04 SES 11 B, Implementing Inclusive Practices: Factors triggering feelings of hope or anxiety among future and in-service teachers
This paper presents the findings of a study conducted at the beginning of a continuous professional development course aimed at preparing teachers interested in obtaining the warrant to work as Learning Support Teachers in the province of Salerno (Italy). This study formed part of a broader research regarding the identification of variables that impinge on teachers’ willingness to implement inclusive classroom practices. The research hypothesis was that teachers’ concerns regarding inclusive practices are among the influential variables which impinge on attitudes towards the behaviour. This is sustained in Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour (2011) as well as other cognitive-behavioural theories. In other words, the lower the teachers’ concerns, the higher is their willingness to put into practice new teaching skills and strategies that can foster inclusion in school contexts. The vast majority of course participants (N=177, n=156, 88%) responded to a questionnaire aimed at identifying the teachers’ concerns regarding resources, academic standards, acceptance and workload and the factors that, in their opinion, promote and hinder inclusive practices. This instrument included the 21-item Concerns about Inclusive Education Scale (CIES) (Sharma & Desai, 2002) and two open-ended questions asking respondents to identify three factors which they believe foster school inclusion and those that may hinder the implementation of such practices. Although the participants did not seem to have elevated levels of concerns, the themes that emerged in the qualitative analysis of the factors that may hinder inclusion reflected those items that totalled higher mean scores in the CIES scale. Among the factors that promote inclusive practices, the participants identified: the adoption of collaborative learning strategies, teachers’ values and principles regarding inclusion, collaboration among stakeholders and, an ‘adequate’ educational setting. These results are very much in line with those that have been reported over the years by various researchers both in Italy (Aiello et al., 2016; Vianello et al., 2015) and internationally (Forlin, Keen & Barrett, 2008; Round, Subban & Sharma, 2015; Sharma & Desai, 2002). Hence, this study continues to affirm the importance of designing tailor-made course programmes to ensure that teachers are not only equipped with pedagogical knowledge and teaching skills, but also with the necessary competencies to identify realistic solutions they feel they have control on to overcome their concerns.
Aiello, P., Sharma, U., Dimitrov, D.M., Di Gennaro, D.C., Pace, E.M., Zollo, I., & Sibilio, M. (2016a). Indagine sulle percezioni del livello di efficacia dei docenti e sui loro atteggiamenti nei confronti dell’inclusione. L’Integrazione Scolastica e Sociale, 15(1), pp. 64-87. Ajzen, I. (2011). The theory of planned behavior: Reactions and reflections. Psychology & Health, 26(9), pp. 1113-1127. Forlin, C., Keen, M., & Barrett, E. (2008). The concerns of mainstream teachers: Coping with inclusivity in an Australian context. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 55(3), pp. 251-264. Round, P.N., Subban, P.K., & Sharma, U. (2015). ‘I don’t have time to be this busy.’ Exploring the concerns of secondary school teachers towards inclusive education. International Journal of Inclusive Education. Sharma, U., & Desai, I. (2002). Measuring concerns about integrated education in India. Asia & Pacific Journal on Disability, 5(1), pp. 2-14. Vianello, R., Lanfranchi, S., Moalli, E., & Pulina, F. (2015). Tutti in classe normale. Le opinioni degli insegnanti, dei compagni e dei genitori. In R. Vianello & Di Nuovo, S. (Eds.), Quale scuola inclusiva in Italia? Oltre le posizioni ideologiche: risultati della ricerca (pp. 17-33). Trento: Erickson.
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