Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

College and University Requirements for Teachers of the Deaf at the Undergraduate Level: A Twenty-Year Comparison

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

College and University Requirements for Teachers of the Deaf at the Undergraduate Level: A Twenty-Year Comparison

Article excerpt

COLLEGE and university requirements for undergraduate deaf education teacher preparation programs from 1986 and 2006 were compared. Thirty percent fewer undergraduate programs were in existence in 2006 than in 1986. Compared to programs in the 1986-1987 academic year, programs in 2006-2007 placed less emphasis on course work related to speech and hearing and more emphasis on the development of sign language skills. These findings are discussed in relation to the increasing probability that future employment for program graduates will be in itinerant and resource placements within public schools with children whose hearing losses are less severe than those of children in the past.

During the past 20 years, many changes have occurred in the education of deaf and hard of hearing children. The percentage of children in regular public school classrooms has increased, as has the percentage of children receiving cochlear implants (Mitchell & Karchmer, 2006). During this same period, the successful "Deaf President Now!" protest at Gallaudet University took place, followed by rising interest in American Sign Language (ASL) and issues of Deaf culture (Christiansen & Barnartt, 1995).

In the spring of 1987, 1 undertook a study of North American college and university requirements for teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing at the undergraduate level (Dolman, 1988) by examining college catalogs using the pink-stripe edition of the College < log Collection on Microfiche (Career Guidance Foundation, 1986) for each of the 47 colleges or universities listed in the 1986 reference issue of the American Annals of the Deaf ("University Programs," 1986). The study reported the average number of semester hours required for deaf education programs as well as the average number of semester hours in courses such as sign language, audiology and methods of teaching the deaf.

The present study is a comparison of undergraduate deaf education requirements in the academic year 1986-1987 with requirements in 2006-2007, again using the most recently available reference issue of the American Annals of the Deaf at the time of writing ("Programs for Training Teachers," 2006). While the earlier study examined in some detail the total number of semester hours required for undergraduate deaf education programs, the emphasis of the present study is on changes over a 20-year period in the number of undergraduate deaf education teacher training programs available and in curricular requirements.

Method

Thirty-three colleges or universities listed in the 2006 reference issue of the American Annals of the Deaf ("Programs for Training Teachers," 2006) were described as offering undergraduate programs for training teachers of deaf and hard of hearing children. Statistical data were examined by comparing data from programs listed in the 2006 reference issue to data from programs listed in the 1986 issue ("University Programs," 1986). Curricular requirements were investigated through website searches in June 2007 of college catalogs for each of the programs listed.

Results

Changes in the Number of Programs

In 1986, there were 47 programs in the United States and Canada that offered undergraduate degrees in deaf education. In 2006, only 33 undergraduate programs were available, a decrease of 30% over a 20-year period. During this same period, the total number of deaf education teacher preparation programs (undergraduate and graduate combined) went from 83 to 69, a decrease of 17%. Fifty-seven percent of programs were at the undergraduate level in 1986, while in 2006 the figure was 48%. Thus, in this 20-year time frame both undergraduate and graduate deaf education teacher preparation programs decreased in absolute numbers, with the decline in undergraduate programs being more precipitous.

Further examination of the 1986 and 2006 reference issues of the American Annals of the Deaf indicates that 57 programs at the undergraduate levels were listed in both years. …

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