Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, v. 32 no. 3 (August 2009) p. 215-225.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this study, the authors sought to establish the differential effects on achievement of embedding evidence-based practice in the design of an inclusive education teacher preparation course.
The participants were 90 volunteer pre-service teacher educators enrolled in a mandatory inclusive education course in the second year of the bachelor's degree in primary (elementary) education program. Eighty percent of the students were regular education majors, with 20% in a double-degree regular special education program. Of the total, 14 were male and 76 were female. The ages of participants ranged from 19 to 35, with a median age of 20. All participants were Caucasian.
The sessions of the 13-week course were held in the lecture theaters and tutorial rooms on the university campus. Lectures were of 1-hour duration, whereas tutorial/workshop sessions were 2 hours long. All 90 students attended the lecture, and the class was divided into four tutorial groups, two with an enrolment of 22 students and two comprising 23 students.
The embedded design principle was applied to the course design and implementation in the following manner:
Level I: Knowledge and awareness. All pre-service educators completed pre-reading on collaboration, explicit teaching, cognitive strategy training, cooperative learning and
peer-assisted learning in preparation for lectures. Lectures were then used to develop and apply the concepts and ideas described in the readings.
Level II: Active experience. Workshops were used to translate knowledge and awareness into skill through a series of practical experiences.
Level III: Continuous application and feedback. In the present case, the collaborative process was first embedded at all four levels in the course design. It was also embedded in the teaching cycle for teaching all other approaches through its use as a medium for learning about the other practices in subsequent workshops.
Level IV: Personal impact. This level involved using the key features of inclusive practice taught from week to week as part of the educators' preparation for their assessment tasks.
In the present case, this happened in two ways. The pre-service educators used independent self-study, PAL, and CL to prepare for the quizzes they would take as part of their assessment.
The educators' lesson designs were also graded as an assessment requirement. The ability of candidates to revise the drafts of their lesson designs was influenced by the feedback they received from their collaborative learning communities.
The results indicate that pre-service educators attained a mastery level knowledge of the course content that covaried with the application of the embedded design principle. The authors also found a statistically significant difference in student achievement as a function of the teaching approach (cooperative learning, peer-assisted learning, or self-study) employed as part of the embedded design process.
The findings are discussed within the context of building more rigorous teacher preparation programs and the role of embedded design in pre-service inclusive education.