Amy Miller

Date of Award





Doctor of Education

Degree Type



Counseling, Foundations & Leadership

First Advisor

Jennifer Brown

Second Advisor

Patricia Patrick

Third Advisor

Christopher Garretson


Significant discrepancies in reading comprehension rates exist for students with disabilities compared to their grade appropriate peers. Educational neuroscientists suggest that identifying breakdowns in the cognitive processes required for reading comprehension and applying specialized strategies have significant implications for improving the reading proficiency of students with working memory deficits. Despite the availability and implications of educational neuroscience, a significant gap between theory and classroom practice exists. The purpose of this explanatory sequential mixed methods research study was to examine special education teachers’ self-efficacy regarding their ability to increase the reading comprehension of students with working memory deficits. The quantitative phase, an online survey, was completed by 23 out of 40 targeted special education teachers providing reading instruction in a rural, west central Georgia school district. The qualitative phase, a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews, was completed by 7 of the 23 quantitative phase participants. Quantitative results indicated that participants generally rated themselves as prepared and confident regarding these concepts; however, qualitative results revealed parameters to self-confidence and a lack of preparation regarding specialized instructional strategies addressing cognitive deficits. The implications for this study included improving the reading comprehension rates of students with disabilities by providing special education teachers pre-service and in-service training regarding cognitively-focused instruction, reading comprehension, and specialized instructional strategies for students with working memory deficits. Recommendations for targeted professional learning are provided.