04 SES 08 A, Innovating Teacher Training To Promote Inclusive education: Case Analyses
With the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, there are numerous questions concerning the implementation of inclusive learning processes in primary school. One important question concerns the enhancement of pre-service and in-service teachers’ competencies for inclusive learning processes in schools. In particular, the cooperation of primary school teachers and special needs teachers is regarded as an important prerequisite for children’s successful learning processes in inclusive schools. Following Saloviita and Takala (2010), cooperation in inclusive classrooms (“team-teaching”) occurs when two or more teachers equally manage learning processes and assume the responsibility for all children. The configuration of learning processes which teachers master successfully in teams is correlated to their attitudes and their self-efficacy beliefs (e.g., Hamman, Lechtenberger, Griffin-Shirley, & Zhou, 2013). However, studies give evidence that there are also various challenges when teachers cooperate in inclusive classrooms, such as different ideas of managing learning processes for the individual children, working agreements, competencies and responsibilities as well as role clarities (e.g., Nel, Engelbrecht, Nel, & Tlale, 2014; Shaffer & Thomas-Braun, 2015). For example, teachers and special needs teachers differ in their attitudes towards team-teaching and in their perceptions of responsibilities in class (Stefanidis & Strogilos, 2015). Teachers and special needs teachers evaluate team-teaching as not successful, when essential structures are missing and when personal relationships are difficult (e.g., Gurgur & Uzuner, 2011; Kritikos & Birnbaum, 2003). Important prerequisites for successful team-teaching in inclusive classrooms are thus experiences with team-teaching as well as professional instructions. In the recent years, studies provided evidence for the enhancement of pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs concerning the organization of inclusive education and their attitudes towards inclusion through their participation in university courses concerning inclusion-related questions (e.g., Kopp, 2009). At this point, self-efficacy beliefs are understood as the perceived ability of oneself in regard to achieve specific aims (Bandura, 1997). The term attitude is defined as “a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favour or disfavour” (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993, p. 1). Additionally, it could be shown that trainings on collaborative structures foster pre-service teachers’ knowledge about team-teaching strategies in the inclusive classrooms (Frey & Kaff, 2014). Pre-service teachers’ perceived cooperation in designing learning environments in teams turned out to be an important determinant for their self-efficacy beliefs regarding the organization of inclusive education (Hamman et al., 2013).
Currently, it is not yet fully clear how pre-service teachers can be prepared for team-teaching in inclusive classrooms and how their attitudes towards inclusion as well as their self-efficacy beliefs concerning the organization of inclusive education can be positively influenced during the course of their studies.
Thus, we therefore investigate possibilities of pre-service primary school teachers’ and pre-service special needs teachers’ cooperative learning processes concerning their qualifications for inclusive education in primary school. Our research project that is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) was divided into two aims: On the one hand, we designed a concept to foster pre-service primary school teachers’ and pre-service special needs teachers’ competencies regarding their cooperation in inclusive education. On the other hand, we examined possibilities and limits of this concept on the basis of a quasi-experimental study. In view of the theoretical background and the described findings, we assume that pre-service primary school teachers’ and pre-service special needs teachers’ participation in a training on team-teaching strategies significantly leads to positive changes in their knowledge about team-teaching structures in inclusive education as well as in their self-efficacy beliefs regarding inclusive education and their attitudes towards inclusion.
In our study, N=124 pre-service primary school teachers and pre-service special needs teachers from an university in Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia) participated in a training to acquire competencies concerning their cooperation in inclusive education. At the time of the investigation, pre-service teachers studied in the ‘Master of Education’-program. In detail, 105 female and 19 male students participated in our study. Students’ average age was 24 years (M=24.27, SD=2.45). On the basis of pre- and post-questionnaires, we investigated whether a training on team-teaching strategies significantly leads to positive changes in their knowledge about team-teaching structures in inclusive education as well as in their self-efficacy beliefs regarding inclusive education and their attitudes towards inclusion. Therefore, the pre-service teachers were randomly assigned to an experimental-group and a control-group. Both study groups were approximately in the same size of students. The students of the experimental-group participated in a training on team-teaching strategies, whereas the students of the control-group did not receive any special support in this field. The experimental-groups’ training on team-teaching strategies comprised several units: The students became familiar with different forms of team-teaching strategies for the organization of inclusive education, they discussed advantages and disadvantages of various cooperative settings and they were confronted with problem-oriented case studies. On the basis of pre- and post-questionnaires, the experimental-group and the control-group provided information on their self-efficacy beliefs regarding inclusive education as well as on their attitudes towards inclusion. Additionally, they fulfilled a test concerning their knowledge about team-teaching strategies. In detail, the pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs (8 items, e.g., “I’m sure, that I can organize inclusive learning processes, so that children with special educational needs can profit as well”; αpre=.93/αpost=.93) were measured on the basis of a questionnaire scale, which we adopted from the work of Kopp (2009). Furthermore, the pre-service teachers provided information on their attitudes towards inclusion (8 items, e.g., “Children with special educational needs find better support in inclusive classrooms than in special needs schools”; αpre=.79/αpost=.82). The questionnaire scale’ items which we adopted were originally developed by Kunz, Luder and Moretti (2010). The pre-service teachers made their assessments on 5-point Likert scales in each case. Finally, the pre-service teachers edited a test concerning their knowledge about team-teaching strategies (36 items, e.g., “Please specify conditional factors for successful team-teaching processes in inclusive classrooms”; αpre=.86/αpost=.89). For the evaluation of our hypotheses, we applied variance analyses with repeated measurements.
The results of our study give evidence that the experimental-group’s pre-service teachers significantly profited from the training on team-teaching strategies. Compared to the members of the control-group (Mpre=12.02, SDpre=5.69; Mpost=12.53, SDpost=5.41), the experimental-group performed better in the test concerning their knowledge about team-teaching strategies (Mpre=11.88, SDpre=5.98; Mpost=25.55, SDpost=3.87). The results of a variance analysis with repeated measurements reveal that the members of the experimental-group significantly benefited from the training compared to the members of the control-group: F(1, 122)=123.53, p≤.001, η²=.50. However, the experimental-group’s pre-service teachers (Mpre=3.21, SDpre=.75; Mpost=3.32, SDpost=.72) did not significantly profit from the training on team-teaching strategies in regards to their self-efficacy beliefs concerning the organization of inclusive education compared to the control-groups’ pre-service teachers (Mpre=3.24, SDpre=.78; Mpost=3.41, SDpost=.62): F(1, 121)=.18, p=.68, η²=.00. The pre-service teachers of the experimental-group (Mpre=3.19, SDpre=.37; Mpost=3.53, SDpost=.60) as well as those of the control-group (Mpre=3.13, SDpre=.35; Mpost=3.43, SDpost=.59) did not significantly differ in their attitudes towards inclusion from the first to the second time of measurement: F(1, 121)=.12, p=.73, η²=.00. In summary, the results of our study give indications for effects of a training on team-teaching strategies on pre-service primary school teachers’ and pre-service special needs teachers’ knowledge about team-teaching structures in the inclusive classroom. Contrary to our expectations, the designed training on team-teaching strategies does not significantly influence pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion and their self-efficacy beliefs regarding the organization of inclusive education. According to Bandura (1997), it can be assumed that pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs can be better influenced by their own experiences from inclusive education than by theoretical introductions on team-teaching strategies in the inclusive classroom. In further studies, the unexpected findings concerning the impact of trainings on team-teaching structures on pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion and their self-efficacy beliefs need to be taken into consideration more precisely.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: Freeman. Eagly, A. H. & Chaiken, S. (1993). The psychology of attitudes. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Frey, L. M. & Kaff, M. S. (2014). Results of co-teaching instruction to special education teacher candidates in Tanzania. Journal of the International Association of Special Education, 15(1), 4–15. Gurgur, H. & Uzuner, Y. (2011). Examining the implementation of two co-teaching models: Team teaching and station teaching. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(6), 589–610. Hamman, D., Lechtenberger, D., Griffin-Shirley, N., & Zhou, L. (2013). Beyond exposure to collaboration: Preparing general-education teacher candidates for inclusive practice. The Teacher Educator, 48(4), 244–256. Kopp, B. (2009). Inklusive Überzeugung und Selbstwirksamkeit im Umgang mit Heterogenität. Wie denken Studierende des Lehramts für Grundschulen? [Inclusive beliefs and self-efficacy in exposure to heterogeneity. How do elementary school teacher trainees think?]. Empirische Sonderpädagogik, 1(1), 5–25. Kritikos, E. P. & Birnbaum, B. (2003). General education and special education teachers’ beliefs regarding collaboration. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 12(3), 93–100. Kunz, A., Luder, R., & Moretti, M. (2010). Die Messung von Einstellungen zur Integration (EZI) [Measuring attitudes toward inclusion]. Empirische Sonderpädagogik, 2(3), 83–94. Nel, M., Engelbrecht, P., Nel, N., & Tlale, D. (2014). South African teachers’ views of collaboration within an inclusive education system. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 18(9), 903–917. Saloviita, T. & Takala, M. (2010). Frequency of co-teaching in different teacher categories. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 25(4), 389–396. Shaffer, L. & Thomas-Brown, K. (2015). Enhancing teacher competency through co-teaching and embedded professional development. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 3(3), 117–125. Stefanidis, A. & Strogilos, V. (2015). Union gives strength: Mainstream and special education teachers’ responsibilities in inclusive co-taught classrooms. Educational Studies, 41(4), 393–413.
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