Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Student Perceptions and Instructional Effectiveness of Deaf and Hearing Teachers

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Student Perceptions and Instructional Effectiveness of Deaf and Hearing Teachers

Article excerpt

The study examined the views of deaf and hard of hearing secondary-level students when asked about their preferences for deaf vs. hearing teachers. It also compared elementary- and secondary-level students' achievement scores based on the hearing status of their teachers. Deaf and hard of hearing secondary-level students showed greater preference for deaf teachers, with deaf students showing greater preference for deaf teachers than hard of hearing students did No significant differences were found in the achievement levels of students based on differences in teacher hearing status. The study supports the limited research done in the past.

Over the past 180 years, views on the ef ficacy of educating and employing deaf individuals as teachers of deaf students have shifted, as have related hiring trends. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, as residential schools for deaf students were established, deaf individuals were frequently appointed as teachers within these schools, often taking leadership roles

The contrast between the positions for and against deaf teachers of deaf students was characterized by differing statements voiced in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1887, when establishing the Texas Institute for Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Colored Youth, the school administration appointed the first two black deaf teachers of deaf students in the United States, stating that this appointment "creates self-respect and selfconfidence and serves as an incentive for the students to aspire for greater achievement" (cannon, 1981, p. 3). Opposed to the view that the presence of deaf teachers would lead to greater achievement of deaf students, Alexander Graham Bell voiced the differing belief that deaf students were likely to suffer from proximity to deaf role models and would be less likely to be exposed to the "normal conditions of life" if taught by deaf teachers (p. 76).

With this shift in attitude came a shift in hiring practices. Jones documented these changes by showing that, from 1870 to 1917, the percentage of deaf teachers of deaf students declined from 42.5 to 14.5; most of these deaf teachers were employed in residential schools (cited in Moores, 1996, p. 25). This lower level of representation of deaf individuals in the teaching force continued through the 1960s, with deaf teachers making up 0.2% of the teachers in day school programs for deaf students (Doctor, 1962). Widespread support for the oral and oral/aural methods in day programs, state certification standards that required teachers to pass speech and hearing tests, and admissions criteria for college and university teacher training programs all served as barriers to deaf individuals who showed an interest in becoming teachers of deaf students.

Starting in the late 1970s, attitudes again moved toward support of deaf individuals as teachers of deaf students. The shift in attitude was attributable in part to the increased demand for total communication programs in day schools and to a more positive view of the value and role of Deaf culture in the life of a deaf child. It also was fueled by renewed calls for deaf teachers to serve as role models for deaf students (Marschark, 1993; Serwatka, 1992; Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, 1995). Unfortunately, this growing support for deaf teachers failed to result in a significant increase in the overall percentage of deaf teachers (Andrews & Jordan, 1993; Craig & Craig, 1985). The shift in attitude did, however, lead to an increasing likelihood that some of these teachers would find positions in day school programs.

The inability to meet the demand for more deaf teachers may be caused by various factors. One of these is assumed to be the current practice of using paper-and-pencil tests in state teacher certification, along with a reluctance to use alternative certification measures for minority groups (Martin, 1995; Martin, Traxler, & Lytle, 1997; Serwatka, 1995). …

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