04 SES 09 E, Is Inclusive Education Making a Difference? Evidences from Research
Research on the outcomes of inclusive education has increased since the number of students with special educational needs (SEN) in regular schools has grown. Many of those studies focus on cognitive outcomes. However, in order to reach inclusion in a broader sense than cognitive participation, the socio-affective development of students with and without SEN can be seen as a vital outcome of inclusive education (Venetz, Zurbriggen & Eckhart, 2014). As previous studies have shown, especially students with SEN tend to struggle in their academic self-concept (Weber & Freund, 2017; Zurbriggen, Venetz, Schwab, & Hessels, 2017), their social inclusion (Schwab, 2015; Zurbriggen & Venetz, 2016), and partly in their emotional wellbeing (McCoy & Banks, 2012).
Academic emotions are depending on contextual variables and people (Pekrun & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2014). Positive and negative affects at school can be an indication for the quality of social interactions and emotional inclusion. Like Linnenbrink-Garcia, Rogat & Koskey (2011) showed, good small group interactions lead to positive emotions while a poor quality of group interactions goes along with negative affect.
Concerning the inclusion of students with SEN, significant correlations on a low to moderate level between affects and social inclusion, emotional inclusion, and students’ academic self-concept have been found (Venetz, Zurbriggen & Eckhart, 2014).
However, only little is known about how the relation between facets of perceived inclusion and emotional well-being is affected by moderating variables. A possible factor could be the motivational relationship to peers and teachers, as scholastic motivation being one component of a dynamic process involving the interactions between developing children and his or her school context, including peer relationships and teacher relationships (Raufelder et al., 2013).
While the student–student relationship has a strong influence on students' general well-being in school (Hascher, 2007), the teacher–student relationship is crucial for motivational aspects (Raufelder et al., 2013) like the need for learning support (Raufelder & Mohr, 2011).
Research Questions and Hypotheses
The aim of our study is to examine the correlations and dependencies between students’ perception of inclusion, their emotional well-being and their motivational relationship to peers and teachers.
We assume that peer dependency in students’ motivation is positively related to perceived social inclusion. Teacher-dependent students may feel more supported by their teachers and show better academic achievement. Therefore, we assume that students’ academic self-concept is positively correlated with teachers as positive motivators. Lastly we assume that emotional well-being at school is positively linked to both motivational orientations as well as to students’ perception of inclusion, particularly emotional inclusion.
Methods In order to investigate our research questions we conducted a longitudinal study with a cross-lagged-panel-design. Data were collected as part of the Austrian study Attitudes Towards Inclusive Schooling - Students, Teachers and Parents (ATIS-STEP). Fourth grade students from 48 inclusive classes (classes with at least one student with a SEN diagnosis) participated in the study. In Austria, if there are at least three students with SEN in one inclusive class a special needs teacher often teaches in the same class for nearly the whole amount of teaching hours (see Schwab, 2014). In the present study survey data from the first (September to October 2016) and second measurement point (May to June 2017) were used. The questionnaires were administered in paper and pencil format. In the total sample, 721 fourth grade students (364 boys, 357 girls, predominantly aged 9-11 years) participated at T1. Approximately one eighth of the students (12.8%) were diagnosed as having SEN, mostly regarding learning disabilities. To assess students’ perceived social inclusion, emotional inclusion and their academic self-concept, we used the Perceptions of Inclusion Questionnaire (PIQ; Venetz, Zurbriggen, Eckhart, Schwab, & Hessels, 2015). The three subscales, social inclusion (PIQ-SI; e.g. ‘I have a lot of friends in my class.’), emotional inclusion (PIQ-EI; e.g. ‘I like going to school.’) and academic self-concept (PIQ-AS; e.g. ‘I am able to solve very difficult exercises.’) consist of 4 items and are answered on a four-point Likert-scale ranging from ‘not at all true’ (1) to ‘certainly true’ (4). Affective traits were measured by the PANA short-scales (PANAVA-KS; Schallberger, 2005). Although originally developed as two distinctive mood scales to comprise positive and negative affect, we combined the eight bipolar items (e.g. ‘bored’ vs. ‘enthusiastic’ as high-end-markers on a 7-point scale) to assess emotional well-being – defined as a sense of positive affective moods with simultaneous absence of negative affect. Therefore, we reversed the polarity of the NA-items to assess positive valence. The Relationship and Motivation (REMO) scales measure perceptions of peers and teachers as motivators of school performance. This instrument examines how students differentially rely on teachers and/or peers as sources of their motivation (Raufelder et al., 2013). For our purpose we used two REMO-scales: Peers as Positive Motivators (REMO-P) and Teachers as Positive Motivators (REMO-T), both answered on a 4-point Likert-scale from ‘totally disagree’ (1) to ‘totally agree’ (4).
Preliminary Results All scales showed acceptable to high reliabilities (lowest: PIQ-SIT1 α=.63; highest: PIQ-EIT2 α=.88). In a first step, we had a look at the correlations between the PANA scale, PIQ- and REMO- subscales as well as longitudinal correlations within and between the scales. As to T1, social inclusion (PIQ-SI) was significantly positively related to peers as positive motivators (REMO-P). Also, academic self-concept (PIQ-AS) was significantly related to teachers as positive motivators (REMO-T), but on a very weak level. Emotional inclusion (PIQ-EI) was significantly related to emotional well-being (PANA). Comparable correlations apply for T2 on a slightly higher level. Longitudinal correlations (T1/T2) within each scale were significant on a moderate to high level (rs=.33 to rs=.64; all p≤.01). Between scales only weak longitudinal relations could be found. Further cross-sectional correlational analyses showed significant relations of emotional well-being (PANA) to social inclusion (rs=.32/.31; p≤.01) and academic self-concept (rs=.36/.39; p≤.01). However, motivational orientation (REMO) was weakly related to the PIQ sub-scales (.16≤rs≤25; all p≤.01). Still on a weak level, REMO scales were significantly related to emotional well-being, with Teachers as Positive Motivators (REMO-TT2) showing highest correlations. Discussion and Intent Students’ perceptions of inclusion seem to be related to students’ emotional well-being at school. These findings replicate former studies (Venetz, Zurbriggen & Eckhart, 2014). Moderating variables such as the motivational orientation towards peers and teachers might affect these relations, but preliminary results show weak relations. As research is in progress, some correlations might be over- or underestimated. Structural equation modeling and multiple regression analyses will consider the cross-legged-panel-design to investigate (partial) correlations and dependencies. Findings will be presented at the conference. This study has several limitations, like self-report assessments with students with SEN and global estimations of domain-specific variables. Further limitations and implications will be discussed.
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