04 SES 02 B, New Insights From Researching Inclusive Education In Europe And Beyond
While many countries have legislation or policies that support inclusion, progress in school systems and general acceptance in the educational community to implement inclusion vary significantly across countries (Misera & Gebhart, 2018; Saloviita & Schaffus, 2016; Sharma, Aiello, Pace, Round & Subban, 2017; Sharma, Forlin & Loreman, 2008). A key player in ensuring success of inclusive practices in any system are school teachers. When teachers have adequate knowledge and skills, truly believe in the idea of including learners with diverse abilities and are supported in their efforts to teach in inclusive classrooms, they do include all learners. Why are some teachers more supportive of including learners with diverse abilities and others not? A number of researchers have looked at this question and have identified few core psychosocial constructs (e.g. attitudes, self-efficacy and concerns; de Boer, Pijl & Minnaert, 2011; Sharma et al., 2008) that could explain teachers’ use of inclusive practices. One key variable that in turn is reported to be the strongest predictor of teachers’ actual inclusive classroom practices is their intentions to include learners with diverse abilities (Ajzen, 1991; Sharma & Jacobs, 2016). It thus makes sense to understand how different variables influence teachers’ intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms. It may also be informative to learn about how different variables across different country contexts influence teachers’ intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms. In this study we compared intentions of in-service teachers from Australia and Switzerland and identify variables that influence this variable.
The comparison of in-service teachers from the two countries will be interesting as the two countries have different systems and legislative mandates guiding implementation of inclusive practices. Australia has strong legislative system that support use of inclusive practices. Schools can’t refuse to enroll a student irrespective of type and level of disability. More recently teacher education programs have been revised nationally and all new graduates are expected to have completed subjects in inclusive education. Some state jurisdictions have also mandated in-service teachers to undertake professional programs in inclusive education. Switzerland has an historically clearly separate system of education for children with special education needs (SEN), with regional differences due to strong federalization. Although these differences continue to persist, with the “Sonderpädagogik-Konkordat” (an inter-cantonal agreement on cooperation in the field of special education), there are efforts to standardize educational policy and practices regarding special education across the cantons, with the cantons themselves committing to foster integration of students with SEN into regular schools (16 out of 26 cantons have signed the agreement up to now). Switzerland also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD; United Nations, 2006) in 2014. Despite these efforts, the Swiss education system is still largely characterized by educational tracking and separation (Sahli Lozano, Vetterli, & Wyss, 2018). Depending on the canton, children with SEN can be taught either in regular schools, in special classes, or in special schools. Some cantons have dissolved special classes and currently integrate students with SEN into regular classes where possible. In some cases, the number of pupils attending a special school is even on the rise again, rather than decreasing (Pfister, Eckhart, & Bärtschi, 2012).
To assess teachers’ attitudes, concerns, efficacy and intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms, a five-part survey questionnaire adapted from Sharma et al. (2018) was used. The five parts consist of (Part 1) the eight item Attitudes towards Inclusion Scale (AIS) (Sharma and Jacobs, 2016), (Part 2) the 21 item Concerns about Inclusive Education Scale (CIES) (Sharma & Desai, 2002), (Part 3) the 18 item Teacher Efficacy for Inclusive Practices Scale (Sharma, Loreman & Forlin, 2012), (Part 4) the Intention to Teach in Inclusive Classroom Scale (ITICS) (Sharma & Jacobs, 2016) and (Part 5) further background information of the participants (e.g., self-rated experience and success in teaching students with SEN; gender, age). For the Swiss sample, a German version of the questionnaire was used which was translated and validated in a large sample of pre-service students in Germany by Misera, DeVries, Jungjohann and Gebhardt (2018). The scales have been used internationally and yield sufficient reliability scores across different contexts (Sharma et al., 2016; Misera et al., 2018). Data collection in Switzerland was undertaken from administrative departments of primary and secondary schools (mainly in the canton of Bern). An online survey link was shared to the schools and invited teachers to respond. A similar method of data collection was employed in Australia where participants completed an online survey using survey monkey. Swiss sample comprises N = 977 in-service teachers teaching at primary or secondary school. Australian sample consisted of 314 primary and secondary school teachers. Data was analysed using multiple regression analysis to determine what factors predicted Australian and Swiss teachers’ intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms. We also analysed data to determine how participants from two countries differed in their attitude, concerns and teaching efficacy scores.
We expect slightly different models to emerge for participants from both countries. We anticipate that participants from Australia may have high level of teaching efficacy to include learners with diverse abilities. We also expect that concerns of participants from the two countries will vary as the systems put different demands on the educators in two countries. As in previous studies (e.g. Ahmmed et al., 2013; Sharma 2017), we expect attitudes, concerns and self-efficacy to be significant predictors for the intention to teach in inclusive classrooms. The implications of findings for researchers, policy makers and teacher educators will be discussed that will have high relevance to the international audience.
Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T De Boer, A., Pijl, S. J., & Minnaert, A. (2011). Regular primary schoolteachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education: a review of the literature. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(3), 331–353. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110903030089Miesera, S., DeVries, J. M., Jungjohann, J., & Gebhardt, M. (2018). Correlation between attitudes, concerns, self-efficacy and teaching intentions in inclusive education evidence from German pre-service teachers using international scales. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs. https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-3802.12432 Miesera, S., & Gebhardt, M. (2018). Inclusive vocational schools in Canada and Germany. A comparison of vocational pre-service teachers′ attitudes, self-efficacy and experiences towards inclusive education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2017.1421599 Pfister, M., Eckhart,M., & Bärtschi, S. (2012). Intergierte Sonderklassenschülerinnen und –schüler. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Heilpädagogik, 9, 22 – 30. Sahli Lozano, C., Vetterli, R., & Wyss, A. (2018). Prozesse inklusiver Schulentwicklung. Theoretische Grundlagen und Filmbeispiele aus der Praxis. Schulverlag Plus AG: Bern. Saloviita, T., & Schaffus, T. (2016). Teacher attitudes towards inclusive education in Finland and Brandenburg, Germany and the issue of extra work. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 31(4), 458–471. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2016.1194569 Sharma, U., Aiello, P., Pace, E.M., & Subban, P. (2018) In-service teachers’ attitudes, concerns, efficacy and intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms: an international comparison of Australian and Italian teachers, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 33:3, 437-446, DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2017.1361139 Sharma, U., Forlin, C., & Loreman, T. (2008). Impact of training on pre‐service teachers’ attitudes and concerns about inclusive education and sentiments about persons with disabilities. Disability & Society, 23(7), 773–785. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687590802469271 Sharma, U., & Jacobs, D. K. (2016). Predicting in-service educators’ intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms in India and Australia. Teaching and Teacher Education, 55, 13–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2015.12.004 Sharma, U., Loreman, T., & Forlin, C. (2012). Measuring teacher efficacy to implement inclusive practices. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 12(1), 12–21. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-3802.2011.01200.x United Nations (2006). 15. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html
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