Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Bauder, Debra K.

Author's Keywords

Autism; Teacher attitudes; Survey research; Special education; Teacher burnout; Teacher efficacy


Special education teachers--Attitudes; Special education teachers--Job stress; Burn out (Psychology); Teacher turnover; Autistic children--Education


Students with autism require a variety of supports to be successful in classrooms. Because of this, special education teachers need additional training to address these needs along with balancing the demands of the rest of their caseload. This daunting task can often lead to lower levels of efficacy (general teaching and personal teacher) and increased levels of burnout. The Teacher Efficacy Scale-Short Form (Hoy & Woolfolk 1993), Teacher Burnout Scale (Seidman & Zager, 1987), and Autism Attitude Scale for Teachers (Olley et al., 1981) were chosen for this study. The Olley et al. work was modified to reflect current trends in language, remove efficacy-based questions, and add several new questions; the scale was renamed the Teachers' Attitudes about Autism Scale. The final questionnaire, Autism Education Survey (AES), consisted of the three scales plus environmental factors. The central research question reflects the purpose of this study: What is the effect of teacher efficacy and teacher burnout on educators' attitudes towards students with autism? After human subjects approval, the survey was administered to the 684 teachers who fit the profile, those special education teachers in a large urban district in a south central state who held LBD and moderate/severe disability certificates; 267 (39%) responded. Descriptive statistics; psychometric work (factor analysis, Cronbach's alpha, and interscale correlations), and multiple regression were conducted. The results for Research Question 1 demonstrated that the environmental factors are essentially independent of attitudes towards autism with the exception of hours spent in an autism workshop. Analysis for Research Questions 2 and 3 revealed that for special education teachers dealing with autism, both general teaching efficacy and personal teacher efficacy were significant for Autism-Inclusion and Autism-Supports. For Teacher Burnout, the Attitudes Towards Students and Coping with Stress were the most significant of the four subscales. In Research Question 3, the hierarchical regressions produced essentially the same results as RQ2, except that the environmental factors (entered first) were basically rendered non-significant when the professional characteristics were added, demonstrating that Teacher Efficacy and Teacher Burnout are the stronger predictors of teachers' attitudes about autism. The implications of the results are discussed.