Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Teacher Characteristics as Predictor of Attitude towards Inclusive Education in the Cape Coast Metropolis of Ghana

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Teacher Characteristics as Predictor of Attitude towards Inclusive Education in the Cape Coast Metropolis of Ghana

Article excerpt

Teachers are the principal players and actors who make inclusion happen and succeed in any country. Can there be an effective inclusive education practice in Ghana without positive teacher dispositions? Teacher characteristics were examined for their relationship with attitude towards inclusive education in regular schools. With a sample of one hundred and thirty-two (132) professional teachers from 16 Basic schools located in the Cape Coast Metropolis, teacher characteristics such as gender, school location, teaching experience and professional qualification were found to be statistically insignificant with respect to differences in attitude towards inclusive education. Results were supportive of earlier studies on teacher characteristics undertaken in some countries such as UK, US and Haiti. Implications of these findings are discussed and some useful recommendations are provided for teachers, educators and policy makers and implementers in Ghana.

Key words: teacher characteristics, attitude, inclusive education, regular schools, individuals with disabilities

Introduction

What are teacher characteristics and how do they influence attitude towards inclusion in regular schools in Ghana? Teacher characteristics such as attitudes are considered as the most important factor for successful inclusion (Dupoux, Hammond, Ingalls 8c Wolman, 2006, Hammond 8c Ingalls, 2003 Lewis 8c Doorlag, 2003; Salend, 2001, 2005). Usually, these characteristics are shaped by theories, beliefs and values teachers hold about individuals with disabilities. Naturally, there are great variations and individual differences in teachers' beliefs, attitudes and confidence in moving toward inclusion (Scruggs 8c Mastropieri, 1996). For example, the nature of teachers' work within particular schools, their academic and professional competence better equips some of them to deal with students' individual differences and special educational needs in regular schools. Teacher characteristics tend to determine a relationship between those characteristics and attitudes toward children with special needs (Avramidis 8c Norwich, 2002). Researchers have documented a host of specific teacher characteristics or variables which might influence teacher acceptance of the inclusion process. These teacher variables include gender, age, years of teaching, class /grade level, contact with disabled persons and personality factors.

Evidence appears inconsistent regarding gender as an indicator of teacher differing attitudes towards including children with disabilities in regular schools. Male teachers attitude towards integration are more negative than females (Alghazo 8c Naggar Gaad, 2004). Some researchers found female teachers had a greater tolerance level for inclusion and for special needs persons than did male teachers. Female teachers hold more positive beliefs and attitudes toward disabled students than do male teachers (BehPajooh, 1992; Tejeda-Delgado, 2009). According to Avramidis and Norwich (2002), there was a marginal tendency for female teachers to express more positive attitudes towards the idea of integrating/ including children with behaviour problems than male teachers. Leyser, Kapperman and Keller (1994) and Berryman (1989) however report that gender was unrelated to attitudes towards inclusion.

Concomitantly, teaching experience is another teacher-related characteristic cited by several studies as having an influence on teachers' attitudes. To Clough and Lindsay (1991), younger teachers and those with fewer years of experience have been found to be more supportive to integration/ inclusion. The acceptance of a child with physical disability was highest among educators with less than six to ten years of teaching. Leyser et al. (1994) believe in the opposite. Teachers with 14 years or less teaching experience had a significantly higher positive score in their attitude. Further, there was no significant difference in attitudes to integration/ inclusion among teachers whose teaching experience was between one and four years, five and nine years and ten and 14 years. …

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