Understanding the Special Education Teacher Pipeline in Hawai‘i

Dissertation Research Project Findings

Dr. Janet Kim, Special Education Recruitment Specialist

Who chooses to pursue teaching special education and why?
Who is interested in becoming a special education teacher? Why did they become interested in this profession? What do they want and need in order to pursue it?

Background Information

The College of Education at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) is the largest local producer of newly certified teachers in the state each year. The targeted population for this study included individuals who had started an application to a UHM special education teacher preparation program between 2015–2020. This mixed-methods exploratory sequential design study sought to understand characteristics of those interested in the special education career and identify the motivations that inspired them to pursue the profession. Given Hawai‘i's unique landscape and population, this study was especially interested in understanding how to support more individuals from underrepresented groups (i.e., rural/remote, nontraditional, ethnicity, gender) into entering the special education teacher workforce in Hawai‘i. A total of 277 applicants had responded to this research request. A summary of findings are shared below.

Two girls helping apply stamps and labels to postcars

Research Findings — Characteristics, Motivations, and Program Preferences

Who expresses an interest in special education? What are some common characteristics or traits? What motivates individuals to pursue special education? What program design considerations do they prefer most when choosing to pursue a special education licensure program? 

To learn more about this research or ask questions, please contact Janet Kim, janetmc@hawaii.edu
UH SPED Special Education