04 SES 01 D, Attitudes Towards Inclusive Education: How Much They Affect Future Teachers Training?
While at a political level inclusive education has internationally gained much momentum and approval in the last three decades and many countries have legislation or policies that support inclusion, progress in effective practice can be slow and difficult. Apart from inclusive policies, inclusive cultures and inclusive practices need to be established (Booth & Ainscow, 2002), and teachers are key players in this process. Unsurprisingly, there has been abundant research about teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion, and the variables that are associated with these attitudes. However, attitudes alone are often poor predictors of actual behavior. Many teachers embrace the idea of inclusive education; but having to deal with students with a diverse range of abilities in the own classroom is challenging. Research in recent years has therefore shifted to consider further important factors such as self-efficacy with regard to teaching in inclusive classrooms (e.g. Loreman, Sharma & Forlin, 2013; Savolainen, Engelbrecht, Nel & Malinen, 2012; Abegglen, Schwab & Hessels, 2015). Building upon the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991; Sharma & Mannan, 2015), Ahmmed, Sharma & Deppler (2012) showed in their study that 40% of the variance in teacher’s intentions to include students with disabilities in their classroom could be explained by considering attitudes, perceived school support and efficacy beliefs. Importantly, considering concerns and efficacy beliefs in addition to attitudes may not only better predict intentions, but can also provide better indications of how teachers can be encouraged and supported in their development towards more inclusive practices.
In this study, we build upon previous research and use a questionnaire assessing attitudes, concerns, efficacy and intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms (Sharma, Aiello, Pace, Round & Subban, 2018) in a large sample of pre- and in-service regular and special education teachers in Switzerland. While many studies assess attitudes and self-efficacy beliefs in either pre- and in-service teachers or regular and special education teachers, surprisingly few studies contrast these different groups together. Contrasting groups differing in knowledge, teaching experience and experience with inclusive education may help further elucidate insights between attitudes, concerns, efficacy and the intention to teach in inclusive classroom. Specifically, we aim to:
(1) compare the four teacher groups (pre- and in-service regular teachers, pre- and in-service special education teachers) regarding their attitudes, concerns, efficacy, and intentions
(2) compare how the three components attitudes, concerns and efficacy relate to intentions in the four teacher groups and
(3) to examine how further variables such as teaching experience, experience with teaching children with disabilities and school level (teaching in lower primary, upper primary or secondary school) relate attitudes, concerns, efficacy and intentions.
For this study, a five-part survey questionnaire adapted from Sharma et al. (2018) was used. The five parts consist of (1) a 10 item Attitudes towards Inclusion Scale (AIS) (Sharma and Jacobs, 2016), (2) the 21 item Concerns about Inclusive Education Scale (CIES) (Sharma & Desai, 2002), (3) the 18 item Teacher Efficacy for Inclusive Practices Scale (Sharma, Loreman & Forlin, 2012), (4) the Intention to Teach in Inclusive Classroom Scale (ITICS) (Sharma & Jacobs, 2016) and (5) further background information of the participants (e.g., teaching experience, self-rated experience and success in teaching students with SEN, age, gender, etc.). Because of the Swiss sample, the German version of the questionnaire was used which has been 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 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. For the pre-service teacher sample, the online survey link was shared among students from different departments (primary, secondary or special education departments). The total sample comprises N = 1213 teachers, of which are 92 pre-service regular teachers, 82 pre-service special education teachers, 873 in-service regular teachers and 166 in-service special education teachers. Data analysis will be carried out using multivariate analyses of variance, structural equation modeling and multiple regression analyses.
Despite less experience in teaching in general and teaching in inclusive classrooms, previous studies have shown that pre-service teachers tend to have slightly more positive attitudes toward inclusion (e.g. Abegglen, Schwab & Hessels, 2015) than in-service teachers. Therefore, we expect overall better outcomes (more positive attitudes, less concerns and higher intentions) but, because of their inexperience, overall less self-efficacy beliefs in pre-service compared to in-service teachers. We also expect special education teachers to have more positive attitudes, less concerns and higher self-efficacy beliefs than regular teachers. We also expect slightly different models regarding attitudes, concerns and efficacy and their relationship with intentions to teach in inclusive classrooms for the four different groups, and that variables such as teaching experience and school level (teaching in lower primary, upper primary or secondary school) will additionally explain variance in predicting intentions.
Abegglen, H., & Hessels, M. G. P. (n.d.). Measures of Individual, Collaborative and Environmental Characteristics predict Swiss School Principals’, Teachers’ and Student Teachers’ Attitudes Towards Inclusive Education. Psychoeducational Assessment, Intervention and Rehabilitation (PAIR), 1. Abegglen, H., Schwab, S., & Hessels, M. G. P. (2015). Einstellung zur Integration - Ergebnisse aus einer Schweizer Onlinestudie mit Lehrkräften und Studierenden. Heilpädagogische Forschung, 41(4), 184–192. Ahmmed, M., Sharma, U., & Deppeler, J. (2014). Variables affecting teachers’ intentions to include students with disabilities in regular primary schools in Bangladesh. Disability & Society, 29(2), 317–331. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2013.796878 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 Booth, T. and Ainscow, M. (2002). Index for Inclusion: developing learning and participation in schools. Loreman, T., Sharma, U., & Forlin, C. (2013). Do Pre-service Teachers Feel Ready to Teach in Inclusive Classrooms? A Four Country Study of Teaching Self-efficacy. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(1). https://doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2013v38n1.10 Miesera, 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 Savolainen, H., Engelbrecht, P., Nel, M., & Malinen, O.-P. (2012). Understanding teachers’ attitudes and self-efficacy in inclusive education: implications for pre-service and in-service teacher education. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 27(1), 51–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2011.613603 Sharma, U., Aiello, P., Pace, E. M., Round, P., & 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, 0(0), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2017.1361139 Sharma, U., & Desai, I. (2002). Measuring concerns about integrated education in India. The Asia-Pacific Journal on Disabilities, 5. 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. (2011). 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 Sharma, U., & Mannan, H. (2015). Do Attitudes Predict Behaviour – An (un)Solved Mystery? In P. Jones & S. Danforth (Eds.), Foundations of Inclusive Education Research (Vol. Volume 6, pp. 115–131). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
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