Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

"Less Afraid to Have Them in My Classroom": Understanding Pre-Service General Educators' Preceptions about Inclusion

Academic journal article Teacher Education Quarterly

"Less Afraid to Have Them in My Classroom": Understanding Pre-Service General Educators' Preceptions about Inclusion

Article excerpt

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2002) and the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004) have resulted in greater numbers of students with disabilities (SWDs) receiving most of their instruction in general education settings. Specifically, in 2004 the majority (96%) of SWDs were being included in regular settings and just over half (52.1%) of these students spent most (79%) of the day in a general education classroom (U.S. Department of Education, 2009). Over the last decade, researchers have noted the continued trend toward educating SWDs in general education settings and underscored the need for all teachers to be prepared to work with all learners (Kavale & Forness, 2000; Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2001). At the time of the Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education (SPeNSE; 2001) data collection, 96% of general educators indicated they currently or had previously taught SWDs. Exceptional learners are spending increasingly more instructional time in the general education setting and will require high quality teachers who are willing and ready to meet their needs.

Response to Intervention (RtI) is described as, "a school-wide initiative with special education as an explicit part of the framework spanning both general and special education in collaboration with families" (Council for Exceptional Children, 2007). RtI, as a mechanism for improving student outcomes through assessment, progress monitoring, prevention, and intervention, is in line with expectations of the NCLB and IDEA (Mellard & Johnson, 2008). An increased emphasis on the use of RtI frameworks and use of evidence-based and research-supported practice suggest the importance of inclusion and teacher accountability. The concern becomes whether or not general education teachers have the necessary skills to scaffold support within their classrooms and whether the system supports collaboration with special educators, other service providers, and families to improve outcomes for all students (McLeskey & Waldron, 2006).

To illustrate, in a review of teacher education literature, Brownell, Ross, Colon, and McCallum (2005) reported that most studies indicated that programs have content on collaboration with other professionals and families. Programs also placed an emphasis on inclusion. Unfortunately, the pedagogy used to prepare teacher candidates for collaboration or inclusion was not well documented. These findings were not surprising considering research (SPeNSE, 2001) that showed that less than one-third of early career general educators ([less than or equal to] six years) reported receiving pre-service training in collaboration with special educators, the area that had the greatest effect on their sense of efficacy in working with SWDs. Slightly over half reported receiving preparation on making instructional adaptations, while two-thirds reported receiving instruction on behavior management. Limited preparation has consistently been found to heighten fear and reduce the sense of teaching self-efficacy of general educators when faced with the demands of inclusive classrooms (Boling, 2007; Lombardi & Hunka, 2001; Hastings & Oakford, 2003). Novice teachers also report feeling unprepared to meet the needs of SWDs especially in designing appropriate instruction (Conderman & Johnston-Rodriguez, 2005). Thus, teacher educators must understand the needs of pre-service teachers and emphasize the importance of being skilled in inclusive practices (Pugach, 2005).

The present study examined the perceptions of elementary and secondary education majors toward the inclusion of SWDs prior to and after taking a course on integrating exceptional students. The study is guided by Pajares' (1992) framework on beliefs. Successful teaching and learning in the inclusive classroom is largely predicated on a teacher's knowledge, skills, and dispositions, all of which can be undermined by a belief system that is inconsistent with an inclusive paradigm. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.