04 SES 02 A, How Is Inclusion Perceived By Students, Teachers And Administrative Staff?
This research study investigates the views and attitudes of Cypriot teachers towards the inclusive education policy of pupils with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The purpose of this research is to conduct a formative assessment regarding teachers’ views on the education of children with ASD, the training of these teachers on the topic of inclusive education and their satisfaction with the implementation of inclusive education. The sample of the study consists of primary school teachers, who teach in three schools with Special Education Units (SEU) and three schools without SEUs, in the Limassol district. The research has two phases. They initially completed a questionnaire and then interviews will be undertaken, based on the data derived from the questionnaires.
The educational system in Cyprus is highly centralized with policies and funding, administration and pedagogy centrally developed by the government (Symeonidou, 2002). The existing legislation is a major step towards the integration of children with disabilities in mainstream schools and the alignment of the Cypriot education system with international practice (Angelides, Vrasida and Charalambous, 2004). However, there are still some important ideological controversies that concern the rhetoric of integration and the implementation of segregating practices (Liasidou, 2007a). Numerous researchers stress the importance of the exploration of teachers’ professional background and their attitudes and beliefs regarding inclusive education, for the successful adoption of an inclusive approach to education, as they are the eventual implementers of integration or inclusive practices (Symenidou and Phtiaka, 2009).
The literature review led me to identify that the issue of the inclusive education of pupils with special needs in Cyprus, particularly children with ASD, in mainstream education has been addressed only from a legal-administration and organizational aspect. The educational and emotional aspects of the issue have not been addressed so far by the scholarly literature, lacking research and empirical data. Furthermore, it has not addressed, in any consistent way, the link between the problems that impact children with ASD and the creation of an inclusive educational environment especially for them. Most of the research in the Cyprus school set up to this day is comprised of data collected for special needs in general, inclusion for children with disabilities or perceptions on inclusive education of children with disabilities, and none for ASD specifically. This has led to the need for further investigation of teachers’ perceptions regarding inclusive education of children with ASD, and the present research study.
Therefore, the main objective of the current study is to investigate teachers’ perceptions on Inclusive Education, specifically for children with ASD, in Cyprus, the training of these on the topic of inclusive education and their satisfaction with the implementation of inclusive education.
Hence, I will be presenting the outcomes from the first phase of my research study, consisting of the description and analysis of the data collected from a questionnaire administered to the educational staff of six schools, of all positions and specializations. Additionally, I will be presenting the plans for the second phase of the research that will be conducted.
The objective of the present study is to conduct an explanatory case study regarding teachers’ perceptions on the education of children with ASD, the training of these teachers on the topic of inclusive education and their satisfaction with the implementation of inclusive education. To carry out scientific research, a necessary prerequisite is the development of a specific methodology in which this research will be conducted (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007). The research questions of this study provide the basis for the methodological paradigm chosen. These are (the following): 1. What are the teachers’ views on the education of children with ASD? 2. What is the training of these teachers on the topic of inclusive education for pupils with ASD? 3. Are they satisfied with the implementation of inclusive education regarding pupils with ASD? Three primary schools with SEUs and three primary schools without SEU’s,0 in the Limassol district, were chosen through random sampling. The teachers of these schools constituted the sample of the research study. Data was collected with questionnaires. Questionnaires were administered to the participants to investigate their perceptions and views in accordance with the research questions. Data analysis for the first phase was conducted using both descriptive statistics and appropriate inferential statistical methods, using the statistical software SPSS.IBM.25. Subsequently, interviews will be undertaken to provide further meaningful and in-depth information.
The analysis of the questionnaires in the first phase displayed that the questions which were not used in previous analysis factor and were thus analyzed separately, remained an important set of data to explore, due to the possibility of the revelation of a correlation between education level, experience, confidence as a teacher, and the willingness to promote inclusion of ASD children into the classroom. The information collected through the questionnaires will be used for the identification of the potential participants of the interviews, and it will provide the basis for questions that will be asked during the interviews. Therefore, the questionnaires themselves will directly be used in the first phase of data analysis; they nevertheless comprised the starting point of thoughts which will lead to the conclusions. Further research with Phase 2: Interviews Through the second phase of the research, my aim is to provide a qualitative explanation of the issues under examination. During the data collection and analysis of the first phase of the research, I analyzed the data and presented the findings from the questionnaire separately from the next phase, which will be the analysis of interviews and presentation of the findings from this analysis. The above involves the abandonment of the traditional distinction between the data collection phase and the data analysis phase and the adoption of a strategy based on iterative sampling and analysis, following Pidgeon’s (1996) recommendation that data analysis may (and should, ideally) continue as soon as satisfactory material is collected to work on (rather than waiting until a predefined data set has been found), and this in turn feeds back into the sampling of new data’.
Angelides, P., Charalambous, C. & Vrasida, C. (2004). Reflections on policy and practice of inclusive education in pre-primary schools in Cyprus, European Journal of Special Needs Education, 18, (2), 211-223. Cohen, L., Manion, L. & Morrison, K. (2007). Research methods in education. London: Routledge. Liasidou, A. (2007a). Inclusive education policies and the feasibility of educational change: the case of Cyprus, International Studies in Sociology of Education, 17, (4), 329-347. Pidgeon, N. & Henwood, K. (1996). Grounded theory: practical implementation. In John T.E. Richardson (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research methods for psychology and the social sciences (pp.86-101). Leicester: BPS Books. Symeonidou, S. (2002). A critical consideration of current values on the education of disabled children, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 6, (3), 217-229. Symeonidou, S. & Phtiaka, H. (2009). Using Teachers’ Prior Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs to Develop in-Service Teacher Education Courses for Inclusion. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25, (4), 543–550.
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