Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to discover ways in which community college faculty and administrators can better facilitate learning for students with disabilities. Semi-structured interviews, preinterview questionnaires, and a review of relevant documents were used to gain an understanding of how community college faculty perceive the challenges of teaching students with disabilities. Additional research goals included an exploration of strategies community college faculty have found effective in assisting students with disabilities to be successful, actions community college administrators have taken that effectively address issues related to success for students with disabilities, and approaches community college administrators use to enhance their support of faculty who teach students with disabilities.

The primary findings were constraints on funding and staffing negatively effecting support for students with disabilities. In addition, participants felt faculty and administrators lack sufficient knowledge concerning specific disabilities and need to learn new ways to work with students with disabilities in and out of the classroom. Other findings included faculty participants’ frustration with a variety of issues students bring to the classroom such as high levels of immaturity and overly intrusive parents intervening with faculty. Faculty participants also expressed dissatisfaction with a variety of erroneous beliefs; for example, some students expect services identical to those they received in high school. Moreover, faculty were dissatisfied with inadequate skills exhibited by colleagues when working with students with disabilities, such as providing excessive assistance to students and thereby setting unrealistic standards for future faculty. Administrators also reported students often experience inconsistent intervention strategies in working with different faculty members.

Exploration of effective intervention methods used by faculty and administrators revealed the application of specific behavioral strategies, relationship focused communication, and individual creativity in teaching and communication strategies. Many of these strategies do not involve a large cost to the institution, but faculty and administrator training is needed to make better use of current campus resources.

Conclusions drawn from the research suggest that administrators need to clarify the responsibilities both faculty and administrators have in working with students with disabilities. Moreover, faculty and administrators need to take greater responsibility in serving these students, and not rely solely on the college’s Disability Services office to provide all of the support. In order to accomplish this transition, more disability specific training for faculty and administrators is necessary. Finally, a pedagogical paradigm shift should be examined at the institution to better address the needs of students with disabilities, particularly in view of the current funding environment. Also, the needs of students should be included in short term operational and long term strategic planning at the college.