Does Experience In Inclusive Education Increase Teacher’s Self-Efficacy On Inclusive Education? First Results From A Pilot Study On Teacher Education
With an increasing number of students with special educational needs (SEN) attending inclusive education in regular classes the preparation of pre-service teachers for this relatively new task is crucial. The European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (2011; 2012) focuses on the two components ‘positive teacher attitudes’ and ‘effective teacher skills’, which results in a profile for inclusive teachers containing of four key values with several areas of competence per key value.
When we want to evaluate how good pre-service teachers are prepared for the task of inclusive education we have find a framework to operate with. From psychology research we know that success in solving any task is influenced by the person’s self-efficacy (Bandura, 1992, 1997, 2001; Schunk, 1995). This general finding can be confirmed for teaching practice as well (Schwarzer & Warner, 2011). As self-efficacy we describe the “personal certainty to be able to handle new or difficult demand situations due to own competence” (Schwarzer & Warner, 2011, own translation). The impact of self-efficacy on doing inclusive education seems to be crucial (Sharma, Loreman, & Forlin, 2012; Tschannen-Moran, Woolfolk-Hoy, & Hoy, 1998).
Since we know that specific self-efficacy is not only influenced by learned skills and competence but also by generalized self-efficacy and furthermore by beliefs about the specific demand situation, we have to consider beliefs about inclusive education for teacher education. In a multi-component model of attitudes (Zanna & Rempel, 1988), ‘beliefs’ can be seen as the cognitive component of attitudes: How we evaluate a object is influenced by expectations we have on this object. Those expectations and thoughts are called beliefs (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) and have a great influence on our attitudes and our behavior (Maio & Haddock, 2010). But as we know from research, it is quite difficult or maybe not possible to change beliefs about inclusive education by teacher education courses (Kopp, 2009).
The main goal of our research project is to find out, how a longer phase of practical experience in inclusive education can change both components: self-efficacy with regards to inclusive education and beliefs about inclusive education. Our hypothesis is: “Student teachers in special education who do their practical part of teacher education in inclusive classes will develop higher self-efficacy and more positive beliefs about inclusive education than those who do it in a special school only.”
For our pilot study we could find one teacher education centre for special needs education that randomly assigns about half of their student teachers to both inclusive classes and special schools and the other half to special schools only. The practical part of teacher education for special needs education has a duration of 1.5 years. We decided to evaluate beliefs and self-efficacy with regards to inclusive education at three measurement points: At the beginning of the 1.5 years, in the middle and at the end.
To measure beliefs about inclusive education and self-efficacy with regards to inclusive education we used an adaption of the instrument developed by Kopp (2009) which uses case examples representing several dimensions of heterogeneity. Generalized self-efficacy was measured with the ‘Generalized Self-Efficacy scale’ developed by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1995) and teacher self-efficacy with a german translation (Gyung Sung & Melzer, 2014) of the Ohio State Teacher Efficacy Scale (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk-Hoy, 2001). This instrument contains of three subscales: ‘Efficacy in Student Engagement’, ‘Efficacy in Instructional Practices’, and ‘Efficacy in Classroom Management’
Since the main focus of the analysis is on the changes between the measurement points, we will analysis our data with multivariate factorial ANCOVA for repeated measures. The evaluated dependent variables are ‚beliefs about inclusive education’ and ‚self-efficacy with regards to inclusive education’. As independent variables we’re using the assignment to the groups ‘teaching in inclusive classes’ vs. ‘teaching in special schools only’. The background variables ‘gender’ and ‘specific disabilities focused during teacher education’ will be considered as fixed factors (main effects and interaction effects) while the variables ‘generalized self-efficacy’ and ‘teacher self-efficacy’ will be considered as covariates. If we can show that ‘beliefs about inclusive education’ still stable during the measurement points we will move this variable from dependent variable to covariate due to its known positive correlation with self-efficacy with regards to inclusive education.
At measurement point we reached a sample size of N = 59 which is about 94% of all student teachers from the teacher education center. We had 36 student teachers assigned to inclusive classes (30 females and 6 males) and 23 assigned to special schools (18 females and 5 males). The average age was 26.10 years and did not differ between the groups.
On submittion deadline the first measurement point has already been evaluated. The second measurement point will be evaluated when presenting the poster.
Reliability and Descriptives of the instruments
Generalized self-efficacy scale (M = 18.30; SD = 3.91) showed a good reliability of alpha = .85. OSTES and ist subscales showed the following reliabilities:
• OSTES total score: alpha = .87 (M = 153.70; SD = 14.91)
• Students Engagement: alpha = .72 (M = 49.40; SD = 5.66)
• Classroom Management: alpha = .82 (M = 45,67; SD = 6,84)
• Instructional Practices: alpha = .67 (M = 44.20; SD = 4.94)
Good reliabilities could be found for self-efficacy with regard to inclusive education (alpha = .89; M = 73.37; SD = 12.20) and beliefs about inclusive education (alpha = .82; M = 63.32; SD = 8.93).
Correlations between the scales
All significant correlations that could be found were consistent to the underlaying theoretical framework:
• Generalized self-efficacy vs. OSTES (r = .54), self-efficacy with regard to inclusive education (r = .53) and beliefs about inclusive education (r = .28)
• OSTES vs. self-efficacy with regard to inclusive education (r = .58)
• Self-efficacy with regard to inclusive education vs. beliefs about inclusive education (r = .42)
Differences between the groups
Only for the OSTES subscale Instructional Practices (t(49.61) = 2.05; p = .045; corrected t-test) and the self-efficacy (t(52) = 2.37; p = .02) a difference between the two groups could be found at beginning of teacher education in the teacher education center. In both scales the group ‘teaching in special schools only’ had the higher average score.
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