THE INFLUENCE OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST'S LEVEL OF EXPERTISE, ROLE OVERLAP AND AREA OF EXPERTISE IN SPECIAL EDUCATION DECISION-MAKING (SOCIAL POWER THEORY)

HOWARD IVAN GLATT, Fordham University

Abstract

The present study examined responses of experienced multidisciplinary team (MDT) members in three role areas (i.e., administrators, regular and special education teachers) toward classification and placement recommendations of a school psychologist who purportedly possessed a Doctorate and 10 years of professional experience (High Expertise) or a Master's degree and 2 years of experience (Low Expertise). In addition to previous empirical findings, social power theory provided a framework for interpretation of the present results.^ The Recommendation Agreement Form (RAF) was developed for use in the study, consisting of three psychoeducational case summaries with classification and placement recommendations, and an introductory statement reflecting the expertise level of the school psychologist who purportedly wrote the case summaries and recommendations. Using a multidisciplinary panel of judges, recommendations were selected which were of 'moderate' or 'marginal' appropriateness for the case summaries to which they were attached.^ All 175 school districts of three suburban New York counties were invited to participate; 57 districts returned data, resulting in a final sample of 141 subjects.^ The results of the study indicated that: (a) the experimental treatment (i.e., school psychologist's level of expertise) did not influence MDT members' agreement with recommendations; however, when school psychologist's expertise was considered in conjunction with members' roles, each group demonstrated a distinctive pattern of response to the school psychologist's recommendations; (b) special educators expressed less agreement with the school psychologist's recommendations than did administrators or regular educators for both expertise levels, while administrators expressed greater agreement with low expertise recommendations, and regular educators expressed greater agreement with high expertise recommendations; (c) MDT members overall expressed greater agreement with classification recommendations than with placement recommendations.^ It was concluded that: (a) special educators tend to disagree more readily with school psychologists' expert assertions, presumably due to overlapping areas of expertise, than do administrators or regular educators; (b) MDT participants tend to accord school psychologists greater expertise in making diagnostic classification recommendations, their 'traditional' or 'acknowledged' area of expertise; (c) role orientation appears to influence the decision-making behavior of MDT participants; (d) social power theory appears to be useful in understanding and examining some of the decision-making behaviors of MDT participants. ^

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

GLATT, HOWARD IVAN, "THE INFLUENCE OF SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST'S LEVEL OF EXPERTISE, ROLE OVERLAP AND AREA OF EXPERTISE IN SPECIAL EDUCATION DECISION-MAKING (SOCIAL POWER THEORY)" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8624483.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8624483

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