ERG SES D 09, Inclusive Education
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 13 December 2006. This Treaty was also signed by the European Union (on 30 March 2007). Germany committed itself to provide inclusive learning for all human beings by signing and ratifying this convention in 2009 (UN CRPD, article 24).
Throughout Europe and beyond a growing number of demands claim the necessity to increase teacher training courses focusing on inclusive teaching and learning strategies to promote inclusive practice and develop the ability to reflect as a ´skill´ of future teachers working in inclusive settings (Alexiadou & Essex 2016). For acting professionally in inclusive teaching-learning situations, the ability to reflect is highly emphasized within the discussion about teacher education and professionalization in Germany (KMK 2015). This ability seems to be particularly important in inclusive schools, due to the fact that demands for teachers are changing and are now becoming multidimensional as a result of an increasingly diverse student body (Zeichner & Liu 2010). Therefore, dealing with heterogeneity currently represents one of the biggest challenges to be faced by future teachers in Europe in general and specifically in Germany (Herzmann & König 2016). As a result, teacher education needs to tackle the question of how prospective teachers can be prepared for the challenges they will face within their future teaching practice. Consequentely, academic research and university studies are working on ways of how prospective teachers can be prepared for working in a rather complex field of occupation where they have to deal with the students’ heterogeneity and foster the ideas of an inclusive learning environment for all learners.
Reflective analysis of professional practice can be trained within the didactic learning format of research-based learning. Within such format, students design and experience a research process by reflecting essential phases (Huber 2009, Fichten & Meyer 2014, Brew & Mantai 2017). The research process can be stimulated by a research-based examination of questions coming from school practice and lead to a new relation of practical and scientific knowledge. Hence, new insights and open the possibilities for creating ideas for future ways of dealing with requirements of the school practice like coping with heterogeneity and working in inclusive schools can be generated. On the one hand research-based learning can promote an understanding of inclusion and exclusion by stimulating a specific reflection mode (Häcker & Walm 2015, Lindmeier & Lütje-Klose 2015). On the other hand the professionalization of prospective teachers can be supported by a critical analysis of inclusive teaching practice.
Reflection can be understood as a cognitive process in which experiences are structured or restructured (Korthagen 2010). The reference to scholastic teaching situations can be described as special determinants of reflection. Here conscious and active distancing from situations helps to reconstruct and anticipate future situations in school and challenges inquiring discussions (Leonhard & Rihm 2011).
This paper deals with the question of how reflective professionalization processes about inclusive teaching practice can be realized within the framework of academic research workshops (Forschungswerkstätten). To answer this question, empirical data from five research workshops carried out at the University of Hamburg are presented. Through a pre-post vignette study it will be analyzed to what extent a change in students' ability to reflect can be mapped.
Therefore, this paper deals in particular with the following research questions:
1.) How does the ability to reflect about inclusive teaching practice change within a seminar format of research-based learning?
2.) Which reflective modes do appear?
The study explores to what extent a change in students' reflection can be mapped. Therefore, a pre-post design within the context of research-based learning was planned. 65 teacher training students (Master level) attended the workshops for two semesters. At the beginning and at the end of the seminar a case vignette was presented to the students. The case vignette was fictitious and represented a dilemma situation. The students had to analyze this situation and to explain possible options how the situation might continue. The data were evaluated on the basis of structuring qualitative content analysis (Kuckartz 2016, Mayring 2014). To analyze the ability to reflect upon inclusive teaching practice, the width und depth of reflection was assessed (Leonhard & Rihm 2011). The width of reflection indicates the thematic aspects in dealing with the case vignette. The depth of reflection was analyzed by using a system of categories developed by Hatton and Smith (1995), classifying the complexity of the argumentation structure. These results were the basis for a typing qualitative content analysis by which eight types occurred (Kuckartz 2016, Mayring 2014).
The pre-post comparison shows that a change in the reflection width and depth of the students appears. The changes might be influenced by the critical analysis of inclusive teaching practice. An understanding of inclusion as well as a differentiation of possible options for action can be derived from the categories. Also, the depth of reflection has changed for some students. The eight identified types show up at both survey times, but a shift between the types can be demonstrated.
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