Teachers’ Capacities to Meet Students’ Additional Support Needs in Mainstream Primary Education

September 2016

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 22, No. 4, 448–460, 2016
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study is to examine teacher-perceived capacity to meet their students’ additional support needs. This study also aims to identify perceived sources of help or hindrance in meeting students’ additional support needs, as these sources may be relevant when focusing on the improvement of teacher potential.

The participants were 108 Dutch mainstream primary school teachers, who were in the last semester of their Bachelor of Education studies or were studying for a master’s degree in special educational needs at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in Zwolle, the Netherlands. The participants were teaching students aged 8–12 years.

They were completed a survey which examined how teachers identify students with additional support needs.
The authors randomly selected two students per teacher from the nominated students as targets for additional teacher ratings. The participants scored their perceptions of additional support needs of each of their two selected students using the Teachers’ Perceptions of Students’ Additional Support Needs Questionnaire (Bruggink et al., 2014).
The authors also measured the participants' self-efficacy beliefs were measured using the Dutch version of the Ohio State Teacher Efficacy Scale (OSTES, Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001).

The findings reveal that the participants perceive themselves to be fairly capable of meeting students’ additional support needs.
The participants’ own competencies are perceived as being helpful in addressing all dimensions of students’ additional support needs.
The teachers discern four sources of help or hindrance to which teachers attribute their success: teacher him/herself, student characteristics, school/working conditions and teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs.

The authors argue that these sources of help or hindrance are likely to be more important when aiming to improve teacher’s capacities to meet students’ additional support needs than when aiming to improve teachers’ general self-efficacy beliefs.
This study has improved the authors' understanding of everyday Dutch mainstream primary teachers’ practices with respect to meeting additional support needs of real students rather than hypothetical cases.
This study has implications that could improve teacher training, and as a consequence, student teachers’ potential.
First, the authors argue that teachers not only need to address students’ instructional needs and implement differentiated instructions, but should also be able to recognise needs in emotional, behavioural and social domains. Hence, teacher training should ascertain that teachers develop skills to recognise students’ additional support needs and to proactively provide differentiated instruction to achieve adaptive education.
The authors claim that teacher education programs could prepare their student teacher more adequately for the adaptation of teaching to the diversity of the group not only by enhancing their students’ capacities, but also by setting the right example by congruent teaching in teacher education.
Second, the findings of this study highlight the importance of the specific work context at the teacher and school levels when aiming to enhance teachers’ capacities to meet students’ additional support needs.
The authors argue that identifying and meeting students’ additional support needs forms an important part of the complex tasks of mainstream teachers in primary education. They recommend on conducting more research addressing this topic is essential, specifically focusing teachers’ training and practice, is essential for the professional development of tomorrow’s teachers.

Bruggink, M., Meijer, W., Goei, S. L., & Koot, H. M. (2014). Teachers’ perceptions of additional support needs of students in mainstream primary education. Learning and Individual Differences, 30, 163–169.
Tschannen-Moran, M., & Hoy, A. W. (2001). Teacher efficacy: Capturing an elusive construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 783–805. 

Updated: Sep. 04, 2018