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Special Education without Teaching Assistants? The Development Process for Students with Autism

Irene Rämä, Elina Kontu, Raija Pirttimaa
Journal of Education and Learning , Volume 9; doi:10.5539/jel.v9n6p163

Abstract: Many children may need the help of another person to attend school. It is common for children with disabilities to receive help from a teaching assistant at school. Assistants are provided in many countries as a legal right and are often publicly funded. It is also widely assumed that having teaching assistants in the class is an effective and cost-efficient way to support students with disabilities. In this study, the research task was to monitor and document the development process carried out by the teacher, with the aim of making visible the development of a more dynamic classroom interaction. The focus in this development process was the teacher’s idea of minimizing the contacts between students and assistants to increase students’ opportunities to optimize interaction and learning. This was to happen by strengthening commitment to their activities and taking responsibility. The data include video excerpts, which originate from video recordings from a special education class, and transcripts of three stimulated recall-type interviews with the teacher of this class. In this article, the experimental development process is described as presenting an unorthodox approach to teaching assistants and their position in special education.
Keywords: Children / video / teacher / optimize / special education / Teaching Assistants / Development Process

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