Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Mark Pancer

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Special education services offered to students and teachers in Ontario schools have changed dramatically within the past twenty years. Special education service delivery has evolved from a focus on the school psychologist as a psychometrist to the formation of multidisciplinary teams to deal with the needs of special students and their teachers. Students with special needs are no longer always segregated or left to fade into the wallpaper. By recent legislation, all students with special needs are entitled to special education programs suited to their needs. This often results in students being placed into the “least restrictive environment” which is often the regular classroom. Teachers sometimes find themselves in classrooms where several students need special attention and programming. Not having the necessary skills, knowledge or time to deal with these students, teachers need outside support to help them manage and cope with their own needs as well as those of special students. With the help of available consultation services, for example multidisciplinary resource teams, a teacher can learn to understand the needs of special students and plan, in collaboration with resource personnel, programs/curriculum suited to the students’ needs and the teacher’s abilities. However, research has shown that teachers have difficulties referring to and using the consultation services offered by resource personnel and/or School Based Teams. Much of the research to date on teacher use of consultation services focuses on teacher and school related variables, such as sex, teaching experience, class size and school climate. Ajzen and Fishbein’s (1980) theory of reasoned action provides an alternative approach to predicting and understanding teacher use of school consultation services. Through the application of the theory of reasoned action, this research examined the beliefs that affect teacher utilization of available resources, specifically by measuring teachers’ behavioral beliefs, the extent to which consultation is associated with various positive and negative outcomes, and normative beliefs, the extent to which teachers believe that important others think they should consult. In addition to the use of the theory of reasoned action, a Work Environment Scale was used to examine the extent to which teachers’ perceptions of their work environment affects their use of consultation services. Teachers’ intention to consult was significantly determined by their attitude towards consultation and the beliefs (behavioral) that they have about consultation. The beliefs teachers have about consultation include: consultation aids in program planning, benefits students and defines their needs. Teachers also believe that consultation wastes time and involves a lot of red tape. Behavioral beliefs influenced intention to consult more so than normative beliefs. However, teachers’ perceptions of what their principal wanted them to do and their motivation to comply with them was statistically significant. Teachers’ perceptions of their work environment was found to influence teacher use of consultation services. Teachers indicated an above average amount of work pressure and encouragement for them to be self-sufficient and make their own decisions. The discussion examines further teacher intention to consult, their beliefs and attitudes towards consulting and external variables, such as school environment, consultant role and presenting problem. The implications and applications of this study are discussed as well as recommendations for changing teacher use of consultation services.

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