What Affects Teachers’ Attitudes toward Inclusion
Peet, Christine M.
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The inclusion of students with special needs in the general education classroom has become an essential component of education (Smith & Kozlesky, 2005). Including all students in the least restrictive environment to the maximum extent possible is the law and an innate human right (Idol, 2006). However, research reveals that some teachers do not have positive attitudes toward including students with disabilities in their classrooms (Cullen & Noto, 2007). The purpose of this study is to uncover factors behind teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion. Participants consist of 70 pre-service and 100 experienced teachers. Methods used were 14 Likert scale survey items, five open-ended questions, and 14 item interviews. Results were analyzed using a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), a MANOVA, and ethnographic strategies. Results from the CFA revealed that the ten-item factor structure from the exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was not a good fit for the data. A MANOVA was utilized to determine the extent that pre-service and experienced teachers differ on the three components found in the EFA: (1) professional development, (2) administrative support, and (3) exposure to inclusion. Ethnographic approaches such as thinking, patterns, themes, and categories were used to search for deeper meanings and emerging themes (Fetterman, 2010). By analyzing attitudinal barriers through a mixed-method design comparing pre-service and experienced teachers, underlying themes of disruptiveness of behavior and locus of control of the teacher evolved to supplement bridging the gap between the law and the implementation of inclusion in the classroom. Limitations and future implications have been addressed.
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