Literature Review 1
ED 512 Action Research 1
Gail C. Conti
December 9, 2008
Introduction Please review APA for Heading format
Five spaces The inclusion of students with special needs in the general education setting is a common trend in today's schools. Today's inclusion goes beyond the legal requirements of the Individual with Disability Education Act (IDEA) and the American with Disability Act (ADA), which only mandate inclusion for school based education. These laws provide students with disabilities full access to all educational programs along with the additional support services needed to help meet their educational needs. A common uncertainty of teachers in these inclusive learning environments is whether or not they are truly addressing the needs of students with disabilities through their general education curriculum. Great intro
Inclusive education involves teachers dealing with a larger diversity of students in their classrooms and adapting and differentiating the curriculum to meet the wide range of student backgrounds, cognitive abilities, physical needs, and interests. Teachers are acknowledging that the pressure to accommodate students with disabilities into their general education classrooms is one of the most significant challenges they face today (Smith, Polloway, Patton, & Dowdy, 2008). The purpose of this literature is to address teacher concerns and attitudes towards inclusive education across all academic settings and determine the root of negative attitudes towards inclusion.
This review seeks to contribute to a body of research regarding teacher perspectives, attitudes, images, and behaviors of general education teachers towards the inclusion of students with special needs into the general education setting. The literature being reviewed within this paper covers a variety of situations, expectations, limitations, and teacher experiences on teacher attitudes towards inclusion, providing the reader with a greater understanding of the challenges and concerns of teachers regarding inclusion.
Critical Review Heading
Research has been conducted on the attitudes of teachers towards the inclusion of students with disabilities into their regular education classrooms, identifying how educators view inclusion and the difficulties they face modifying their curriculums. A common emphasis in these studies are the attitudes and perceptions that most teachers have towards the inclusion of students with disabilities in the regular education classrooms and what can be done to better prepare teachers and build confidence in their abilities to differentiate instruction.
Teacher attitudes towards the inclusion of students with special needs have been the focus of much research over the past two decades (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Avramidis & Norwich, 2002; Hastings & Oakford, 2003). This research has established that teacher attitudes are critical to the success of inclusive education. Much of the literature identified in this review endorses that teacher attitudes towards inclusion are influenced by a number of factors. These factors include: influential factors ranging from teacher preparedness, gender influences, teacher attitudes and perceptions, years of teaching experience, past experiences in working with special needs students, and the availability of support services (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996). Nice transition/introduction to next section. It might help to format the following elements into second level headings.
Examination of Teacher Preparedness
Much of the research in this review revealed that experienced teachers, those who have prior experience with students with disabilities, and prospective teachers; feel that there is a need for more pre-service inclusionary coursework or additional teacher in-service opportunities to better prepare them for the presence of students with disabilities reference?. Teachers with inclusionary experience and education have displayed more confidence when trying to meet the demands of diverse learners (Klavina & Block, 2007). Ammah and Hodge (2005) found that teachers do not believe that they are adequately prepared to contend with the complexities of inclusion. Although this study examined the attitudes of in-service physical education teachers toward inclusion, it identifies the pre-service years as the critical period to positively shape the attitudes of teachers towards inclusion. Elliott (2008) found that additional teacher in-service opportunities improved teacher attitudes. By increasing teacher education programs to build confidence and acceptance within the classroom we can start to eliminate any misconceptions about how inclusion works. Providing teachers with strategies through education on how to make modifications to existing general education curriculums can be an effective way to create a learning environment that is accessible and supportive of all students and teachers in a variety of educational contexts (Elliot, 2008; Ammah & Hodge, 2005; Hodge, 1998). This is valuable information – but the pre-service and in-service information seems to be mixed together. It might help to separate it out into two paragraphs.
A challenge for educators alike is learning to effectively educate our students with learning disabilities fairly and appropriately. Identifying and understanding the special learning needs of a student who has a disability plays a critical role in designing an appropriate educational program and providing the needed emotional and behavioral support. As this is not “lit” related, it is better in your introducton.
Examination of Gender Differences
Many studies investigated the attitudinal differences between male and female teachers. Identifying gender differences as a variable affecting the positive attitudes of teachers; determining that females are more positive than males, and people who have been previously exposed to people with disabilities; such as with a friend or family member (Block, 2000).
In 2005, Ammah and Hodge completed an investigation of two male physical education teachers from different school districts with more than five years of teaching experience. Both teachers expressed a combination of favorable and less than favorable attitudes towards inclusion. Their favorable attitudes were a reflection of a positive classroom experience or interaction that bolstered a short term confidence in their abilities to teach students with special needs. In contrast, the less favorable attitudes exhibited were a reflection of their own skepticisms regarding their lack of formal training, the time demands of one on one instruction, and the practical implications of students with disabilities in overcrowded classes.
Hodge (1998) identified through his research on pre-service teachers attitudes towards students with disabilities varied a great deal depending on their gender and experiences. He found that females with previous exposure to special needs students exhibited more favorable attitudes than any teacher without experience. This applied especially to their male counterparts with or without experience.
This is interesting – FYI, as the lit review helps determine the research directions, you will “need” to use data collection and analysis procedures that address gender.
Examination of Attitudes and Perceptions
There are barriers to inclusion that involve changing attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of teachers about all students being able to achieve high standards despite their differences (Ammah & Hodge, 2005). Some teachers struggle with the concept of inclusion, feeling as though the students with special needs will slow down the progression of the class making it difficult to get through a lesson (Leatherman, 2007). This fundamental change in attitude is necessary to the successful inclusion of special education students in all content areas. Avaramidis & and (only & for inside parentheses) Norwich (2002) investigated the attitudes of general education teachers towards inclusion and concluded that any inconsistencies in teacher attitudes towards different types of disabilities are accredited to a teacher’s perception of the additional instructional and classroom management skills required in order to accommodate these students. Specific types of disabilities that are perceived by teachers to bring the most challenges to their daily routines are the exact disabilities that teachers seem to hold the most negative views of and are least willing to teach. This is confusing – please explain. French and Henderson (1984) focused their research on teacher attitudes towards mainstreaming and found that teachers were more anxious concerning the mainstreaming of students with mental retardation or a physical handicap, than they were about students with learning disabilities or behavior disorders.
Teacher attitudes are one of the most influential variables in the success of inclusion initiatives (Hastings & Oakford, 2003). A teacher’s perceptions and attitude towards inclusion will inundate and effect the environment of a classroom, unwillingly placing limitations on the successes of their students. Once a teacher is able to acknowledge and visualize the impact of their personal views, it will afford them a better insight on how to work with students with special needs and assists them in creating a more supportive educational environment (Block, 2000). This is actually a great introductory paragraph to this section.
Impact of Support Services
Inclusive school programs are different in the amount and nature of support provided to the general education teacher from district to district, both in definition and implementation (Leatherman, 2007). While the benefits of such supports can be used to meet the academic needs of students with disabilities, only a very small percentage of educators are provided with the proper support or seek support. It is vital to the survival of inclusion to solicit support from administrators and special service providers in order to receive additional resources and assistance in the classroom; to take advantage of informational resources through professional development courses and in-services to change teachers’ attitudes (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002). Professional collaboration between general education teachers and special education teachers plays an integral role in the success of inclusionary programs (Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996). Hodge & Jansma, (2000), echoed in their research that inclusion demands that both the general physical education teachers and special education teachers work as a team to educate the students with special needs. Good – you will need to teachers’ perceptions of support in your data collection tools.
Teacher attitudes, organization, and knowledge are the barriers to successful inclusion. Studies identifying attitudinal barriers are finding that teachers agree in principle with the goals of inclusion, but many do not feel prepared to work in inclusive settings (Klavina, Block & Larins, 2007; Elliott, 2008; Leatherman, 2007; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1996; Avaramidis & Norwich, 2002). Organizational barriers are affected by the different ways teacher classrooms are taught, managed, and supported. In the instance of knowledge barriers, general educators do not feel that they have received the necessary training for working with students with special needs.
With all the successful educational ideas, support of inclusion, and general understanding of how the challenges of inclusion affect teacher attitudes; there is no advice within any of the literature reviewed on how any one teacher can move forward to create there own change. A large amount of the changes require administrative consent, such as the availability of classroom instructional assistants. There is also the added limitation on the availability of professional enhancement courses on inclusion. All the literature presented within this review implicates that the results of these projects required an incredible amount of vision, collaboration, policy, and training. Although informative they did not implicate how to initiate this change.
These studies could benefit a great deal from additional research to investigate inclusion and the resources needed for success. Additionally, researchers could focus attention on administrators, parents, and children to explore their thoughts on inclusion and what they feel is needed within the classroom. This would bring the study full circle and provide the researchers with more ammunition to advocate practical applications for change. This section is part of your Conclusion and Summary – I would combine them. Some of this will also be of use in your “final” conclusion at the end of your research.
The movement to positively alter the attitudes of teachers towards inclusion is a challenging process, but research proves to be necessary when trying to achieve successful inclusionary classrooms. The conclusive findings within this literary review suggest that perceptions, lack of support, and preparedness of general education teachers to provide for students with disabilities in their general education classrooms has caused anxiety and fear in teachers of every content area. It is critical to dispel the negative connotations of having students with disabilities in the general education classroom and educate these teachers to be able to effectively contribute to the content and modifications of their curriculums (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002). Igniting a teacher’s commitment to meet the needs of their students, will assist them in making the necessary changes to their attitudes towards inclusion, provide them with the confidence to formulate new ideas, and develop strategies to implement a plan of action.
The focus of the literature presented within this review placed a spotlight on general education teacher attitudes towards inclusion as a whole. However, there is a missing gap where there is a need for more comprehensive research in defining a content area, grade level, and the identification of specific disabilities, when addressing teacher attitudes. A proactive avenue to address this missing gap is for more extensive research to be conducted in order to better define the view points of elementary and middle school physical education teacher's attitudes towards the inclusion of students with a specific disability such as cerebral palsy or autism. By focusing on a specific disability, general physical education teachers would benefit from studies that isolate more severe disabilities that encompass a variety of different movement impairments from mild to severe. The current culture of inclusion can be changed by developing and defining plans that are disability specific, allowing teachers to utilize strategies to build a foundation of confidence and boost their attitudes towards inclusion.
Ammah, J. O. A., & Hodge, S. R. (2005). Secondary Physical Education Teachers' Beliefs and Practices in Teaching Students with Severe Disabilities: A Descriptive Analysis. High School Journal. 89 (2), 40-54. Pretty good. Review how to format journal issue and volume numbers.
Avramidis, E., & Norwich, B. (2002). Teachers’ Attitudes Towards Integration and Inclusion: A Review of the Literature. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 17, 129 – 147.
Block, M.E. (2000). Including Children with Disabilities in Regular Physical Education: A Guide for Practitioners (2nd Ed.). Baltimore, PA: Brooks. Chapter 4, pp.104, 231.
Elliot S. (2008). The Effect of Teachers’ Attitude Toward Inclusion on the Practice and Success Levels of Children With and Without Disabilities in Physical Education. International Journal of Special Education. 23(3), 48-55.