Date of Award

Winter 3-3-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Len Hightower

Second Advisor

Dr. Laurie Goodman

Third Advisor

Dr. George Giokaris


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to determine K-6 special education educators’ perceptions of the impact on students with disabilities returning to school after the trauma of a pandemic for 2 years with regard to behavior, academic achievement, mindset, and social connections.

Methodology: This qualitative study interviewed 10 special education teachers who taught before, during, and after the pandemic in Orange County, CA. Semi-structured open ended interview questions was the main source of data collection with other sources including observations, and artifacts. Data was coded and the researcher analyzed the data for themes and patterns.

Findings: The study revealed students with disabilities experienced diminished self-efficacy skills during their time at home and returning to in-person learning. Educators have noticed how behaviors (task initiation, emotion regulation skills), and the lack of academic achievement during this period have impacted student self-efficacy skills. Additionally, educators expressed the need for growth mindset, positive structures, people, and environments to help nourish those self-efficacy skills.

Conclusions: This study supported the literature and affirming that self-efficacy serves as the basis for motivation and accomplishment. Self-Efficacy helps an individual overcome obstacles that may interfere with using one’s abilities to achieve goals. When a students’ self-efficacy is impacted it can negatively impact their mindset, behavior, social connections, and academic achievement.