Date of Award

1-1-2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Professor Peter Cole

Second Advisor

Dr. Russell Waugh

Third Advisor

Dr. Amanda Blackmore

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine regular classroom teachers' attitudes to additional classroom support, both physical and personnel, for students with mild and severe intellectual disabilities who may be integrated into regular classrooms. The concerns of the regular classroom teachers with regard to the successful inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities are certainly merit addressing. As the regular classroom teachers are largely responsible for the education of these integrated students, it is worthwhile to examine their perceived support levels in relation to integrated students with intellectual disabilities. It is anticipated that the results of this study will prove useful when decisions are being made by educational administrators about the level and type of support needed for integrated students with intellectual disabilities. The results should be beneficial as a guideline for those concerned with the appropriate allocation of funding for students with intellectual disabilities who are educated in regular classrooms. As the subjects of this study were Catholic teachers employed in Catholic primary schools in Perth, Western Australia, it is anticipated that the results of this study will prove useful to the administrators in the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia. The dependent variables were physical and personnel support. The independent variables were ability, effort and school. Seventy-two classroom teachers from six East-Metropolitan Catholic Primary Schools in Perth, Western Australia, were used as participants. These teachers were presented with a vignette describing a hypothetical male student. Ability (average, mild, severe) and effort (low, moderate, high) were systematically varied to create a nine-cell design. Vignettes were randomly assigned to the 72 teachers. The teachers were asked to respond to two measurements for the dependent variables. The first comprised a seven-point Likert scale measuring their perceived need for additional physical support and additional personnel support in the regular classroom. The second was a magnitude-scaling instrument, which also required responses on additional physical and personnel support. A multivariate analysis was completed for the seven-point scale and magnitude scaling of the dependent variables. Wilk's criterion indicated no significant multivariate interaction between the factors of ability and effort. The multivariate analysis yielded a main effect for ability for both dependent variables. Univariate analyses showed that teachers perceived a significant difference between students with and without intellectual disabilities in the levels of additional personnel support needed but no significant difference between students with mild and severe intellectual disabilities in the levels of additional physical support. The ability level of the students was the critical variable that determined the levels of additional support, as perceived necessary by the regular classroom teacher. Regular classroom teachers did not perceive the factor, effort, as being significant. Consistent with attributional research findings, they did not perceive student effort as needing additional classroom support. Teachers perceive a strong need for personnel classroom support being necessary for students with mild and severe intellectual disabilities. There is a paucity of global research specific to the expected levels of additional physical and personnel classroom support needed for students with intellectual disabilities and none in Australia. This study has implications for the allocation of resources within schools in that it may offer guidelines for determining the levels and type of support given to regular classroom teachers so that integrated students with intellectual disabilities may succeed in the regular class.

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