Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 33, No. 2, May 2010, 127–146.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The purpose of this study was to examine the linkages between the four components of pre-service teachers’ attitudes (beliefs, emotions, immediate reactions, and planned behaviours) toward children with learning and behavioural difficulties (LBD) and the factors that predict their attitudes.
Using a self-report measure that consisted of four scenarios describing students with LBD, the authors investigated the degree to which pre-service teachers’ open-minded thinking dispositions, readiness to learn about students with LBD, beliefs about the role of regular classroom teachers in providing for these students, and emotions in relation to dealing with these students’ difficulties predict their likelihood of engaging in punitive reactions (e.g., giving a timeout) and planned behaviours (e.g., adapting instruction).
This study was guided by two objectives. The first objective was to develop and validate a questionnaire that could reliably and validly assess pre-service teachers’ attitudes toward students with LBD at the beginning of their teacher training.
The second objective was to explore the linkages among pre-service teachers’ beliefs, emotions, immediate reactions and planned behaviours in relation to scenarios describing students with LBD, and the extent to which readiness to learn and open-minded thinking dispositions predict these components of pre-service teachers’ attitudes.
The participants in the study were 274 pre-service teachers studying at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto (OISE/UT).
19% of the participants were male and 81% were female. The mean age of the participants was 28 years. All of the participants had a bachelor degree and 4.7% had a previous master degree. 94.2% of the participants reported that they had some previous experience working with children with LBD and 17.5% had taken a course in exceptional learners. Nearly half of the participants had some informal teaching experience.
The authors found that teachers who reported that learning about effective teaching strategies for children with LBD was a very high priority and who had more open-minded thinking dispositions were more likely to report that they intended to engage in these planned behaviours. These pre-service teachers appear to have the motivation and personality that lead them to want to learn about the evidence-based strategies that they might implement in their classrooms.
This research suggests that teacher education programmes should focus on preventing punitive reactions by focusing on strategies for emotion regulation, motivating those teachers who do not view learning about students with LBD to be a high priority, developing open-minded thinking dispositions, and teaching evidence-based strategies for adapting instruction for students with LBD.
The study underscored the important role of negative emotions in mediating the relationship between interventionist beliefs and punitive reactions and the important role of readiness to learn and open-minded thinking dispositions in predicting pre-service teachers’ likelihood to engage in effective planned behaviours.