10 SES 02 D, Research on Values, Beliefs & Understandings in Teacher Education
The context for this project is a growing international consensus on the importance of policy initiatives to both raise the quality of teaching (OECD, 2005) and to better prepare teachers to respond to increasing diversity in communities and classrooms (EADSNE, 2011).
All Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in Ireland were re-accredited from 2012, involving a reconceptualisation and a significant extension in length. Mandatory content was added related to inclusive teaching and a wider range of school placement experiences. Following this major reform, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) commissioned a study of ‘Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion’ in 2015. NCSE’s aim was: ‘to establish what the components of inclusive/special education are within Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in Ireland and to explore if the recent changes prepare newly qualified teachers to be inclusive using the indicators set out in the EASNIE’s Profile of Inclusive Teachers’.
The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (EASNIE) conducted a four-year project on Teacher Education for Inclusion, producing a ‘Profile of Inclusive Teachers’ (EADSNE, 2012) which identified key attitudes, knowledge and skills to be addressed by ITE to prepare all new teachers to become more inclusive. The NCSE proposed the EASNIE Profile of Inclusive Teaching as the baseline definition of inclusive teaching for the project and it is used by the research team as a framework and starting point for analysis.
The ‘Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion’ project (ITE4I) ran from 2015-2018. The research team was led by Manchester Metropolitan University in partnership with University College Cork and University College London, Institute of Education. We believe that this project is the first system-wide study of ITE for inclusive teaching in Europe. Its longitudinal approach, tracking the experiences of the first cohort of ITE students to graduate from the extended programmes through their first two years of teaching, lends further significance to this study.
A previously published report on the first year of the project focused on the components of ITE programmes and the experience of student teachers: ‘The Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion Project, Report on Phases 1 and 2’ (Hick et al., 2018). It drew on a range of data, including documentary analysis and surveys and interviews with student teachers and their teacher educators. The Report on Phases 1 and 2 presents the policy context and an initial review of the literature on understandings of inclusive education and ITE for inclusive teaching.
This paper also covers the second and third years of the project in 2016/18. It analyses the progress of the student teachers recruited to the project in its first year as they moved into their first two years as newly qualified teachers (NQTs). It draws on data including surveys and interviews with NQTs in each of their first two years of teaching, together with interviews with principals of schools where NQTs are employed. The Final Report sets out the policy context for NQTs in Ireland and includes a review of international research literature on ITE for inclusive teaching and on NQTs’ developing professional identities.
This project was commissioned under the title ‘Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion’, taking the EASNIE ‘Profile of Inclusive Teachers’ as a point of reference. Our literature reviews explore the definitional debates underlying the various meanings of terms such as ‘inclusion’ (Hick et al, 2018). In this report, we use the terms ‘inclusive teaching’ where appropriate to refer to the practice of teachers, and ‘inclusive education’ to refer more broadly to a movement towards equitable schooling for all learners, which aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination.
The research design was longitudinal, using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection and analysis. The Research Questions were as follows: 1. What are the components of inclusive/special education within Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in Ireland for primary and post-primary teachers? 2. Do the recent changes to ITE prepare newly qualified teachers to be inclusive as identified by European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (EASNIE) Profile of Inclusive Teachers? 3. What are NQT’s experiences of inclusive teaching?: RQ 3.1 How well prepared do NQTs feel to engage with inclusive practices? RQ 3.2 How do NQTs see the fit between their experience of engaging with inclusive practices in ITE placement and their experience of learning about inclusive practices in their ITE provider-based support sessions? RQ 3.3 How does school context influence NQT engagement with inclusive practices? RQ 3.4 In what ways are NQTs developing their understandings of inclusive practices? 4. What gaps are there in how current ITE programmes prepare student teachers to be inclusive as per the EASNIE Profile of Inclusive Teachers and what aspects need to be strengthened to better prepare student teachers to be inclusive? 5. What lessons can be identified from this research for initial teacher education in Ireland and subsequent phases in the continuum of teacher education? Data collection and analysis was planned through a series of phases: Phase 1 (Sept. – Jan. 2016): Analysing ITE Programme Content • Scoping review of literature • Documentary analysis (30 programmes from 13 ITE providers) • Teacher educator survey (N=21) Phase 2 (Feb. – Aug. 2016): Understanding the ITE Student Experience • Student teacher survey (N=430) and interviews (N=47) • Teacher educator interviews (N=11) Phase 3 (Sept. 2016 – Aug. 2017): Understanding the NQT Experience (1st year) • NQT1 survey (N=122) and follow-up interviews (N=20) • School principal interviews (N=13) Phase 4 (Sept. 2017 – May 2018): Understanding the NQT Experience (2nd year) • NQT2 survey (N=38) and follow-up interviews (N=23) • School principal (N =8) interviews Documentary and interview data were analysed thematically using Nvivo to draw out key themes. Longitudinal analysis of survey data was conducted using factor analysis.
In terms of the components of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes in Ireland, there is evidence of a commitment to developing inclusive teaching within the curriculum. ‘Reflection’ tends to be framed broadly in relation to critical thinking, rather than focused on problem-solving for inclusive teaching. Curriculum content on inclusive teaching is typically planned through discrete units, with a predominant focus on special educational needs rather than on inclusion and diversity more broadly. School placement experiences are often not well aligned with ITE curriculum content on inclusive teaching, with student teachers identifying a lack of practical preparation for inclusive teaching. Our study suggests a need for planned opportunities to engage in inclusive teaching, alongside spaces for collaborative critical reflection and making use of processes for reflection and problem-solving. Newly qualified teachers (NQTs) report an experience of ‘praxis shock’ in their first period of employment. This was evident in our analysis of survey and interview data. The context of the particular school in which they are working forms the dominant influence on their opportunities to develop as inclusive teachers. In their second year of teaching our data shows a shift on their focus from themselves as teachers to their pupils as learners. Opportunities for collaborative practice with more experienced colleagues was an important factor. There are many significant policy implications of the findings from this project. We propose embedding inclusive pedagogy across the ITE curriculum and NQT induction processes as a framework. Teacher educators reported feeling insufficiently prepared to develop work in this area and we suggest creating opportunities for collaboration between subject specialists and colleagues with expertise in inclusive education.
Black-Hawkins, K., & Florian, L. (2012). Classroom teachers’ craft knowledge of their inclusive practice. Teachers and Teaching, 18(5), 567-584. doi:10.1080/13540602.2012.709732 Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Teacher education around the world: What can we learn from international practice? European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(3), 291-309. doi:10.1080/02619768.2017.1315399 Donnelly, V. (Ed.) (2011). Teacher Education for Inclusion Across Europe: Challenges and Opportunities: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. EADSNE. (2010). Teacher education for inclusion – International literature review. Odense, Denmark: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. EADSNE. (2011). Teacher Education for Inclusion across Europe – Challenges and Opportunities. Odense, Denmark: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. EADSNE. (2012). Teacher education for inclusion: Profile of inclusive teachers. Odense, Denmark: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. Florian, L. (2011). Introduction—Mapping international developments in teacher education for inclusion. PROSPECTS, 41(3), 319-321. doi:10.1007/s11125-011-9202-x Guðjónsdóttir, H., Cacciattolo, M., Dakich, E., Davies, A., Kelly, C., & Dalmau, M. C. (2007). Transformative pathways: Inclusive pedagogies in teacher education. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40(2), 165-182. Hick, P., Solomon, Y., Mintz, J., Matziari, A., Ó Murchú, F., Hall, K., Cahill, K., Curtin, C. and Margariti, D. (2018). Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion: Phase 1 and 2 Final Report to the National Council for Special Education. NCSE Research Report No. 26. Retrieved from Dublin: http://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/NCSE-Teacher-Education-Inclusion-Phase1-2-RR26-for-webupload.pdf Pugach, M. C., Blanton, L. P., & Boveda, M. (2014). Working together: research on the preparation of general education and special education teachers for inclusion and collaboration. In P. T. Sindelar, E. D. McCray, M. T. Brownell, & B. Lignugaris/Kraft (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Special Education Teacher Preparation. New York: Routledge.
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