Date of Award

Fall 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Yasha J. Becton


This comparative case study is designed to uncover varying approaches to teaching students with special needs based on the perceptions and practices of teachers. A closer look is made into the specific experiences of educators that resulted in Learner-Centered approaches to curriculum and instruction. Data was collected through published documents, questionnaires, and interviews of teachers who instruct students with special needs in the United States and Denmark. In the United States, data from educators in a private specialized education program in Georgia was used to compare data from public education teachers in a Danish Municipality. The study builds on current global special needs education research concerning teacher perspectives of the special education system, their use of Learner-Centered philosophies and practices, and historical perspectives of the special education system. There is little comparative research that connects teachers' perceptions of the issues of equity in the special needs' education field and their ability to combat those inequalities with practice. The purpose of this study is to reveal the similarities that exist in the two systems adding to the body of research that provides motivations and practices for equitably teaching students with special needs. Implications of the study support adapting individualized, non-traditional, learner-centered approaches to teaching special needs students based on similar successes in the United States and Denmark.


© 2019, Maria Knuckley Robinson