Secondary v K-7: pre-service teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion
Common Ground Publishing
Place of Publication
Education and Arts
One of the most important determinants of inclusive practice by classroom teachers is their beliefs and attitudes towards individuals with disabilities (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002; Moberg, Zumberg & Reinmaa, 1997). This notion was the primary motivation for developing the Community Links Program (CLP), which has been embedded in the Bachelor of Education course for several years at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia. Pre-service teachers' engagement in recreational and social activities with people who have disabilities is a requirement of this program. At the completion of their CLP, K-7 and secondary pre-service teachers were surveyed to determine what impact their experience had on their attitude to disability. The overall response to the program indicated that it was perceived as a worthwhile component of their teacher training course and, for some individuals, an experience that enhanced their personal growth. Additionally, pre-service teachers' attitudes towards the inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms were sought. Of particular interest was the difference that may exist between the attitudes of the two cohorts. While both cohorts reported a positive attitude to inclusion, when the mean responses were compared, the K-7 pre-service teachers rated significantly higher in their attitude towards inclusion. Given that pre-service teachers' attitudes may provide clear guides towards future classroom practice, possible explanations for differences in attitude are discussed within the context of implications on pre-service teacher training.