04 SES 13 D, Preparing Teachers to Include All Learners with Head, Heart and Hands: An International Perspective.
Given inclusive education is now mandated in Australia, it is concerning that teacher education programs to prepare pre-service teachers for inclusion have been slow to respond to such policy and legislation (Sharma, Loreman & Forlin, 2011) . In Australia, an overwhelming 63% of teachers reported that their training and professional development had not provided the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively teach students with disabilities (Commonwealth of Australia, 2016). In order to understand how best to design teacher education courses and units, Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) is used to guide the current research. The TPB outlines four key elements that influence one’s behaviour. Namely; attitudes, subjective norm, perceived behavioural control and intentions (Ajzen, 1987). In the case of inclusive education, a teacher who has a positive attitude towards responding to diversity (attitudes), feels their behaviour is typical within their specific culture and is socially supported (subjective norm), and believes they have sufficient knowledge and skills regarding how to include individuals with disabilities (perceived behavioural control), is likely to have an intention to act inclusively and facilitate inclusion. With this theory in mind, the aim of this study was to understand the impact of a university unit on constructs relating to quality inclusive classroom practices of PSTs. More specifically, a 5-part questionnaire including measures of PST’s attitudes, concerns, teaching efficacy and intentions was administered. Importantly, given the current study is concerned with PSTs, subjective norm could not be consistently measured due to lack of regular employment at a school. Also, demographic variables were recorded. The sample were 68 PST enrolled in an inclusive education unit (‘Inclusive Education: Teaching Diverse learners’), at Monash University, Australia. The questionnaire was administered on two occasions. Once prior to the unit (week 1 of semester) and again after the unit was complete (week 9 of semester). This design was used to determine if, by taking part in the unit, the PST total scores on the constructs changed significantly. Data obtained from the PSTs were analysed using descriptive statistics and paired-samples t-Tests. The results indicated that PST had more positive attitudes, less concerns and higher teaching efficacy after taking part in the inclusive education unit. These findings were all significant (p = <.05). Interestingly, the difference pre/post in intentions to teach inclusively were not significant. This suggests that more reforms and research is required to give PST clearer ideas about how to implement inclusive education. The implications of these findings will be discussed in relation to the design of teacher education units, the preparation of PST and sustaining inclusive education.
Ajzen, I. (1987). Attitudes, traits, and actions: Dispositional prediction of behavior in personality and social psychology. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 20, pp. 1-63): Elsevier. Commonwealth of Australia. (2016). Access to real learning: The impact of policy, funding and culture on students with disability. Canberra, Australia: Author Sharma, U., Loreman, T., & Forlin, C. (2011). Measuring teacher efficacy to implement inclusive practices: An international validation. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 12(1), 12-21
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