Exploring Preservice Teachers Attitudes Towards Inclusion

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<ul><li><p>Full Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=tied20</p><p>Download by: [Southern Illinois University] Date: 25 September 2015, At: 15:42</p><p>International Journal of Inclusive Education</p><p>ISSN: 1360-3116 (Print) 1464-5173 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tied20</p><p>Exploring preservice teachers' attitudes towardsinclusion</p><p>Isabel Killoran, Dagmara Woronko &amp; Hayley Zaretsky</p><p>To cite this article: Isabel Killoran, Dagmara Woronko &amp; Hayley Zaretsky (2014) Exploringpreservice teachers' attitudes towards inclusion, International Journal of Inclusive Education,18:4, 427-442, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2013.784367</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2013.784367</p><p>Published online: 25 Mar 2013.</p><p>Submit your article to this journal </p><p>Article views: 1039</p><p>View related articles </p><p>View Crossmark data</p><p>Citing articles: 3 View citing articles </p></li><li><p>Exploring preservice teachers attitudes towards inclusion</p><p>Isabel Killoran, Dagmara Woronko and Hayley Zaretsky</p><p>Faculty of Education, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Winters 269, Toronto, ON,M3J 1P3, Canada</p><p>(Received 19 September 2012; final version received 6 March 2013)</p><p>This study responds to a call for research into existing teacher-educationprogrammes and their impact on teacher candidates attitudes. An inclusiveeducation course that examined the difference between soft inclusion (inclusionwhich addresses the issue of place rather than substance of learning) and genuineinclusion was used to explore pre-existing teacher candidate beliefs andassumptions. Using the Opinions Relative to Mainstreaming-Adapted, fourclasses of students from two different teacher-preparation programmes within theFaculty of Education at York University in Toronto, Canada, were surveyed pre-and post-course. A statistically significant change in the scores was found for allof the classes. A significant difference was also found between the changes inscores of the two programme groups. Results indicate that the course wassuccessful at shifting preservice students towards inclusion and gave the studentsa foundation that will hopefully translate into practice.</p><p>Keywords: inclusion; attitudes; preservice; teachers; Ontario</p><p>Inclusive education of students with disabilities is a matter of human rights, wherebyaccess to quality education is coupled with respect and equity in the learning environ-ment (Moran 2007; Rioux and Pinto 2010). Internationally, Article 24(1) of the Con-vention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (United Nations 2006) requiressignatory nations to provide learners with an inclusive educational experience. InOntario, the Ministry of Education aligns inclusive education with rights to non-dis-crimination and dignity under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms andthe Ontario Human Rights Code. The Ministrys Equity and Inclusive Education Strat-egy (2009) emphasises respect for student diversity and the importance of meaningfulparticipation in education for all learners. Successful and equitable inclusive class-rooms necessitate the presence of committed, competent and adaptable teachers. Effec-tive inclusive teachers hold positive attitudes towards children with disabilities, areskilled in delivering curriculum to a diverse population of students and feel confidentin their ability to promote inclusivity in their classrooms (Berry 2010; Blecker andBoakes 2010; Darling-Hammond 2006a; Lancaster and Bain 2010; Ryan 2009). Con-versely, the absence of positive attitudes and a sense of commitment to principles ofinclusion can negatively affect teachers efforts to effectively educate students withdisabilities (Berry 2010; Jordan and Stanovich 2004; Rioux and Pinto 2010). Thisabsence of positive attitudes and practices can also adversely impact peer attitudes</p><p># 2013 Taylor &amp; Francis</p><p>Corresponding author. Email: ikilloran@edu.yorku.ca</p><p>International Journal of Inclusive Education, 2014Vol. 18, No. 4, 427442, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2013.784367</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [S</p><p>outhe</p><p>rn Il</p><p>linois</p><p> Univ</p><p>ersity</p><p>] at 1</p><p>5:42 2</p><p>5 Sep</p><p>tembe</p><p>r 201</p><p>5 </p></li><li><p>and intentions to engage socially with children with disabilities (Roberts and Smith1999; Ryan 2009).</p><p>Teachers face a number of pressures that may detract from a focus on buildinginclusive communities. Globally, Slee (2006) points to a centralized fast curriculumand pedagogy development and production, high stakes testing, and teaching inspec-tion as enacting barriers to the realisation of inclusion (238). According to Slee(2006), when educators feel compelled to raise student performance in accordancewith uniform standards, disability can easily become understood as a threat in theschool setting (238). Elsewhere, Curcic et al. (2011) discuss how accountability press-ures may detract from collaborative working relationships amongst general and specialeducators, thereby preventing the sense of shared responsibility for all learners. Astrong commitment to the principle of inclusion may help educators navigate thesepressures and begin to enact change at a local level. Promoting positive attitudes andshared responsibility towards inclusion amongst teachers is an important foundationfor the creation of equitable learning environments.</p><p>The foundation of positive, equitable and inclusive attitudes towards the educationof students with disabilities can be laid in preservice-teacher-preparation programmes.New teachers, who find themselves struggling with the complex demands and chal-lenges of the inclusive classroom, often cite a lack of adequate preparation as onesource of their frustration (Horne and Timmons 2009; Loreman 2010; Sosu, Mtika,and Colucci-Gray 2010). To address these concerns, teacher-preparation programmesmust design courses that help prospective teachers appreciate environmental, socialand cultural contexts of learning, behaviour and teaching, and be able to enact theseunderstandings in inclusive classrooms serving increasingly diverse students(Darling-Hammond 2006a; Horne and Timmons 2009; Jung 2007; Sosu et al. 2010).</p><p>Darling-Hammond (2006b) outlined three fundamental problems associated withlearning to teach inclusively.</p><p>(1) The problem of the Apprenticeship of Observation: new teachers must under-stand teaching in ways different from and more complex than their own experi-ences as students.</p><p>(2) The problem of Enactment: new teachers must not only learn to think like ateacher, but also to act like a teacher.</p><p>(3) The problem of Complexity: new teachers must learn to understand andrespond to the dense and multifaceted nature of the classroom (35).</p><p>Teacher-preparation programmes should be responsive to these problems and thechallenges faced by new teachers. Effective preparation needs to address these criticalissues and foster positive attitudes and teaching strategies for inclusive classroom set-tings. Existing teacher-education programmes need to be researched in terms of theirimpact on teacher candidates human qualities, attitudes and practices (Falkenberg 2008).</p><p>Background</p><p>The following study measures the attitudinal shifts of preservice teacher candidatesafter participation in a 36-hour Inclusive Education course offered in the Faculty ofEducation at York University. York University, located in Toronto, Ontario, is thethird largest university in Canada, with approximately 50,000 students. It has 11 fac-ulties, including the Faculty of Education, one of the largest in Ontario. Preservice</p><p>428 I. Killoran et al.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [S</p><p>outhe</p><p>rn Il</p><p>linois</p><p> Univ</p><p>ersity</p><p>] at 1</p><p>5:42 2</p><p>5 Sep</p><p>tembe</p><p>r 201</p><p>5 </p></li><li><p>(Bachelor of Education) students prepare for teaching careers through either a three-year concurrent programme, in which they complete an additional Bachelors simul-taneously, or a one-year consecutive programme, which is done after a Bachelors.Course work requirements are complemented with practicum placements. Preserviceteachers are working towards certification in one of the following division groupings:primary/junior (kindergarten to grade 6); junior/intermediate (grades 410) and inter-mediate/senior (grades 712). This study drew participants from the concurrent pro-gramme and a specialised consecutive cohort at York for those who have alreadygraduated with an early childhood education (ECE) degree or another degree and anECE diploma. Successful graduates of both programmes receive a Bachelor of Edu-cation degree, with a recommendation to the Ontario College of Teachers for teachingcertification (general education).</p><p>Within these programmes, some students are offered the opportunity to take a 36-hourcourse on Inclusive Education. In the consecutive programme, the course is offered as anelective only to the primary/junior students who are in the ECE consecutive group. All ofthe concurrent students have the option of choosing the Inclusive Education course as anelective. The ECE consecutive option is offered in a two-week module format, while theconcurrent option is offered over a 12-week term. The concurrent students in the electiveare generally in their second or third year of the programme, have completed a variety ofpractica and may be in any of the division groupings mentioned above (primary throughsecondary). Inclusive Education is a seminar course that focuses on the inclusion of chil-dren with exceptionalities in the general education classroom. [Exceptionalities is usedin reference to identified behaviour, communication, intellectual, physical or multiplelearning needs, including giftedness (MoE 2001, A18A20).] The approach taken isthat it is the right of students with exceptionalities and of parents to elect placement ingeneral education classrooms at neighbourhood schools, and it is the obligation ofschools, teachers and administration to provide an effective, inclusive placement (YorkUniversity 2011, taken from course syllabus).</p><p>In Inclusive Education, inclusion is humanised through the examination of real-life stories, case studies and guest speakers. These strategies may help preserviceteachers personally connect to inclusion, which is critical for shifting attitudes. Evans(2004) contends that the most significant shift in attitudes towards inclusion</p><p>comes at an emotional level [teachers] have to believe that these children belong, thatthey have a place in the classroom, that children with special needs can form relationshipswith others, and that, as teachers, they can facilitate this process. (200)</p><p>As such, within Inclusive Education, pre-existing teacher candidate beliefs andassumptions are challenged and the difference between soft inclusion (inclusion thataddresses the issue of place rather than substance of learning) and genuine inclusion ispresented (Rioux and Pinto 2010). Time is spent in this course looking at bias and thestereotypes of disabilities within society as a whole. The importance of peers (see, forexample, Girolametto and Weitzman 2007) and how inclusion/exclusion impacts thesocial and emotional development of children with and without disabilities is explored.The misperception that special education teachers are privy to a wealth of teaching strat-egies foreign to general education teachers is dispelled through the introduction ofUniversal Design for Learning (CAST 2011) and Differentiation. Disability as a socialconstruct, inclusion as a human right and the collaboration of parents, teachers, parapro-fessionals and peers in supporting inclusive practice are also examined.</p><p>International Journal of Inclusive Education 429</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [S</p><p>outhe</p><p>rn Il</p><p>linois</p><p> Univ</p><p>ersity</p><p>] at 1</p><p>5:42 2</p><p>5 Sep</p><p>tembe</p><p>r 201</p><p>5 </p></li><li><p>The founding principles for the course are as follows:</p><p>(1) A child has the right to be included.(2) The general-education teacher has the responsibility and knowledge to include</p><p>children with disabilities.(3) Behaviour is a form of communication.(4) Social and emotional development needs to be an important component of</p><p>inclusion.(5) Collaboration is critical.</p><p>The focus of the course is to get preservice teachers to grasp these principles and tounderstand that the issues preventing inclusion do not lie within the child but ratherwith those around him/her. In an effort to meet the objectives of the course, the instruc-tor attempted to demystify inclusion, challenge assumptions and empower the preser-vice teachers to feel confident in their abilities to implement inclusive practices.</p><p>Methodology</p><p>The purpose of this study was to examine whether participation in Inclusive Educationresulted in statistically significant attitudinal shifts among preservice teacher candi-dates, given the empirical evidence that demonstrates the correlation between positiveattitudes and effective inclusive practices (Berry 2010; Blecker and Boakes 2010;Darling-Hammond 2006a; Lancaster and Bain 2010; Ryan 2009). Although some pre-service teachers may come to the programme with relatively inclusive beliefs, theinstructor was curious as to whether attitudes all along the continuum of inclusivebeliefs could be shifted in a positive direction regardless of the students startingposition.</p><p>Four cohorts of students participated in the study. The survey was given duringclass time and all of the students completed it at the first collection. Some surveyswere unable to be matched from the final collection because students used a differentfour-digit ID code. Originally, the data were intended for the personal use of the instruc-tor to consider when evaluating the course and its objectives. Upon analysis of the data,the instructor requested retroactive permission from the Universitys Human Partici-pants Review Committee to use the data for further analysis and publication. Thisapproval was given and all of the participating students (N 81) signed consent forms.</p><p>(1) November 2002 ECE/consecutive group (n 21),(2) November 2003 ECE/consecutive group (n 21),(3) Fall 2005 all divisions (primary/junior, junior/intermediate, intermediate/sec-</p><p>ondary)/concurrent group (n 17),(4) Winter 2007 all divisions/concurrent (n 22).</p><p>Students enrolled in the ECE/consecutive groups attended class for 8 days, for atotal of 36 hours of instruction. Students enrolled in the all divisions/concurrentgroups attended class 3 hours a week, for 12 weeks, totalling 36 hours of instruction.Content, curriculum and philosophy were consistent across all four courses as theywere taught by the same course director. Using an adapted version of Opinions Relativeto Mainstreaming (Goodstadt-Killoran 2000), the four course groups were surveyed. Ineach of the courses, the students were given the questionnaire on the first day of class</p><p>430 I. Killoran et al.</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [S</p><p>outhe</p><p>rn Il</p><p>linois</p><p> Univ</p><p>ersity</p><p>] at 1</p><p>5:42 2</p><p>5 Sep</p><p>tembe</p><p>r 201</p><p>5 </p></li><li><p>prior to any discussion about the syllabus or inclusion. On the last day, the studentswere re-administered the questionnaire. The results were analysed based on the pro-gramme variable (consecutive or concurrent). The changes in the four subgroupswere also...</p></li></ul>