Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Paul Chapman.


This study investigates the perceptions of the knowledge base that are held by directors of special education. The study focuses on one main research question: What is the knowledge base special education directors feel they need to know in the field of special education? Mixed methodology, constant comparative method as described by Maycut and Morehouse (1994) and Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, is used to analyze data from a survey and interviews. Survey data was collected from 45 current special education administrators along with in-depth interview data from 6 directors. The interviewees were chosen randomly using selective sampling based on 3 sets of paired opposite factors. Both instruments are designed to gather brief demographic information and cover 3 domains of directors' perceptions: (a) special education director preparation, (b) skills learned on the job, and (c) building a better education administration program. Eighteen areas of knowledge are identified by the participants. The data from both groups of participants suggests that while graduate level education administration programs may either directly provide specific content or it is embedded in other courses, on the job experiences allow the director to expand, refine, and apply the learned knowledge through practical application. Among other areas, this study opens questions for additional research related to gender specific issues, licensure, and program changes for institutions of higher education.