Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 45, Issue 2 (April 2010), pages 75 – 95.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The current study examined the attitudes of beginning general education teachers (preservice and early career) with respect to teaching in inclusion classrooms. The investigation specified relationships between two dimensions of response—confidence/anxiety, positive/negative attitude—and three aspects of inclusion: instructional accommodations, fairness, and general perceptions.
The goal was the development of teacher profiles to enhance teacher educators' understanding of attitudes held by individuals being prepared for inclusive teaching.
Q-method was selected as appropriate for the purposes of this study.
A structured Q-sample of 24 statements addressed relationships between two attitudinal dimensions—anxious/confident and positive/negative, and three topics—fairness, instructional accommodations, and general perceptions of inclusion.
Data were collected from 60 early childhood, elementary, and secondary education students at the conclusion of a graduate special education survey course: 43 preservice teachers, 17 early career inservice teachers (defined as holding initial certification in this state; these teachers generally have fewer than 5 years of teaching experience); 43 females, 17 males; 27 who teach (or who are preparing to teach) at the early childhood/elementary level, 25 at the middle/high school level, and 8 at both levels or unknown; 55 European Americans, 5 other ethnicities; 41 were under the age of 25.
A three-factor solution resulted in profiles of three groups of teachers:
Factor A: Keen, but Anxious, Beginners.
These were mostly preservice teachers with positive attitudes, but who worried about being effective inclusion teachers;
Factor B: Positive Doers
Factor B teachers were more experienced teachers whose struggles with the challenges of inclusion had not deterred their positive attitudes.
Factor C: Resisters
Factor C teachers were mostly experienced middle or high school teachers whose concerns about fairness signified their resistance to inclusion.
This study provided insight into a range of possible views held by preservice and early career teachers regarding aspects of inclusion.
The results suggest that teachers with limited experience and higher levels of anxiety should be provided with preservice or inservice mastery experiences (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk-Hoy, 2001) as well as resources in the form of information and tools that will increase their sense of self efficacy (Leyser, 2002; Stanovich & Jordan, 2002).
Furthermore, if inclusive classrooms are to be effective, teachers must accept inclusion as necessary and beneficial.
Results of this study suggest that perceptions of fairness should not be ignored. Preservice teachers tend to believe in equitable treatment for all students (a value), while inservice teachers may view fairness more as a practical matter. Concerns about classroom equity should carry weight in teacher preparation programs similar to that given to categorical information (Kamens et al., 2003) and strategies for classroom management (Smith & Smith, 2000).
In summary, teachers' attitudes toward inclusion are complex and may consist of interrelated variables. The three profiles described here may assist teacher educators in planning educational opportunities that address many of the teachers' recognized (and perhaps unrecognized) concerns, encourage teachers to develop positive attitudes and dispositions toward inclusion, and help them realize a willingness to fulfill their responsibilities toward students with disabilities in inclusion classrooms.
Kamens, M. W., Loprete, S. J., & Slostad, F. A. (2003). Inclusive classrooms: What practicing teachers want to know. Action in Teacher Education, 25, 20–26.
Leyser, Y. (2002). Choices of instructional practices and efficacy beliefs of Israeli general and special educators: A cross-cultural research initiative. Teacher Education and Special Education, 25, 154–167.
Stanovich, P. J., & Jordan, A. (2002). Preparing general educators to teach in inclusive classrooms: Some food for thought. The Teacher Educator, 47, 173–185.
Smith, M. K., & Smith, K. E. (2000). ‘‘I believe in inclusion, but : : : ’’: Regular education early childhood teachers’ perceptions of successful inclusion. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 14, 161–180.
Tschannen-Moran, M., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2001). Teacher efficacy: Capturing an elusive construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 783–805.