Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 28 Issue 4, (May 2012), p. 526-534.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aimed to investigate Beijing inservice teachers’ self-efficacy for inclusive education as well as the relationship between their self-efficacy, demographic variables and attitudes towards inclusive education. The current study had two research questions:
(1) Can the three factor structure (efficacy in using inclusive instructions, efficacy in collaboration, and efficacy in managing behaviour) of teacher self-efficacy for inclusive practices, be replicated in the current mainland Chinese teacher sample?
(2) Does teacher self-efficacy for inclusive practices along with respondents’ background factors predict their attitudes towards inclusive education?
The participants were 451 primary and middle school teachers from the Beijing municipality, who filled in a questionnaire containing a Teacher Efficacy for Inclusive Practices (TEIP) scale.
These results replicate the findings of the earlier studies in other countries (Sharma et al,. 2011 ; Savolainen et al., 2011) that the TEIP scale can be divided into three sub-scales - efficacy in using inclusive instructions, efficacy in collaboration, and efficacy in managing behaviour - and therefore provides additional support to the validity of the instrument.
The complete TEIP scale and its sub-scales had good reliability, and the data fit adequately the anticipated three factor solution.
Second, of the three self-efficacy factors, efficacy in collaboration predicted relatively strongly attitudes towards inclusive education.
The other two dimensions, efficacy in inclusive instruction and efficacy in managing behaviour, did not have a significant relationship with attitudes, when all self-efficacy factors and the participants’ level of experience in teaching students with disabilities were controlled for in the path model.
The level of experience in teaching students with disabilities had relatively small but significant effect on attitudes towards inclusive education.
It is well recognized that unfavourable attitudes are a major barrier of inclusive education.
This study provides support for this general notion and adds to the existing knowledge by showing that teachers self-efficacy, i.e. their perception on how they are able to influence student learning in inclusive settings affects their attitudes.
An interesting finding is also that the most critical practical concern is a sense of efficacy in collaborating with other teachers, professionals and parents.
Therefore the findings of the current study as well as influential policy recommendation documents suggest that the idea of collaboration in teaching and planning of teaching should be given more emphasis in school management as well as in pre- and in-service teacher education.
The current investigation suggest that even though teachers working in both inclusive and less-inclusive settings need similar types of competencies, the successful implementation of inclusive education may require special emphasis on certain sub-areas of teacher efficacy.
In the current study, those respondents having more experience in teaching students with disabilities were found to hold more positive perceptions towards inclusion even when the effects of self-efficacy were controlled for.
Therefore, those teachers who have been involved more in teaching students with disabilities may have changed their evaluations of inclusive education to become more consistent with their behaviour.
The positive effect of experience in teaching students with disabilities on attitudes remained statistically significant when the participants’ number of teaching years was controlled in the regression model.
This result addresses the need to provide teachers’ with more possibilities to actually teach classes that have students with disabilities in them, since a more general teaching experience does not seem to produce the desired attitudinal outcomes.
Moreover, the effect of experience in teaching students with disabilities on teachers’ attitudes did not seem to depend on whether the teacher was working in a regular or a special education school.
Finally, these results suggest that future pre- and in-service teacher education programs should emphasize developing teachers’ self-efficacy, particularly collaboration skills, in addition to training their competence in behaviour management and classroom instruction.
Self-efficacy theory and the findings of this study suggest that attitudes of future teachers might be more favourable towards inclusion if they had more positive learning experiences in inclusive teaching in collaboration with their peer teacher trainees during initial teacher training programs.
Savolainen, H., Engelbrecht, P., Nel, M., & Malinen, O. (2011). Understanding teachers’ attitudes and self-efficacy in inclusive education: implications for preservice and in-service teacher education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, doi:10.1080/08856257.2011.613603.
Sharma, U., Loreman, T., & Forlin, C. (2011). Measuring teacher efficacy to implement inclusive practices. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, doi:10.1111/j.1471-3802.2011.01200.x.