Inclusion and Collaboration: Impact of Preservice Teachers’ Experiences on Their Knowledge, Attitudes and Perceived Sense of Efficacy

Tamara "Tammy" M. Bowlin Mrs., University of Tennessee - Knoxville

Abstract

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA, 2004) requires students with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Since students with disabilities are educated alongside their typical peers, there are increased demands placed on general education teachers. Because of the shift in educational responsibilities, it is important preservice teachers acquire the knowledge, dispositions and instructional strategies required to succeed in educating students with disabilities before they enter the classroom. The purpose of this study was to examine whether preservice teachers’ knowledge, attitudes and perceived abilities (sense of efficacy) toward teaching students with disabilities were influenced by: 1) being enrolled in a special education introductory course, 2) being randomly assigned by course section to watch a co-teaching video or in vivo observation, and 3) demographic variables.

In the study, 150 general and special education preservice teachers enrolled in an introductory special education course at the University of Tennessee participated in a pre-and post-survey. Course sections were randomly assigned to watch a one-hour video about co-teaching or watch co-teaching in vivo for one hour to determine if there were differential effects in the knowledge, attitudes, and perceived abilities toward working with students with disabilities at the end of the course. Participants responded to a pre-and post-survey instrument that incorporated demographic information, an Attitudes Questionnaire (AQ), the Preservice Inclusion Survey (PSIS), and a modified version of the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES).

The data were analyzed using SPSS. The pre-and post-survey results suggested a significant difference in the knowledge, attitudes and sense of efficacy of preservice teachers. No significant differences were found between the two conditions. Significant differences were found between Primary/Elementary and Secondary preservice teachers on the post-survey AQ and TSES scales. Positive correlations were found among various demographic variables. Results of multiple regressions are also discussed.