General and special educators' attitudes toward the inclusion of students with mild/moderate disabilities

Gloria Jean Roberts

Abstract

More than ever before, school districts encounter children of different academic, behavior, and social backgrounds. As a result of these differences, various placement options must be available to accommodate the needs of all students. Inclusion provides another placement option for students, teachers, and parents to consider. Inclusion allows students to work in the general education class at his or her pace. Inclusion can be successful with appropriate support services. However, teachers' attitudes tend to dictate whether or not they are willing to implement appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities. School personnel at the local level will decide the outcome of inclusion. The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a significant difference in the attitudes of general educators and special educators toward inclusion. The participants were asked to indicate their attitudes toward inclusion based on 20 statements about inclusion. The results of the study indicated that general and special educators agreed on the disadvantages and advantages of inclusion. However, general and special educators differed on logistical, philosophical, and professional issues regarding inclusion. These findings suggested that both groups recognized the benefits of inclusion, such as higher employment rates and higher standards of education, yet general educators have been reluctant to participate in inclusive programming. The overall total attitude score indicated that special educators were more positive toward inclusion than general educators. The present study indicated that there were differences in attitudes in regard to making modifications for students with disabilities. General educators did not embrace adapting materials to a lower level or implementing one-on-one and small group activities. General educators were more teacher centered than special educators (Learner, 1993). Special educators focused on individualized instruction and felt that they were more prepared to teach students with disabilities than general educators (Taylor, 1994). Additionally, previous research has suggested that general educators had a low sense of teaching efficacy. Teachers did not feel that they were adequately trained to teach students with disabilities (Soodak, Podell, & Lehman, 1998). The findings of this present study suggested that neither teaching levels nor gender tended to impact the attitudes of teachers. The overriding factors that impacted teachers' attitudes related to their beliefs regarding their ability to teach students with disabilities. The present study implied that, after 10 years of inclusion, universities and colleges still have not prepared general and special educators for inclusive programs. This study implied that both groups of educators would benefit from courses and inservice training specifically designed to facilitate dialogue about inclusion. It further suggested that general educators and special educators would benefit from courses regarding methods for teaching both general educators and special education students.