This study used quantitative techniques to measure the dependent variables, but the answers obtained have a high level of subjectivity present in them.
Aside from the independent and dependent variables, almost every study has a number of factors present that affect the results obtained in the study and the ability to interpret them. In this study, there are a number of factors that must be addressed in regards to the teacher responses to the survey. Confounding variables can be internal or external factors over which the researcher has no control. It id difficult to find a study that has absolutely no confounding variables that could affect the results.
In this study, the first confounding variable is dependent on the interactions of other confounding variables. The students type and severity of emotional disturbance are the first factors that affect the results obtained in this study. Neither the teachers, nor the researcher has control over the types and severity of emotional disturbances found in their classrooms. Many outside factors can affect the types and severity of disturbances present in the classroom. Biological, genetic, and environmental factors both inside and outside of the school setting can have an impact on the types and severity of the emotional disturbances present (Hyatt & Filler, 2007). These cannot be adequately measured given the time and limitations of these study criteria.
The type and severity of emotional disturbances in the classroom could have several affects on the study results. It could be reasonably suspected that teachers with a higher number or more severe emotional disturbances in their classroom would respond more negatively to their behaviors. Likewise, it could be suspected that teachers with few emotionally disturbed students in their classroom would elicit more positive responses on the questionnaire. However, regardless of the number, types, and severity of emotionally disturbed students in the classroom, the ability of them to control their behavior in the classroom is expected to have the greatest affect on the thoughts and feelings of the teachers about them.
There are a number of confounding variables on the side of the student, but there are also a number of confounding variables that could affect the teacher as well. Teacher responses to students may not be based on the students behavior. The responses of the teacher may be based on their own personal life experiences or personality regarding the students behavior (Hyatt & Filler, 2007). Many of the internal and external factors that could affect teacher responses are similar to those that affect the students (Hyatt & Filler, 2007). They cannot be predicted or controlled in this research setting, but they may affect the results of the study.
Confounding variables that affect either the student or the teacher can have an affect on the study results (Lane, Wehby, Robertson, & Rogers, 2007). The presence of bias due to general trends in the selected population, but that are not present in the general population are a possibility. For instance, if the sample population tends to have a high number of severely emotionally disturbed children with uncontrolled behaviors, the teachers may have more generally negative responses. The opposite could occur if there are not as many severely emotionally disturbed children in the student population. Using the study methodology described in this section, it will be difficult to make certain that confounding variables did not have an affect on the study results.
The sampling method chosen for the study has a measurable affect on the accuracy of the findings. The sample population consisted of 20 teachers of High School students in the local school system. Teachers selected taught in a variety of classroom settings in standard curriculum subjects. Subjects included Math, Social Studies, English, Science, and Health Education. Physical education teachers were excluded from their study due to the difference in teaching methods and classroom management as compared to subjects taught in the traditional classroom setting.
Although, no demographic information was collected in the study, some of this information was used as criteria for selection of the study population. Only teachers that had been teaching high school students for five years or more, either at their school or another, were included in the study sample. Teachers that have fewer years of experience may react differently than experienced teachers to students with emotional disturbances.
The age and qualifications of the teacher were not considered in this study. However, it can be expected that the number of years in the teaching profession would have an affect on the age and qualifications of the teacher.
As this study measured thoughts and feelings, it is not suspected that the failure to include these factors would have an affect on the study results.
Only teachers that had at least two emotionally disturbed students in their classroom during the day were selected to participate in the study. Those that do not have emotionally disturbed students were excluded from participation in the survey. The severity and type of the disturbance were not taken into consideration. Some teachers may have had more emotionally disturbed students than others. The severity of the emotional disturbances present was not considered in selection of the sample population. However, purpose of the study was to assess teacher responses to emotionally disturbed students, therefore, only those with at least two students with IEPs for emotional disturbances were included.
The number of students with IEPs for emotional disturbances is generally low, compared to the general student population. There may be students that have emotional disturbances that do not have an IEP, but those students are not considered for the selection of teachers in the study. These students may affect management of the classroom, but there is no way to identify them using the current study criteria. Therefore, only students with emotional disturbances that are verifiable through an IEP were considered for selection of teachers for the study population.
Although, the number of students with IEPs for emotional disturbances in the classroom is generally low, as compared to the general student population, they have a tremendous impact on the ability of the teacher to manage the classroom. The teacher must continually modify their behavior in the classroom to accommodate the student with an emotional disturbance that causes negative behaviors in the classroom.
Measurement of Variables
In this study, students with IEPs for emotional disturbances serve as the independent variable, as this factor cannot be changed by the teacher or the researcher. However, they also serve as the test condition that is applied to the dependent variable. Teacher response to children with emotional disturbances is the variable to be tested. This is the thing that can be change by application of the test condition. Application of the test condition, children with emotional disturbances in the classroom, is the condition to be applied to the dependent variable.
Understanding how the independent variable affects the dependent variable is the topic of this study. The interaction of children with emotional disturbances in the classroom creates a change in the dependent variable, teacher response to these children and the affect that is has on the classroom. The changes in the dependent variable are measured by using a survey methodology. The survey is the chosen instrument for measurement of the affect of the independent variable on the dependent variable. In this case, this means measuring the affect of emotionally disturbed children on teacher response in the classroom.
The research used a survey administered to a chosen group of teachers that had at least two emotionally disturbed children with IEPs in their classroom. The survey instrument was developed by the researcher and asked six questions. Three of the questions were open ended with no structured response. However, only the last question elicited a subjective explanation from the teachers.
Although, many of the questions were structured so that the results could be easily quantified, the survey did not ask for specific information. The responses were subjective in that they required teachers to make an approximation in many cases. The responses depended on the opinions of the teachers. This survey measured the teachers perceptions, rather than providing a quantitative assessment of the situation. There may be parents or other school officials that disagree with the responses provided by the teachers. For instance, question 2 asks, “What percentages of students are responding well to their IEP?” The teacher may feel that the student is responding well, at least based on their own observations in their classroom. However, the IEP team may not feel that the student is meeting their goals overall. This is one of the caveats of this type of survey setting.
Even tough this type of survey may not represent accurate findings in some areas, such as IEP assessment, it still gives the researcher an idea of how teachers feel about the circumstance. This is an important factor.