Date of Award

Fall 11-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Isenberg

Second Advisor

Dr. John Henschke

Third Advisor

Dr. Stephen Sherblom


This is an exploration of the perceptions and perspectives of early childhood leaders and practitioners with regards to preschool learners with autism engaged in inclusive educational settings. At a time when inclusive education is acknowledged as best practice, there is still a concern that many preschool learners with disabilities are receiving most of their supports in a segregated setting. Additional concerns noted in the current research relate directly to the beliefs, values, and attitudes towards inclusive education for learners with disabilities. No distinct study has been done with regards to this age group, nor to pinpoint the perceptions and perspectives on the outcomes and process of teaching learners with autism in inclusive settings. The main research question was, How, if at all, can andragogy learning theory be applied to inclusive education for preschool learners with autism? To answer this question, the researcher set up a standalone intervention experience for the study participants, utilizing two self-assessments and discussion group, with time for selfreflection. The stakeholders of the project included leaders, those that are in positions of authority in providing supports to preschool learners within the early childhood center; and practitioners, who are responsible to implement the supports for preschool learners in the early childhood center. A qualitative program evaluation was the research design utilized to measure both the program outcomes and processes. The leaders and practitioners took the two self-assessments and from the second self-assessment tool, MIPI-PLA, individuals volunteered to participate in a focus group discussion. Eight themes emerged from the research analysis as barriers for inclusive education: support and preparedness, team collaboration, defined roles and iii responsibilities, learner engagement, communication differences, valuing learners with autism point of view, belief in learners with autism, and transformative learning/change. The program evaluation found that andragogy learning theory provides support towards transformative change in beliefs, attitudes, and values with regards to preschool learners with autism engaged in inclusive opportunities. Ultimately, the experience of critical self-reflection through self-assessment provided the leaders and practitioners a different perspective regarding their assumptions of the preschool learner with autism and their capabilities in participating in an inclusive education experience.


Copyright 2017