04 SES 04 E, "I Am Not A School Teacher, But...": Inclusion From Alternative Professional Viewpoints
Since the European Union has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN-CRPD) State Parties have to ensure an inclusive educational system at all levels (United Nations, 2006, Article 24, para. 1). An inclusive educational system allows all pupils equal participation in education, regardless of gender, socio-economic background or special learning needs. In order to increase inclusive education and to support children and young people with different kinds of disabilities and special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools, cooperation between different professions is essential. Such a cooperation is seen as main factor for successful education of pupils with and without disabilities (Meyer, 2017). Research show, that collaborating in multi-professional teams is socially supportive, emotionally relieving and it enables to bring in a wide range of expertise, which have positive effects on the quality of work and pupils’ academic progress (Meyer et al., 2017). But successful cooperation between different professionals is not always easy to achieve. Various needs have been identified regarding cooperative teaching in inclusive classrooms, such as sufficient time for planning or a necessity of training (Scruggs et al., 2007). In the context of inclusive education, paraprofessionals become an increasingly prominent role in supporting children and young people with disabilities in mainstream classroom and thus, the cooperation between teachers and paraprofessionals is crucial (Meyer, 2017). Although there is only few research, it can be assumed that similar factors influence the collaboration between teachers and paraprofessionals. Previous research showed that the different conditions of the professions’ employment and the related status in school hierarchies (Meyer et al., 2017), the missing time period for exchanging and joint planning, the missing qualification requirements (Lübeck, 2017) as well as self-efficacy beliefs of the involved professions influence the cooperation in multi-professional teams and furthermore a successful inclusive education (Walk & Beck, 2016). According to Bandura’s social cognitive theory (1993), efficacy beliefs influence how people feel, think, motivate themselves, behave, determine people’s choice of activities and how long they will sustain effort in dealing with stressful situations (Bandura, 1993). With regard to teachers, teachers’ self-efficacy include attributions about being able to handle difficult situations within the classroom and to meet the requirements of their profession even under adverse conditions. According to Woolfolk Hoy and Burke (2005), teacher’s self-efficacy is strongly related to successful inclusive education. Teacher with high self-efficacy beliefs are more open to new ideas, more flexible and willing to implement new methods and approaches and they engage longer with pupils who are struggling. Furthermore previous research has identified various factors influencing teachers’ self-efficacy for inclusive education. Next to teacher training programs, training in disabilities and inclusion (Leyser et al., 2011), teachers’ attitudes, their experience with inclusive education, their motivation to deal with inclusive education (Hellmich & Görel, 2014) as well as the collaboration in multi-professional teams are related to teachers’ self-efficacy (Guo et al., 2011).
Based on these findings, the presented cross-sectional study aimed to investigate Styrian paraprofessionals’ self-efficacy and associated factors such as qualification, experience with pupils with SEN and the collaboration with teachers in inclusive education. Therefore, we are trying to answer the following research questions:
1. To what extend do paraprofessionals perceive their actions as efficient for inclusive education?
2. Which factors are related to paraprofessional self-efficacy beliefs?
Data were collected from 89 paraprofessionals (87.6% woman; 12.4% men; mean age: M = 35 years; SD=10.52) by a cross-sectional online survey. The persons were employed by social service providers for people with disabilities in Styria (Austria). Beside socio-demographic information (e.g. sex, age) and information regarding the current job situation (e.g. disabilities of the supported child, work setting, highest level of education) standardized questionnaire scales were used: To assess paraprofessionals’ self-efficacy for inclusive education an adapted German version of the Teacher Efficacy for Inclusive Practices (TEIP) was applied. For the presented study, we included 10 of the 18 items, which were also applicable to paraprofessionals. For the adapted version, a five-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = ‘strongly disagree’ to 5 = ‘strongly agree’ was used (Cronbachs α = .91) (Feyerer et al., 2016). In order to record paraprofessionals’ assessment about their knowledge and skills in inclusive education, a translated and adapted version of the Council for Exceptional Children (2004) standards for paraeducators was used (Council for Exceptional Children, 2004). For the presented study, paraprofessionals were asked to rate their level of knowledge based on 15 items of the CEC standards on a three-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = ‘no knowledge’ to 3 = ‘substantial knowledge’ (Cronbachs α = .90). Finally, the Questionnaire on Teamwork (FAT) was used to assess the quality of the collaboration between paraprofessionals and teachers. This questionnaire consists of 12 person-oriented items (α = .74) and 11 structure-oriented items (α = .86) (Kauffeld, 2004). For the present study, 23 of the 24 items were used, measured by a four-point Likert scale, ranging from 1 = ‘never applies’ to 4 = ‘always applies’ (Cronbachs α = .88). The presented data were analyzed with the statistic software SPSS 23, using bivariate analysis. Firstly, we conducted Kolmogorv-Smirnov tests to determine the distribution of the data. The results showed that the data are not normally distributed. Hence, we calculated Spearman correlations to analyze the interaction between paraprofessionals’ self-efficacy and several aspects: age, work experience as paraprofessionals, knowledge about special education, assessment of feeling qualified due to previous training and collaboration with teachers. Because of the different levels of qualification, we used an univariate ANOVA to investigate differences between the highest level of education and paraprofessionals’ self-efficacy beliefs. Finally, we conducted a Kruskal-Wallis-Test to analyze differences between the assessment of their qualification due to training and highest educational level.
Results of the presented study revealed that Styrian paraprofessionals have a high self-efficacy for inclusive education (M = 4.14; SD = .69). Regarding their knowledge about special education paraprofessionals assessed their knowledge as “good” (M = 2.31; SD = .42). Additionally, a medium association between paraprofessionals’ assessment about their knowledge and their highest level of education was found (Cramer’s V = .36; p =.03). A detailed analysis indicated that 93.8% of the respondents with a vocational training for social workers as highest educational level assessed their knowledge about special education as most comprehensively. Furthermore, paraprofessionals’ assessment of feeling qualified due to their training was significantly affected by their highest educational level (H4 = 9.72; p = .05). Respondents with a high school degree as highest educational level scored lowest and those with a vocational training for social workers achieved the highest mean ranks. In addition, paraprofessionals’ with a vocational training for social workers perceived their actions as most efficient (M = 4.44; SD = .61). Finally, results showed that the variable “experiences as a paraprofessional” was not significantly related to paraprofessionals’ self-efficacy. In contrast, paraprofessional’s age (r = .28; p =.01), their knowledge (r = .62; p =.00), their attribution of feeling qualified due to their training (r = .45; p = .00) as well as the collaboration with teachers (r = .46; p =.00) were significantly related to their self-efficacy. Additionally, a significantly positive correlation between paraprofessionals’ knowledge and the perceived positive collaboration with teachers were found (r = .43; p =.00). In accordance to previous research the presented findings lead to the conclusion that a corresponding training for paraprofessionals should include basic information about disabilities, pedagogical knowledge, methods for supporting pupils’ learning and fostering social interactions. This is crucial for a higher sense of self-efficacy and successful work within the field of inclusive education.
Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived Self-Efficacy in Cognitive Development and Functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2),117–148. Council for Exceptional Children (2004). The Council for Exceptional Children Definition of a well-prepared Special Eudcation Teacher. Retrieved from https://www.cec.sped.org/~/media/Files/Policy/CEC Professional Policies and Positions/wellpreparedteacher.PDF Feyerer, E., Reibnegger, H., Hecht, P., Niedermaier, C., Soukup-Altrichter, C., Plaimauer, C.,…Bruch, I. (2016). SACIE-R/TEIP - Skala für Einstellungen, Haltungen und Bedenken zur Inklusiven Pädagogik/Skala zu Lehrer/innenwirksamkeit in Inklusiver Pädagogik. Retrieved from https://www.psycharchives.org//handle/20.500.12034/467 Guo, Y., Justice, L., Sawyer, B., & Tompkins, V. (2011). Exploring factors related to preschool teachers’ self-efficacy. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(5),961–968. Hellmich, F., & Görel, G. (2014). Erklärungsfaktoren für Einstellungen von Lehrerinnen und Lehrern zum inklusiven Unterricht in der Grundschule. Zeitschrift Für Bildungsforschung, 4(3),227–240. Kauffeld, S. (2004). FAT - Fragebogen zur Arbeit im Team. Göttingen:Hogrefe. Leyser, Y., Zeiger, T., & Romi, S. (2011). Changes in Self-efficacy of Prospective Special and General Education Teachers: Implication for inclusive education. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 58(3),241–255. Lübeck, A. (2017). Außen vor und doch dabei? Zur Einbindung der Schulbegleitung im schulischen Kollegium. In M. Laubner, B. Lindmeier, & A. Lübeck(Eds.), Schulbegleitung in der inklusiven Schule.Grundlagen und Praxishilfen (pp.66–73).Weinheim Basel:Beltz. Meyer, K. (2017). Multiprofessionalität in der inklusiven Schule: Eine empirische Studie zur Kooperation von Lehrkräften und Schulbegleiter/innen (Göttinger Schulbegleitungsstudie GötS). Göttinger Beiträge Zur Erziehungswissenschaftlichen Forschung, 37. Meyer, K., Nonte, S., & Willems, A. (2017). Mittendrin und doch außen vor? Eine empirische Studie zur multiprofessionellen Kooperation aus der Sicht von Schulbegleiter/innen. In M. Laubner, B. Lindmeier, & A. Lübeck (Eds.),Schulbegleitung in der inklusiven Schule. Grundlagen und Praxishilfen(pp.74–89). Weinheim Basel:Beltz. Scruggs, T. E., Mastropieri, M., & McDuffie, K. (2007). Co- Teaching in Inclusive Classrooms: A Metasynthesis of Qualitative Research. Council for Exceptional Children, 73(4),392–416. United Nations (2006). Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf Walk, M., & Beck, A. (2016).“Die Bereitschaft in den Köpfen ist da”. Einstellungen und Selbstwirksamkeit von Lehrkräften auf dem Weg zur inklusiven Schule. In S. Maykus, A. Beck, G. Hensen, A. Lohmann, H. Schinnenburg, M. Walk,…S. Wiedebusch(Eds.), Inklusive Bildung in Kindertageseinrichtigungen und Grundschulen: Empirische Befunde und Implikationen für die Praxis (pp.209–231). Weinheim Basel:Beltz Juventa Woolfolk Hoy, A., & Burke Spero, R. (2005). Changes in teacher efficacy during the early years of teaching: A comparison of four measures. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21,343–356.
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