a functional relationship between the training intervention and increases in encouraging parent participation and parent actor participation in response to teacher facilitation as determined by a multiple baseline across subjects design? The training intervention method and content were rated socially valid by in-service special educators. Data indicated that the training intervention was successful at increasing pre-service teachers’ facilitation of parent participation skills as well as the mean number of meeting components completed across pre and post levels. Findings suggested that there was no difference in the patterns of participant and parent actor responding at the easy and medium scenario levels, where by visual inspection, an increase in participant use of parent facilitation strategies appears associated with an increase in parent actor participation. In the difficult level, however, an increase in participant facilitation skills did not appear to be associated with an increase in parent actor participation. Analysis of the multiple baseline design data indicated several issues with upward trends in baseline and overlapping levels across baseline and intervention phases, which raised questions regarding an ability to claim a functional effect between the training intervention and the dependent variables under investigation. An examination of an ad hoc hypothesis is presented, whereby a case is made through both direct observation and qualitative data that one actor performed as an outlier. Analysis of the multiple baseline design with outlier data excised demonstrates a likelihood of a functional effect between the intervention and the dependent variables. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for future research and practice for both pre-service and in-service teacher education.