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Delta Journal of Education Attitudes of Teachers Regarding Their Preparedness to
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
16
Delta Journal of Education
ISSN 2160-9179
Published by Delta State University
________________________________________________________________________
Attitudes of Teachers Regarding Their Preparedness to
Teach Students with Special Needs
Shannon Buford and Laura Baylot Casey
The University of Memphis
_______________________________________________________________________
Abstract
Educating students with disabilities within the least restrictive or most integrated setting
has been mandated since the mid 70’s. However, many educational institutions feel ill
prepared and are hesitant to fully implement inclusion measures due to several factors.
Some factors included time to collaborate, support from peers and administration, and
most importantly, adequate training to provide appropriate instruction for students with
special needs within the regular classroom. The purpose of this study was to investigate
the attitudes of PreK-12 regular and special education teachers regarding their
preparedness to teach special needs students in an inclusive setting in a rural school
district in southwestern United States. The study utilized a survey to examine the
following: attitudes held by teachers, their foundations of knowledge, attitudes and
experiences that shape their attitudes. The study showed an overall positive attitude
towards inclusive education (M=92.42) with strong implications of training needed in
order to provide sufficient instruction to students with special needs. The study ends by
providing possible implementation strategies that are predicted to be successful as
forecasted by reported teacher attitude.
Keywords: special needs, attitudes, inclusion, preparedness
Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Shannon Buford, Ed.S.; QMRP, Academic Teacher III, North Mississippi
Regional Center, 967 Regional Center Drive, Oxford, MS 38655; [email protected]; or to Laura Baylor Casey Laura Baylot
Casey, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Assistant professor of Special Education, The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
[email protected]
© 2012, Delta State University
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
17
Attitudes of Teachers Regarding Their Preparedness to Teach
Students with Special Needs
Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act, 1975) altered
the face of education and set the stage for inclusive education. According to PL 94-142,
in order to receive federal funds, states must develop and implement policies that assure a
free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities. The
reauthorization of this Act (IDEA, 1990) allowed millions of special needs students
across the country access into regular classrooms for either a part of the day or the entire
school day. The Act mandated that, to the maximum degree appropriate, children with
disabilities are to be educated alongside those without disabilities, unless education in the
general education classes with the use of supplementary aides and services cannot be
achieved satisfactorily.
In addition to IDEA 1990, provisions within the No Child Left Behind Act (2002)
were established for all students, including subgroups of students identified in terms of
their disability, socioeconomic status, language, race, and ethnicity. Specifically, all
school students were now required to take high-stakes assessments aligned with statewide
learning standards (Allbritten, Mainzer, & Ziegler, 2004). No longer were districts
allowed to exempt special education students from taking standardized assessments. In
order to comply with the Act and educate all learners, schools were and are still required
to merge general and special education into a single delivery system (Matlock, Fiedler, &
Walsh, 2001). Such a delivery system is known as inclusive education.
Teacher attitudes regarding inclusive education vary widely, similar to attitudes
towards most other high-value educational practices. Studies have suggested that teachers
find value in inclusive classrooms, for all students, and they are generally interested in
serving students in such a manner. The value that is seen is from the documented
effectiveness of the inclusion model that consistently documents benefits for all students
(Hughes & Carter, 2006; Downing & Peckham-Hardin, 2007; Foreman, Aurthur-Kelly,
Pascoe, & King, 2004). For example, the inclusive classroom has numerous advantages
for students with special needs, such as: (a) greater opportunity to develop friendships,
(b) peer role models for academic and behavior skills, (c) increased access to the general
curriculum, and (d) higher expectations of performance. Benefits are also seen for those
students without disabilities as they (a) build meaningful friendships with students
different from themselves, (b) gain an increased appreciation for individuals with
different needs, (c) acquire preparation for living in a diverse community, and (d) show
heightened levels of self-esteem as compared to their peers not in the inclusive classroom
(Logan, Diaz, Piperno, Rankin, MacFarland, & Borganian, 1995).
While there is a reported value in inclusive education, studies also indicate that
teachers do not believe they are receiving enough support and training in how to teach an
inclusion classroom. It is this lack of support and training which prevents them from
being the most effective teachers in the inclusion situation.
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
18
Review of Literature
Studies that have investigated teachers' attitudes toward inclusion reflected the
need for training and resources for teachers. Scruggs and Mastropieri (1996) conducted
studies spanning 37 years (1958-1995). Their meta-analysis of survey data included
10,560 general education and special education teachers. Chung (1998) surveyed 386
teachers to examine science teachers' instructional adaptations, testing, grading policies,
and perceptions about inclusion. Avramidis, Bayliss, and Burden (2000) conducted a
survey which included teacher perceptions of inclusive education for special education
students. The results from all three of the above studies indicated that teachers supported
the concept of inclusion, but they did not believe that they had sufficient time, training, or
resources to implement it.
Scruggs and Mastropieri (1996) found that, for the most part, teachers are very
supportive, on a personal level, of the concept of inclusion. In addition, they are
supportive of the practice of inclusion in the classroom and they believe it is an effective
teaching method for both general education students and special education students.
Teachers who responded to the study were willing to teach inclusion classrooms. There
was a far less satisfactory outlook, however, when they were asked about the level of
support they felt they receive in regards to teaching an inclusive classroom. "Only 18.6%
agreed that they were provided sufficient time for including students with special needs,
while only 22.3% agreed that they had sufficient training."(p. 68).
Most studies recognized that teachers are in need of intensive training when it
came to inclusion of special education students in the regular education program. I t is
noteworthy that in Bargerhuff and Wheatley's study (2005), a minority of teachers
believed that their coursework had not included instruction on categories of disabilities,
or on teaching students with disabilities. However, the majority of university educators
surveyed indicated that they believed this information had been covered in their
coursework. Both general and special educators are challenged by the idea of including
students with disabilities into the general curriculum. Often, it is difficult for them to
envision how to teach and meet the needs of the student who is performing at a different
level than the other students in the class. Teachers need to know what accommodations
and adaptations are successful for students with special needs.
Hammond and Ingalls (2003) found that many teachers feel unprepared and lack
sufficient training to fully support successful inclusion programs. Hastings and Oakford
(2003) also found that in order for teachers to provide a variety of accommodations, they
needed ongoing professional development opportunities to continue to develop their
skills. Such opportunities could include attending workshops, observing in other
classrooms, reviewing research on inclusion, and collaboration with colleagues to
develop a successful inclusion program. A study by Leyser and Tappendorf (2001) also
supported Hastings and Oakford’s findings that teachers needed to attend various
workshops and in-services to learn more about students with disabilities and inclusion. If
teachers are provided with adequate training they will begin to feel more comfortable
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
19
working with students with disabilities and implementing various accommodations
within their classrooms.
Inclusion is not where a child is seated but how a child is treated when they’re in
the regular classroom environment. It is misused when it is utilized to reduce special
education services. All children cannot be expected to learn the same way and regular
education teachers cannot be expected to teach children with special needs without the
needed training and support (Keenan, 1997).
Rationale for the Current Study
Given that regular and special education teachers are the service providers in
teaching students with special needs in the inclusive classroom, their attitude towards
educating students with special needs is a contributing factor to their success or failure.
Teachers who are ill prepared or uncomfortable with the concept of inclusion may pass
that discontent onto the students, which in turn can undermine the confidence and success
of those students. Conversely, teachers who support and believe they are prepared for the
concept of inclusion can provide special education students with confidence and a
comfortable learning environment. Teachers’ views of the quality of their preparation
could have an influence on their beliefs about their ability to instruct and manage students
with learning and behavioral problems in their classrooms (Brownell & Pajares, 1999).
While most experts are in agreement that complete integration and acceptance of
students with special needs into the regular education classroom will happen only after
there is a long-term change in attitude (Beattie, Anderson, & Antonak, 1997). It is
important to identify the teachers' attitudes and use this information to address the aspects
that make the process of inclusion successful and those perceived as barriers to its
success.
The primary research questions for this study are: (1) Are there differences in
attitude about the preparedness to teach special needs students in the inclusive classroom
that are related to issues of gender, age, educational level, teaching level, number of
special education courses taken; (2) What is the relationship between attitude and the
number of years at the teachers' current teaching level, the total number of years teaching,
and the number of years teaching children with special needs in their classrooms; and (3)
What types of inclusive education training methods do teachers believe to be the most
and least beneficial?
Method
Participants
Teachers in a small, rural school district were chosen as participants in this study.
They constituted a convenience sample for the purposes of this research. A total of 182
certified individuals were employed for the 2011-2012 school year, according to
information obtained from the district administration office. According to the District's
Office of Accountability, the district’s student enrollment on September 1, 2011 was
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
20
2,493. The district is comprised of three schools; an elementary school (Pre-K through
5th), a middle school (6th-8th grade) and a high school (9th-12th).
Each teacher was provided a cover sheet stating the general purpose for the study,
that their identity and responses would be kept confidential, that participation in the study
was purely voluntary, and that their returning the completed survey was their consent to
participate in the study. Of the 182 teachers employed in the district, 64 teachers
completed and returned the survey (N=64).
Materials
Because a review of the literature did not yield a specific instrument to address
the information sought from this study, the researcher designed a survey. The survey
addressed issues pertaining to teacher perceptions on training, administrative support,
peer support, collaboration, and student variables as they relate to inclusion. The survey
was developed based on areas of concern identified through the Review of Literature.
The survey consisted of Parts A, B, and C.
Part A of the survey gathered teacher demographic information; specifically,
gender, age range, educational level, current level of teaching, number of years teaching
at the current level, number of years teaching in total, and the amount of training received
in teaching children with special needs. Part B of the survey consisted of 34 questions
related to teacher attitudes regarding inclusive education. This survey is a self-designed
instrument consisting of items drawn from measures of beliefs and attitudes toward
inclusion used in previous studies (Antonak & Larrivee, 1995; McHatton & McCray,
2007; McLeskey, Waldron, So, Swanson, & Loveland., 2001; Scruggs & Mastropieri,
1996; Stoiber, Goettinger, & Goetz, 1998). The teachers were instructed to circle their
responses on a 4-point Likert scale (SD: Strongly Disagree; D: Disagree; A: Agree; or
SA: Strongly Agree). Part C of the survey consisted of open-ended responses related to
the type of training participant teachers perceived would most benefit them in effectively
implementing inclusion, and any other concerns they may have held in regards to
teaching students with special needs in the regular classroom.
In order to establish content validity for the survey, the instrument was reviewed
by three expert reviewers consisting of a certified school psychologist, a National Board
certified elementary teacher and a director of special populations in Mississippi.
Cronbach’s Alpha reliability test was conducted on each of the subdomains
(Table 1). The results obtained showed that for the alpha coefficient for: Student
variables .74; Peer variables .70; Administration variables .72; Collaboration variables
.69; and Training variables .76. The alpha reliability for 32 items combined is .72.
Suggestions were incorporated into a revision of the instrument.
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
21
Table 1
Reliability Coefficients of Subdomains (n = 34)
Variables
Student
Peer
Administration
Collaboration
Training
Overall Reliability
Number of Items
10
3
3
5
13
34
Cronbach’s Alpha
.74
.70
.82
.69
.76
.72
The survey was administered to elementary, middle, and high school regular and
special education teachers in the school district.
Data Analysis, Scoring, and Screening
The data collected included responses from teachers (N=64) who completed the
survey. The data was analyzed using Statistical Program for Social Sciences (SPSS),
Version 12.0. The attitude scale developed for the study consisted of 34 questions, the set
of which served as the measure of teacher attitudes. Higher scores on each item suggested
positive attitudes regarding teacher preparedness for inclusive education. In order to
answer the research questions, the Total Attitude score was used for the analyses.
A standardized z-score was computed on the attitude scale, as well as years
teaching at current level, total years teaching, and years teaching special needs children.
An extreme score was defined as a z-score of 3.29 or greater. A score of this magnitude
would be significant at the p <.0005 level of significance.
A one-way ANOVA was performed to identify differences between the
independent variables of teacher gender, age, education levels, teaching level, teaching
experience, teacher education in teaching special education students, and grade level
taught. For the purposes of the statistical analysis, the Total Attitude scores were used.
Conceptually, the operational definition of Total Attitude is the total score of the 34
question survey instrument, which is comprised of five sub domains identified as integral
components of teacher preparation in the review of the literature. The subdomains are
identified as Student Variables, Administrative Support, Peer Support, Collaboration, and
Training. In regards to the Total Attitude scores, the higher the score, the more positive
the attitude. The subdomains were not used in the statistical computations, as they
independently do not have statistical strength to allow for such calculations to be
performed. However, their frequencies are listed in Table 5 so that individual responses
within each subdomain can be examined in relation to the literature. Open ended
questions completed by teachers at the end of the survey instrument helped to identify the
training methods that teachers rated as being the most and least beneficial in their training
about inclusion.
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
22
Procedures
After the Institutional Review Board approval of the research proposal, a letter
was submitted to the superintendent of the schools for permission to conduct the research.
Once permission was granted by the superintendent, a cover letter and the Survey
Instrument were provided to the elementary, middle, and high school teachers employed
by the district. The letter clearly stated that the participant’s informed consent was
provided by their completing and mailing the survey back to the researcher. The letter
also indicated that teacher participation was voluntary, that their anonymity would be
maintained at all times that all information would be kept confidential, and that the
participant’s could view the results of the study. The participants were provided two ways
to contact the researcher if they had concerns or questions. Participants were provided
with a pre-stamped, self-addressed envelope to be used to return the survey.
Results
The demographic characteristics of the sample are provided in Table 2. The
number of respondents and percentages are provided for the categorical variables with the
means, standard deviations, and ranges shown for the continuous variables. Complete
data (N = 64) is shown for the categorical variables. Not all participants completed
information for the continuous variables, and thus, the information is based on the
number of subjects completing these variables, shown in parentheses in Table 2.
There was a greater response rate from females than from males. Teacher’s ages
36 years and younger comprised 59% of the sample. The majority of participants had
attained their master degree in education.
The number of special education courses received, categorized by the respondents
who had received two or fewer courses and those who had taken three or more courses,
suggested an almost equal split, with a four-point difference. Twenty-two percent (22%)
of participants reported having no special needs courses. Years teaching current level,
total years teaching, and years teaching students with special needs were similar, though
a wide range of experience was shown within each area.
Table 2
Demographic Characteristics of Participating Teachers
Characteristics
f
%
7
57
10.9
89.1
37
23
4
57.8
35.9
6.3
5
7.8
Gender
Male
Female
Age Range (years)
<36
36-45
>45
Educational Level
Bachelor’s
M
SD
Range
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
Bachelor’s +30hrs
Master's
Master's +30
Current Level Teaching
Elementary
Middle
High School
Special Needs Courses
2 or less
3 or more
None
11
37
11
17.2
57.8
17.2
18
32
14
28.1
50.0
21.9
27
23
14
42.2
35.9
21.9
Years teaching at current level (N=58)
Total years teaching (N=64)
Special needs teaching experience (N=48)
23
5.24
5.87
2.60
3.12
2.63
1.74
12
11
5
Question 1 analysis employed a one-way ANOVA, while a Pearson coefficient of
correlation was used for Question 2. Question 3 used percentages associated with teacher
beliefs about the benefits of seven different training methods.
First, as an overall group, the mean for teachers (N = 64) on the attitude scale was
92.42 with a standard deviation of 16.32. The scores ranged from a low of 58 to a high of
113. The lowest possible score was 34, with the highest possible score being 136. Thus,
the actual scores were well within the possible bounds.
In Table 3, in the case of age, it can be seen that the age group that had the highest
attitude was the less than 36 years age group', with a mean of 94.78. The lowest group
was the 36-45 age group, with a mean of 91.08. This difference was significant at the .05
level. Analyses on the remaining two combinations of age groups found no other
differences.
Table 3
Descriptive Statistics and ANOVAs for Differences in Attitude Toward Inclusive Education or Gender,
Age, Educational Level, Teaching Level, and Number of Special Needs Courses.
Variable
n
M
SD
F
p
Gender
Male
Female
7
57
91.14
92.58
15.07
16.59
1.52
.125
<36
36 -45
>45
37
2
4
94.78
91.08
91.25
14.87
18.59
18.48
3.31*
.001
84.80
101.45
92.00
12.52
18.06
6.47
2.10
.021
Age
Educational level
Bachelor's degree 5
Bachelor's +30 11
Master's degree 37
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
24
Master's +30
11
87.81
13.09
Teaching level
Elementary
Middle
High School
18
32
14
93.27
91.66
93.07
19.02
15.52
15.52
2.68
.004
Special needs courses
Two or less
Three or more
No response
27
23
14
94.26
89.87
93.07
18.26
14.68
15.52
2.85
.002
*p < .05
Table 4 shows the analyses employed on the three correlations conducted in
relation to Research Question 2. The questions concerned the relationship between
attitude and several measures associated with number of years teaching. The N for these
analyses was 58, rather than 64, due to missing data. To reach statistical significance, the
correlation had to reach .21 or greater, and as such, it may be seen that none of the three
correlations (r) reached that level, suggesting a positive but little relationship with
attitude.
Table 4
Descriptive Statistics and Correlations between Years Teaching at Current Level, Total Years Teaching,
Years Experience Teaching Special Needs Students and Attitude toward Inclusive Education (N=58)
Variable
M
SD
r
Attitude
92.42
16.32
Years at Current Level
5.24
3.12
.120
Total Years Teaching
5.87
2.63
.038
Special Needs Experience
2.60
1.74
.199
The last part of the survey associated with Research Question 3 asked the
participants about their beliefs about different methods of receiving information or
training on inclusive education. Participants responded on a seven-point scale from 1
(most beneficial) to 7 (least beneficial). The seven points were reduced to three categories
for more parsimonious reporting. Responses of 1, 2, and 3 were labeled as "Most
beneficial," the middle response of 4 was labeled as "Neutral," while responses 5, 6, and
7 were labeled "Least beneficial". Fifty-nine of the teachers responded to the question.
Table 4 shows their rankings of the delivery methods associated with the three categories.
Respondents rated out-of district level training as the most beneficial, with consultation
with school psychologists ranking second, and district level training being third. Clearly,
being provided with school building level training was ranked to be the least beneficial
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
25
way to provide training with articles being provided ranking next. The remaining
methods were distributed evenly.
Table 5
Ranking of Preferred Delivery Method for Receiving Training about Inclusive Education (N = 59).
Delivery Method
%
Out of district training
Most beneficial
24
Least beneficial
31
Neutral
33
Coursework at college/university
Most beneficial
11
Least beneficial
39
Neutral
40
District level in-service training
Most beneficial
19
Least beneficial
18
Neutral
23
Consultation with special education teacher
Most beneficial
15
Least beneficial
15
Neutral
59
School building level training
Most beneficial
5
Least beneficial
61
Neutral
24
Consultation with school psychologist
Most beneficial
20
Least beneficial
24
Neutral
46
Articles (provided)
Most beneficial
14
Least beneficial
46
Neutral
39
*Note. Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding
f
16
21
22
7
26
26
26
24
9
10
10
39
3
40
16
13
16
30
9
33
17
Table 6
Frequencies of Total Individual Responses in Each Subdomain on the Teacher Survey
Responses
Subdomain
Student Variables
Q5
Q6
Q7
Q8
Q9
Q18
Q20
Q21
Q22
Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Agree
25.2%
3.7%
10.6%
5.2%
1.3%
2.6%
23.4%
32.5%
24.7%
35.3%
17.6%
4.5%
41.6%
27.3%
24.7%
42.9%
49.4%
49.4%
15.2%
36.4%
53.0%
37.7%
40.3%
9.4%
31.2%
16.9%
19.5%
Strongly Agree
24.3%
42.3%
8.8%
15.6%
29.9%
23.4%
2.6%
4.4%
5.2%
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Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
26
36.2%
24.5%
19.3%
20.0%
Peer Support
Q3
Q17
Q23
Strongly Disagree
3.9%
5.2%
1.3%
Disagree
11.7%
9.1%
7.8%
Agree
64.9%
64.9%
66.2%
Strongly Agree
19.5%
19.5%
23.4%
Admin Support
Q10
Q15
Q29
Strongly Disagree
2.5%
18.2%
3.5%
Disagree
4.7%
40.3%
11.6%
Agree
37.7%
24.7%
52.2%
Strongly Agree
5.2%
16.9%
32.7%
Collaboration
Q4
Q19
Q24
Q32
Q33
Strongly Disagree
2.6%
0%
3.9%
69.5%
63.5%
Disagree
22.1%
33.8%
15.5%
13.6%
13.6%
Agree
61.0%
8.1%
66.4%
9.1%
12.4%
Training
Ql
Q2
Q11
Q12
Q13
Q14
Q16
Q25
Q26
Q27
Q28
Q30
Q34
Strongly Disagree
11.7%
15.6%
53.2%
16.9%
11.7%
42.9%
5.2%
22.1%
36.8%
24.2%
12.2%
49.7%
14.8%
Disagree
35.1%
22.1%
40.3%
39.0%
28.6%
35.1%
26.0%
18.2%
18.4%
27.2%
13.7%
27.6%
13.7%
Agree
15.6%
49.4%
5.2%
33.8%
42.9%
18.2%
55.8%
53.2%
42.1%
24.2%
58.6%
13.4%
64.2%
Strongly Agree
14.4%
16.9%
3.0%
7.8%
10.2%
Strongly Agree
15.6%
13.0%
1.3%
10.4%
15.6%
.6%
13.0%
6.5%
2.6%
21.2%
15.5%
9.3%
7.3%
Discussion
The results of this study suggest that no significant difference existed between
male and female teachers in relation to their attitudes regarding their preparedness to
teach in inclusive education.
A difference was found in regards to attitude and teacher age. Teachers below the
age of 36 held a significantly more positive attitude (p<.0005) towards being prepared for
inclusive education than teachers in any other age bracket specified for this study (i.e.,
36-45 and above 45). According to Scruggs and Mastropieri (1996), general education
teachers' attitudes and beliefs about instructing students with disabilities are learned and
appear to be influenced by the amount of knowledge they have with regard to a particular
individual or group. Similarly, Cook (2001) revealed that teacher attitudes about
inclusion in their classrooms stemmed from their lack of confidence and perceived lack
of proper training in that area.
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
27
Given the relationship between attitude and exposure or training, the significantly
higher attitude measured in teachers below the age of 36 may be attributed to their having
more exposure to teaching exceptional learners than their older counterparts. Given this,
it would likely be very beneficial for university level teacher training programs to ensure
that coursework in teaching children with special needs be provided to their trainees,
particularly because inclusion will likely become more prevalent in the classrooms over
the next ten years as a result of the increasingly more stringent federal and state mandates
promoting inclusive education.
When examining the educational levels of teachers, no difference was detected in
teachers who held a Bachelor's degree, Bachelor's +30 hours, Master's degree, or
Master's+30 hours. Similarly, no difference was found with teachers who taught at the
elementary, middle, or secondary levels. Interestingly, previous research suggested that a
difference in attitude towards inclusive education existed among elementary, middle, and
high school level teachers (Hammond & Ingalls, 2003; Hastings & Oakford, 2003).
The number of years teaching at their current teaching level did not appear to
influence teacher attitude. The attitude remained generally positive no matter how long
the teachers have been working at their current teaching level. Neither the total number
of years teaching nor the number of years teachers spent teaching children with special
needs appeared to have an influence on the measure of attitude. Indeed, teachers
expressed a generally neutral attitude despite the numbers of years they spent teaching
students with special needs in their class.
Table 4 shows their rankings of the delivery method was associated with the three
categories. Teacher respondents revealed that out-of-district training was believed to be
most beneficial, while consulting with a school psychologist ranked second ahead of
district level in-service training. Providing school building level training was clearly
believed to be the least beneficial method of providing training. The remaining methods
were fairly evenly split. Given research suggesting that exposure and training in teaching
children with special needs influences teacher attitude toward inclusive education, it is
worthwhile to examine how teachers believe that they best be trained. Additionally, the
lack of appropriate training is a key factor in preventing positive teacher attitudes towards
inclusion. Thus, it can be suggested that teachers would be more receptive and make
more gains when exposed to training programs they perceive as most beneficial. The
participants in this study were unable to recommend other training methods or topics they
would like to see included in their training to prepare them to teach students with special
needs.
Within the Peer Support Subdomain, teachers were in general agreement that they
have the support of their peers when dealing with special needs students in the regular
classroom setting. As suggested by the literature, Leatherman and Neimeyer (2005), peer
support is a key factor in influencing a teacher’s attitude towards teaching students with
special needs.
Buford & Casey
Volume 2, Issue 2, November, 2012
28
In regards to the Administrative Support Subdomain, most teachers surveyed
believed that they could approach their administrators with concerns when teaching
students with special needs. However, most of them believed that their administrators
did not provide adequate support, materials, or time to attend conferences addressing the
issues they faced in the classroom when dealing with special needs students.
Within the Collaboration Subdomain, teachers reported they were in general
agreement that collaboration between the regular education and special education
teachers has a positive outcome. They were also in agreement that both special education
and regular education teachers should be accountable for teaching special needs students.
In regards to the Training Subdomain, teachers believed that their training
equipped them adequately for students with disabilities, such as speech and language
impairments and learning disabilities. Most teachers, however, did not believe their
educational background prepared them to teach students with cognitive delays and delays
in daily living skills. In fact they believed they needed more training to teach students
with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for learning problems.
It is important that changes need to occur in teacher preparation programs for the
concept of inclusion to be fully understood and accepted. Carroll, Forlin and Jobling
(2003) noted that general and special education programs continue to operate under a
dual system at many universities. Teacher training programs tend to follow a model that
prepares regular education teachers to expect to teach regular education students and
special education teachers to teach special education students. Regular education
teachers then, may feel ill equipped and overwhelmed by the prospect of teaching
children with special needs. Teaching programs need to prepare teachers to work with all
children. Since teachers set the tone of classrooms, the success of inclusion programs
may very well depend upon the attitudes of teachers as they interact with students who
have disabilities.
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