ERG SES D 01, Inclusive Education
Teachers’ Attitudes and Willingness Towards Inclusive Education Practices in One Secondary School in Kazakhstan: An Ethnographic Study
During the last decades, inclusion in education has become adopted and recognized all over the world (UNESCO, OECD, 2009). However, the term is interpreted in various ways depending on the schooling organization, political context and educational beliefs (Kozleski, Artiles, Fletcher, & Engelbrecht, 2007). It is also considered differently depending on the cultural context. According to Ainscow (2005), each country might define inclusion in a unique way through connecting its meaning in compliance with the four key elements that contribute to the meaning of inclusion. Hence, to promote inclusive practices not only educational and sociological aspects of relationships but cultural aspect and historical and political contexts should be considered (Ainscow, 2005).
The history of implementation in Kazakhstan has started with the “defectology” approach in education that was aimed at treating children with disabilities in special school isolated from society. This practice was quite common until the signing of the Convention of the Child’s Rights and initiation of the educational reforms in 1994, which are now actively supported in the ‘State Programme of education development 2011-2020' (2010). Among the plans of educational changes the implementation of inclusive school practices in mainstream schools around the country up to 100% by the year 2020 despite the lack of resources, teachers, knowledge and accommodation in schools.
Studies have revealed that “teacher attitudes and expectations are significant barriers to the successful implementation of inclusive classrooms” (Amravidis, 2000; Makoelle, 2009) and “equitable participation of all students” (as cited in Leatherman et al, 2005). The issue of attitudes and beliefs has always been popular in research internationally. However, fewer colleagues are focusing on the deeper phenomena of inclusion as willingness or practices to implement inclusion into practice. Even less research has been done in the context of Kazakhstan, thus this paper will contribute to fulfilling the gap.
A teacher plays a key role in the successful implementation of inclusion (Avramidis, Bayliss, & Burden, 2000; Avramidis & Norwich, 2002; Rutar, 2012). Teacher’s attitude is essential when forming the policies of inclusion, its practices and acceptance (as cited in Avramidis et al, 2000) as it is the teacher who performs in class and his or her beliefs are reflected in the actions performed in class. Moreover, a teacher's performance is motivated by the attitude and beliefs of a teacher (Wang Elicker, Mac Mullen & Mao, 2008). That is why teachers’ attitudes may affect negatively or positively the process of implementation into practices.
This study aims to explore the phenomenon of inclusive practices at school in terms of its implementation on the lessons and in the school organization level in general. It also will investigate the attitudes of teachers towards inclusive education and its effectiveness regarding all children in school. Therefore, the following questions are going to navigate the direction of this study:
How the concept of inclusion is interpreted, known and accepted?
How does the curriculum correspond to the needs of inclusive education?
Do teachers have the teaching skills and methodological tools to support inclusive education?
What are teachers’ willingness to support inclusive policies to satisfy the needs of every child in the classroom?
The research paradigm used in this paper is constructivism positing that persons perceive the knowledge from the surrounding world through interaction with other individuals and environment (Highfield & Bisman, 2012). According to the constructivists, the researcher mainly relies on the feedback from participants given through the talks and other realias related to the research questions (as cited in Highfield & Bisman, 2012). Therefore, all realities are relevant and valid.
The study is going to be conducted in the one mainstream secondary school in the South-Eastern part of Kazakhstan that positioned itself as being completely inclusive. This school has a rich history of development from a special school to the one that implemented the inclusive education policies. This school is a piloting one and a lot of work is being done to translate the inclusive education experience to the other schools in the region. There will be approximately two or three months to visit the school from one to two days per week to observe classes and talk to teachers. It is planned to observe between 60 to 80 hours of lessons in primary and secondary school. Additionally, extra-curricular classes and events at school will be visited depending on the timetable the school will provide. My participation in lessons is excluded as it might affect the research results and validity. I will try to conduct non-participant observations as much covert as possible not to disturb a usual routine in class. Another method I will employ is having semi-structured interviews to talk to about five teachers except my everyday informal interviews that will happen during my fieldwork. I constructed some questions to guide me during the interview of teachers and the school principal. The questions are constructed in a way to answer my main research question but are more of the open nature to encourage teachers and the principal to share their life stories, beliefs and opinions (Rubin & Rubin, 2005). They are based on the examples from the literature review of similar studies (Savolainen et al, 2011;Movkebaieva et al, 2013) Lastly, document analysis will inform the study in terms of the context, policies and administrative processes at school and the rest of the information concerning the students. It is necessary to be carefully planned and commented over the study in order to better understand the reasons for teaching approaches or decisions taken in class, and possible requirements for teachers at school from the administrators. Among the documents I expect to analyse are professional development plans and timetables, events schedules for the school and medical reports on children. These documents will consist the triangulation of the methods in this research and add more objectivity and validity to the study as this is “not part of social setting” (Hatch, 2002, p.25).
Mainly, we expect to observe the best positive practices used in school to implement the process of inclusive education on different levels: whole school, in class and relationships of individuals and teacher-student relationships. During the observations of the school principal and administration governings to teachers and parents we are aiming to see good examples of motivation of employers and school policies in general. Then observing classes, we expect to see the examples of differentiation and support proposed to students by teachers. While talking to teachers and other educators we might compare what they say to their actions in class that ideally should match our observations. Though it is difficult to describe in advance the results we expect, as results are usually formed based on observations and interviews during the ethnographic studies. In the process of data collection teachers will try to show their best approach to teaching and efficacy that is beneficial as for them so for learners. Additionally, interviews will be seen as reflection of their practices and opinions and as it was proved by Makoelle (2012) even a small reflection is quite effective in terms of changing the minds of teachers as a result. To conclude, this research will contribute to the educational research in inclusion not only by the fact that it had been conducted in the context of Kazakhstan but also the methodology that has been chosen. Due to there is almost no ethnographic studies in education have been done so far in the issue, especially. For the policy implementation process this research is of a high value too as it will be interesting to see an objective inside from the site and reflect on how the inclusion policies are being interpreted by educators and other participants in our country.
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