Academic journal article Education

Preservice Teacher Training for Successful Inclusion

Academic journal article Education

Preservice Teacher Training for Successful Inclusion

Article excerpt

In a recent study, results indicated that confidence levels had a significant effect on other aspects of teaching (Kalaian & Freeman, 1994). Developing confidence in one's ability to teach special learners is not only important for special educators, but also for general education teachers.

Investigators have explored general education teachers' attitudes toward students with disabilities (Hoover & Sakofs, 1995; Center & Ward, 1997). Center and Ward (1997) conducted a survey that included 2,219 regular education and 332 special education teachers. Their results indicated that teachers' attitudes toward the integration of students with disabilities reflected a lack of confidence both in their own instructional skills and in the quality of support personnel currently provided to them. Also, Larrivee and Cook (1999) surveyed 1000 public school teachers in an attempt to assess attitudes toward students with disabilities. They reported that teachers' perceptions of degree of success in dealing with special-needs students had the most significant relationship to teachers' attitudes toward mainstreaming. Key elements have been noted addressing a change in confidence and attitudes toward special learners. A willingness to change, a common mission, use of collaboration, and training have all been targeted as essential elements in changing attitudes (Richardson, 1998). Sensitivity training was also noted as influencing a teacher's feeling of confidence, efficacy, and an increased positive attitude toward exceptionality. Efforts to enhance teacher confidence must take into account whether low teacher efficacy is due to teachers' confidence levels or a sense of futility regarding impact of their work. Variables emphasized as assisting in positive attitude change included training, collaboration, ownership, and administrative support. May and Kundert (1996) reinforced that a lack of training can be an obstacle for teachers in dealing with any level of exceptionality in students. Self-evaluation is viewed as an integral part of self-regulation, and resources and training are considered two of the building blocks to attain better self-regulation. Learning strategies to deal with exceptionalities were considered one of the building blocks.

Chester and Beaudin (1996) suggested that a number of variables can affect the interaction between teachers and students with disabilities. These can include the amount of collaboration time given to special education and general education teachers, mentoring, better evaluation procedures for newly hired staff, individual strengths and needs, and resources available to general education teachers. Training of preservice teachers is reinforced in their research as being a critical factor in shaping teachers' beliefs and/or attitudes. Chester and Beaudin (1996) also explored the relationship between differences in self-efficacy beliefs, teacher characteristics, and school practices of newly hired teachers. Training and support were observed as key factors in success with special learners. Teachers with low self-confidence are more likely to refer students who are perceived as difficult to teach, particularly students with special needs, than are teachers with high self-confidence. Soodak and Podell (1996) noted that the confidence one has in outcomes of a specific behavior is a variable in determining one's actions. Their study looked at the difference in personal vs. teaching confidence and observed that efforts to enhance teacher efficacy must take into account whether low teacher efficacy is due to teachers' confidence levels or a sense of futility regarding impact of their work. If training does influence one's perception on his or her ability to successfully work with special learners, then an increase in requirements for teaching might be required in dealing with exceptionalities.

It is often questioned whether general education teachers possess the skills to teach children with disabilities in their classroom. …

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