Dr. Elizabeth Bettini and Research Team Publish Three Articles in Recent Issues of Exceptional Children

Dr. Elizabeth Bettini, Assistant Professor in the Special Education program at BU Wheelock authored three articles in recent issues of Exceptional Children, the flagship journal for the Council for Exceptional Children.

Dr. Bettini’s team’s research focuses on how working conditions contribute to special educators’ efforts to effectively serve students with disabilities, especially students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. In these three articles, her team examined the working conditions special educators experience nationally, and how those conditions are related to their intent to continue teaching.

For example, in Predicting Special Educators’ Intent to Continue Teaching Students with Emotional or Behavioral Disorders in Self-Contained Settings, Dr. Bettini and colleagues conducted a national survey of special educators serving students with emotional/behavioral disorders, because these teachers serve students with especially high risk for negative long-term outcomes, and they are at especially high risk for attrition. They found that special educators’ ratings of their planning time, workload manageability, stress, and emotional exhaustion explained relationships between other working conditions and their intent to continue teaching. In particular, special educators who reported that they (a) spent more time planning outside school (b) supervised more paraprofessionals, (c) had limited access to curricular resources, and (d) served more heterogeneous instructional groups were more likely to report having insufficient planning time, unmanageable workloads, stress, emotional exhaustion, and intent to leave. Results provide insights into how administrators might more effectively support these teachers, in order to retain them and increase the likelihood that students with EBD are served by strong special educators. Specifically, they imply that administrators should endeavor to improve planning time, curricular resources, and instructional grouping.

Two of the articles, both funded by a Spencer Foundation grant in 2017, were co-authored by recent BU Wheelock graduates, Maalavika Ragunathan (EdM, Special Education) and Rachel Sutton (EdM, Counseling Psychology), and one was co-authored by a current BU undergraduate, Akash Chopra. As research assistants, Ms. Ragunathan, Ms. Sutton, and Mr. Chopra assisted with all stages of the research, including writing the grant that funded this research, conduct early trials of the instrumentation, recruiting districts, administering the survey, cleaning data, presenting results at conferences, and preparing the methods section of the manuscript.

You can read more about Dr. Bettini’s work here.