School of Education News

Ruppar receiving Early Career Publication Award from division of Council for Exceptional Children

November 08, 2017
UW-Madison's Andrea Ruppar ​is receiving the Early Career Publication Award from the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children.

Ruppar is an assistant professor with the School of Education’s Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education.

Andrea Ruppar
Ruppar's paper was published in the journal Teacher Education and Special Education, and is part of a larger project exploring perceptions about expertise for teachers of students with significant support needs. The report focused on the perceptions of faculty and developed an initial theory of expertise in teaching of these students.

Research that stemmed from this study included collecting data from teachers and administrators, and finding patterns in perceptions. Perceptions about students' capabilities and potential were connected to perceptions about expertise for teachers. Those who focused on the students’ deficits viewed expert teachers as caregivers and protectors, while those who focused on students’ capabilities viewed teachers as having expertise instruction and advocacy.

Ruppar connects these results to the common perception of special education teachers as "saintly" or "caring people," and says they might reinforce assumptions that students with significant support needs are incapable of learning.

"It’s exciting and encouraging to have been recognized for our work in the area of teacher education for students with significant support needs," Ruppar says of the award. "I hope this work will help teacher educators to prepare teachers to work with students with significant support needs, and help inform the community that the best teachers of students with significant support needs aren’t caregivers or saints, but they build on students’ capacities with high expectations for success."

Ruppar ​is receiving her award at the Teacher Education Division's conference Nov. 7-10 in Savannah, Ga.

The paper is co-authored by Carly Roberts (University of Washington) and Amy Olson (Winona State University), both of whom are alumnae of UW-Madison's Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education. Read the paper from Ruppar and her colleagues: "Faculty Perceptions of Expertise Among Teachers of Students With Severe Disabilities."

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