Following the 1975 enactment of “The Education for All Handicapped Children “(as per the Public Law 94-142), there came into being a law that ensured that students with disabilities accessed education from the public school system just like their non-handicapped peers. From a historical perspective, not every student with a handicap enjoyed the opportunity of accessing similar learning resources to those available to non-disabled students (Bursztyn, 2007, p. 219). Previously, most of the students with disabilities often would receive learning instructions from the comfort of a designated resource classroom. Under normal circumstances, the location of a resource classroom would be in a separate location from the rest of the classrooms that houses regular students. In this case, students with special needs only socialized with their non-disabled counterparts during lunch breaks and at the assemblies. Now, inclusive learning enables students with learning disability to enjoy similar learning facilities with their counterparts without any learning disability. Before the implementation of inclusive learning however, the expectation was that students with learning disabilities would handle most of the activities within the regular education section, receiving only limited accommodation from the general education teachers. With time, Public Law-94-142 evolved eventually to become in 1997, the IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Education Act).
The directive of the IDEA was that all students eligible to enroll into regular schools, and who had one form of disability or another, be accorded an equal chance to learn, just like their non-disabled counterparts were doing (Fuhrman & Elmore, 2004, p. 65). This meant accommodating students with special needs in a ‘least restrictive environment’. Until that time, mainstreaming was the main process of achieving a “least restrictive environment”. The legislation of the IDEA in 1997 reinforced the “least restrictive environment” concept that guaranteed students with disabilities receiving an education to “the maximum extent possible appropriate with their regular peers” (Fuhrman & Elmore, 2004, p. 165).
President George W. Bush appended his signature in 2004 (December) to a document aimed at reauthorizing IDEA, in effect turning it into a law. This law took into consideration changes that the Congress had deliberated. These changes addressed the plight of not just the students with disabilities, but also the homeless youths as well.
Fuhrman & Elmore (2004, p. 171) regards inclusion as an avenue through which students with disabilities, and who have already been accommodated under the mainstreaming curricula into regular schools, gain access to suitable, yet challenging education programs. However, the design of these education programs caters for the needs and capabilities of students with disabilities.
According to Zevin (2007, p. 41) inclusion is the action of according students with special needs instructions designed to specifically accommodate students with learning disabilities within the setting of inclusive classroom. In this case, the application of the term inclusive is within the context of “least restrictive environment.” What this means is that students with disabilities require with similar opportunities to those offered to the regular students so that they can take part in the fundamental activities of learning, completely mindful of their individual needs and abilities.
The federal government ahs directed that the public schools accommodate students with disabilities so that they have equal access to learning as their counterparts without learning disabilities. Consequently, schools all over the nation embarked on a mission to integrate the structure of inclusion in the design of their educational curriculum (Zevin, 2007, p. 43).This is a structure that bears a resemblance to the past principles in education, as these impacts on integration, mainstreaming, deinstitutionalization, and regular education initiative.
There is a link between on the one hand, integration, mainstreaming, deinstitutionalization and regular education initiative and on the other hand, inclusion. However, there is a definition difference these terms and inclusion, especially with regard to fulfilling the educational requirements of students with disabilities. The fundamental responsibility to the education system to ensure that students with disabilities attained equal educational opportunities with non-disabled peers courtesy of the structure of inclusion places this responsibility on the shoulders of the teachers in the regular education system (Leyser & Romi, 2008, p. 705).
Historically, educators have had to face issues like school reform, multicultural education, gaps in education achievement, standardized testing as mandated by states, and collaborative networks. Therefore, the construct of inclusion is regarded an extra source of pressure to secondary educators all over the nation (Leyser & Romi, 2008, p. 705). Through inclusion, an extra number of general education teachers at the secondary level have had the chance to offer their services to students at all levels. Physical disabilities and learning are some of the characteristics that define some of the students with special learning needs that the general education teachers have to take care of. Still, general educators have repeatedly had to grapple with personal issues regarding their ability to offer teaching assistance to these disabled students. This is in addition to their attitudes and beliefs concerning inclusion as a practice in teaching.
According to Leyser and Romi (2008, p. 711), regular education teachers, thanks to the inclusion construct, can place more emphasis on cultural, academic as well as social elements of children with disabilities, at a regular classroom setting. Regular education teachers are required to realign their instructional practices and methodologies of teaching to accommodate students with disabilities culturally, academically, and socially. Consequently, the regular education teachers are in a position to pave way for the establishment of positive outcomes for the learner.
Manhattan Day School
The philosophical foundation of Manhattan Day School is Torah. Manhattan Day School, established in 1943, has occupied the modern Orthodox community in New York for over 60 years. Deep ties to Eretz Yisrael and abiding by the same movement are the main characteristics of Manhattan Day School (Norwood & Polack 2007, p. 8). MDS has in place a clear philosophy of teaching: to establish a firm base via superior Hebrew language, secular as well as Judaic studies. Moreover, the learning environment at Manhattan Day School is constantly evolving. The school welcomes educative systems and strategies. Aside from embracing cutting-edge technology, MDS aggressively seek out any novel pedagogical program, method, or instrument that is both enlightening and empowering.
At Manhattan Day School, the provision of education supersedes information transmission. Due to this, the institution commits its students along a spiritual journey with the intention of transforming them into good, kind, whole, and strong Jewish individuals. Since Manhattan Day School is a firm believer in providing an inclusive environment, there is no discrimination for children to take part in any form of extracurricular activity, ranging from the sports team to the choir.
Orthodox Jewry has always been a mystery to the majority of the world’s population. The mode of dress, hair style, social and dietary habits, holidays and customs are greatly misunderstood not only by the non-Jewish community (which makes up 98.9 % of the world’s population) but also by a large part of those who are Jewish by birth but not by practice. Ever since Manhattan Day School was established, the institution has struggled to maintain ancient traditions, some of which dates as far back as the times of or before the Holy Temple of King Solomon. Assimilation is the greatest threat to culture, and this is no more the case with practicing Orthodox Jews here in America. At the forefront of this cultural battle are the Yeshivas or learning institutions that prepare their learners with the prerequisite knowledge, skills and appreciation of what it means to live, practice and believe in the Orthodox Jewish way of life.
Manhattan Day School is a learning institution where a large population of its student body is not aware of the strict necessities placed upon them by Torah and Rabbinic law. Torah law and rabbinic law go hand in hand according to the Orthodox tradition. As such, there are two major divisions amongst the Jewish population. On the one hand, there are members of the population that strictly adheres to the rabbinic law and on the other hand, those who do not.
Children of New York’s elite class dominated the population at Manhattan Day School. Members of this social class have an average income that amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars. With co-operative apartments in Trump Towers, apartments in Columbus Circle, Brown Stone homes on the upper west side and second homes in the Hamptons, it is possible to categorize the student body of Manhattan Day School as between ‘haves’ to the ‘have not’s, and therein lays the problem. Manhattan Day School is a modern Orthodox school or Yeshiva and as such, the institution tries to balance out the elements of spirituality with those of physicality.
With luxurious and privileged lifestyles at the disposal of the student population at Manhattan Day School, the need for adhering to the strict laws of Judaism seems unnecessary in achieving happiness. A new iMac or a weekend trip to see the Super Bowl takes greater precedence in the life of a young person than spending time reading ancient and irrelevant laws written in ancient Aramaic or Hebrew. The school is on Manhattan’s upper west side and has an average tuition of more than 15,000 dollars a year for its junior high school program. The school possesses a dual curriculum; one for secular studies and one for religious and theological studies in both rabbinic and biblical material.
Besides equipping students with the knowledge and expertise to be successful lifelong learners in the competencies of academia, Manhattan Day school helps them to achieve life-long skills, in addition to appreciating the lifestyle of an Orthodox Jew. The school enforces a dress code that follows the prescription of traditional dress as stipulated by rabbinic law. This means boys must cover their heads with a skullcap known as either a kippah or a yarmulke. They also must wear a four-cornered garment under their shirts that has specially knotted and wrapped woolen strings known as tzitzit.
Manhattan Day School requires that girls wear only skirts and shirts that cover their neckline and arms. The design of the school curricula at Manhattan Day School is such that throughout the day, a student of this school learns Judaic and secular studies. The allocation of ample time to both the Judaic and secular studies is necessary to help students achieve academic and spiritual studies. Government-based legislation has directed schools to generate learning programs that increase the opportunities for the learning disadvantaged to be acclimated to the general education classroom. This dissertation is a study of the experiences of a junior high school instructor in the implementation of a mainstreaming curriculum in a Jewish Theology day school. The goal of this study is to discover the experiences that the teacher has had with the implementation of such a program and what elements of the curriculum they believe were more advantageous. Accordingly, the study that shall be qualitative will endeavor to observe and record the experiences of special education teachers in Judaic studies in the implementation of a mainstreaming curriculum in a Jewish junior high school program.
As the mainstreaming program has been planned vigorously planned and implemented in the public school system of districts across the country, private schools have struggled with such programs due to the extra costs that special education curriculum entails. Tax dollars contributed by citizens in a particular district helps to support the public school system. Private schools depend on two sources of income, tuition, and donations. As such, it is a continuous challenge for the private schools to obtain and maintain the financial requirements. Therefore, private schools find it hard to sustain an inclusive program. However, the parents of students schooling at Manhattan Day School have no problem with sustaining an inclusive program. This is due largely in part to the parents’ ability to pay either the entire or most of the tuition, which for special education students exceeds 20,000 thousand dollars annually. Therefore, Manhattan Day School has created a special education department that focuses primarily on meeting the individualized educational programs of students in need of extra learning resources.
The creation and implementation of various strategies helps assuage both the secular and Judaic academia of these learning disadvantaged students. The strategy that will be the focus of this dissertation is the collaborative teaching model. In this format, two teachers (one special education instructor and one general education instructor) end up sharing a single classroom. Collaborative teaching technique employs various methodological tools (Gallo-Fox et al, 2005, p. 6). Both instructors can teach the same material but to separate groups, a technique referred to as parallel teaching. Another method is station teaching, when both teachers teach different materials.
On the other hand, research has shown that the relationship in a collaborative teaching model follows the trend of the general education teacher being the dominant element while the special education teacher takes on a lesser important role (Marn-Ling et al, 2007, p. 517). As learning disadvantaged students’ progress through the earlier grades such as first, second and third, the school’s special education department slowly introduces them to a general education classroom with the assistance of a special education teacher. At this point that both the general and special education instructors work in coordinative effort to establish a mainstreaming curriculum that best suits the learning issues of the learning disadvantaged students in their class.
One of the reasons the concept of mainstreaming is usually fraught with implementation constraints is that the regular education teachers have not received adequate training in special education. For this reason, when educational institutions endeavor to implement team teaching as a way of allowing both the special education teachers and their counterparts in general education to collaborate in a mainstreamed education set up, this arrangement usually lacks compatibility. For this reason, a successful implementation of mainstreaming within the context of education has proved to be a hard accomplishment. Therefore, the intention of this research study is to explore the challenges and experiences facing special education teachers in Judaic studies when implementing the mainstreaming program.
The fact that the education sector has not acted swiftly in implementing strategies geared toward enhancing collaboration between on the one hand, the special educators and on the other hard, their regular counterparts, further complicates the mainstreaming arrangement. Moreover, there is a need to appreciate the fact that very few research studies have examined the issue of mainstreaming from the perspective of a school with a Jewish background.
The gap in literature lies in the fact that researchers are yet to conduct a study on inclusion curriculum in the area of Jewish Theological subject matter. The literature review would progress to include sources that discuss the nature of Jewish Theological studies, what their content matter is and the relationship it has with those of the Jewish faith. The study that seeks to explore and record the experiences of special education teachers in Judaic studies, regarding the implementation of a mainstreaming curriculum in a Jewish junior high school program, would go a long way into shedding light on the challenges faced by instructors in inclusive learning, as they endeavor to implement mainstreaming. In addition, such a study would also go a long way into acting as reference point of future research studies into the same field.
- To assess the various perspectives of Special Education Instructors in Judaic studies, in a Collaborative Teaching Format That Stresses a Mainstreaming Curriculum, at Manhattan Day School.
- To examine the experiences of special education teachers in Judaic studies at Manhattan Day School.
- To assess the challenges facing special education teachers in Judaic studies at Manhattan Day School while implementing the inclusion program
- To examine the strategies employed by the special education teachers in Judaic studies at Manhattan Day School in implementing the inclusion program at the
Definition of terms
As per the definition by Villa and Thousand (2006, p. 4), inclusion refers to the commitment of educating a child to the highest possible level of learning, in that classroom and school the student in question would have attended under normal circumstances. From an operational point of view, inclusion refers to students of special education that have joined an education class for regular students for a given percentage of time in a day. Such percentages could range between 3 and 100 % percent, based on the individual needs of a student.
According to Modupe (2005, p. 12), mainstreaming refers to “the selective placement of special education students in one or more ‘regular’ education classes.” In terms of operation and for the benefit of informing this particular research study, mainstreaming revolves around disabled students integrated within the setting of a regular classroom.
Teacher attitude refers to the behavioral tendency of an educational instructor.
Co-teaching is a term refereeing to a model of teaching that has found application in the education program that integrates students with learning disabilities with their counterparts that do not have learning disabilities. According to Nevin, Villa and, Jacqueline (2008, p. 113), co-teaching is “an educational approach in which general and special educators work in a co-active and coordinated fashion to jointly teach heterogeneous groups of students in educationally integrated settings” (p. 18).
A disorder that renders an individual to experience difficulties concerning effective learning, often brought about by a factor (s) not yet clear. Accordingly, learning disability refers to students diagnosed with a disorder that involves the primary psychological processes crucial in the application or understanding of language (Statistics Canada, 2008). Such a disability could occur in that spoken or written language, which acts as a source of problem to a child in question, with respect to the ability of the child to speak, listen, write, read, perform various calculations in mathematics, or even spell.
Least restrictive environment
A term referring to the actions of according education opportunity to students with disability to enable them receive education in an integrated setting with their peers without learning disabilities ‘to the greatest extent possible’ (Naylor, 2005, p. 114).
The system of education meant for students with special learning needs, usually conducted in such a manner regarding catering for the individual needs and differences of such students (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2009). The arrangement of a special education program at a school setting is such that it permits the supervision of teaching procedures, equipments, and teaching materials. Furthermore, it is also possible to examine the special education system and if deemed necessary, interventions made to the system. The objective of such a system of special education is to assist the students with special learning needs to become more-self reliant in their learning experiences as well as to the outside world.
This is a term referring to the standard curriculum employed by the standard methods of teaching. Such a standard curricula lacks additional support, as is common with special education (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2000, p. 105).
- How do the special education teachers in Judaic studies at Manhattan day School define what their students need to achieve academically?
- What strategies are successful in increasing the classroom participation of the learners in special education?
- What factors, outside of academia, play a role in the success of mainstreamed students in the general curriculum?
- What relationship do special education teachers create with their students and how do they affect the learning?
- How do they balance their role as a teacher with that of the general teacher?
- How do the instructors motivate students in their religious studies?
Mostly, mainstreaming is a term used in reference to “the selective placement of special education students in one or more ‘regular’ education classes” (Leyser, & Tappendorf, 2001, p. 753). Mainstreaming proponents generally take it for granted that there is the need for a student to “earn” the chance of enrolling in a regular class. This comes about after such students have revealed that they are capable of handling tasks and assignments by a teacher from regular classrooms (Down, 2006, p. 394). In this case, the concept seems to bear a correlation with the conventional idea of special education.
Public Law 94-142 advocates for the provision to all handicapped children with educational services “in the least restrictive environment” (Ibrahim, 2005, p. 179). Accordingly, ‘mainstreaming’ came along as the popular term in reference to the activity of ensuring that handicapped children access educational services “in the least restrictive environment.” In other words, it is important to ensure that children with learning disabilities access learning resources in an environment that is as close as possible to their counterparts without learning disabilities (Ibrahim, 2005, p. 180).
Separately, Mu, Franck, and Konz (2007, p. 3) have explored the issue of the decision as regard whether or not children with learning disabilities needs inclusion in a similar environment of learning with non-handicapped peers. In this case, Ibrahim (2005, p.181) argues that unique traits that a child possesses, along with the unique educational requirements of such a child determines such a decision. Therefore, the “Least Restrictive Environment” (LRE) is a relative term bearing in mind that its meaning could differ from one setting to another, based on a specific child and specific circumstances.
Modupe (2005, p. 12) has revealed the diverse parts of LRE. In this case, regular class placement entails part of LRE, with support coming from teachers and special services. It is important consider the plight of children with special learning disabilities, and the educational facilities they have at their disposal. Here, the child with special needs is allocated time with a teacher in special education, to receive individualized instructions, while another portion of their learning time is spent in the resource room setting.
Many individual views mainstreaming as a wonderful accomplishment by the educational system. Indeed, there are those who are of the opinion that this is an idea whose implementation has been long in coming. Mainstreaming proponents harbor the idea that this concept enables children with learning disabilities to access additional educational opportunities. As a result, mainstreaming assist children with learning disabilities overcome the stigma that usually accompanies the labeling of such children (Modupe, 2005, p. 11).
In addition, proponents of the concept of mainstreaming contend that children with special needs have an opportunity to interact at a higher level with their peers who are not handicapped. As a result, this interaction helps these children to develop their social skills. To a majority of the people, “mainstreaming is a reminder that society has the same responsibility to protect and support the growth of children with disabilities as it has for all other children.” (Lewis & Doorlag, 2005, p.185). On the other hand, there is yet another group that advocate for mainstreaming based on the belief that mainstreaming enables children without any learning disabilities to expand their tolerance levels when encountering and interacting with their fellow students with learning disabilities. Until students with no learning difficulties encounters their counterparts who are challenged in learning,
Deshler and Schumaker (2005, p. 103) has noted that due to inclusion, children with learning disabilities manifest remarkable progress in learning. This normally occurs when schools expose such children to the same learning facilities and conditions as their counterparts with no learning disabilities. However, there is a need to provide these children with the required curricula modifications and instructional services, as a way of accommodating their special needs. Evidence also exists to support the claim that students with mild learning disabilities attains higher grades while at a regular classroom setting, as opposed to when they attend classes exclusively for children with special needs. This may be because of the acquired motivation by the special needs children when they integrate with their non-handicapped peers, as they endeavor to challenge them academically.
In 1975, Congress enacted into law The EAHCA (Education for All Handicapped Children Act). As a result, disabled children obtained permission to access “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) (Kimberlee et al, 2008, p. 2088) within a “least restrictive environment” (LRE). Then it was the estimation of Congress that well over 50 % of the entire population of children in the United States who had a learning disability was critically missing suitable education services. In addition, it was also the position of Congress that well over a million disabled children had no access to the inclusive learning program offered by the public school system in the United States (Kimberlee et al, 2008, p. 2089). A basic rationale for the enactment by Congress of the EAHCA in 1975 was with a view to seeing to it that the entire disabled children gained access to special education, along with its associated services.
The design of services related to special education helps to fulfill the individual and unique needs of children with disabilities. The 1975 statute witnessed a reauthorization of a number of times so that by 1990, the statute had changed its name to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
During the early 1990s, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act underwent several reviews so that the document could better serve the plight of children with special learning needs. Accordingly, the act introduced early childhood and early intervention services into the education system within the realm of special education. In addition, children with special learning needs in residential institutions reduced dramatically (Siegel, 2007, p. 216). Moreover, a rise in the number of children with learning disabilities completing high school was an indication that the implementation of IDEA was working. Even in the face of such positive changes, nonetheless, disabled children still had to grapple with a multitude of obstacles. For instance, attempts to have them join their peers without learning disabilities in the general education set up has been faced with implementation controversial challenges. Initially, mainstreaming was the practice of including students with learning disabilities in the regular classroom, a term that we now refer to as inclusion. Mainstreaming emphasized more on special education from the perspective of the setting in which it occurred, with little regard to the essential services and support needed (Siegel, 2007, p. 217).
Additionally, research studies at the time indicated that students with learning disabilities had a tendency to fail in their class work. These students also had a high dropout rate as well, when compared to their counterparts that had no learning disabilities (Siegel, 2007, p. 217). Accordingly, Johnson (2005, p.118) has noted: “Despite the progress, the promise of the law has not been fulfilled.” The reauthorization of IDEA in 1997 helped explore a potential solution to a majority of these problems, in addition to the introduction of significant changes in as far as educational services provision for those students who have learning disabilities are concerned. Disabled children need an introduction and exposure to the general education curricula, just like their peers that do not have learning disabilities (Siegel, 2007, p. 218).
On the other hand, “general curriculum” as a nonspecific term, has not received any form of definition within the regulations or statute. However, the stature later on refer to the term as “the same curriculum as for non-disabled children” (Hartley & Whitehead, 2006, p. 239). The IDEA ’97 law further stipulates that disabled students need to take an active role in as far as the general curriculum development is concerned. There are there different by interrelated stages that identify the general curricula. These stages are involvement, access as well as progress (Hartley & Whitehead, 2006, p. 89). To start with, access is a term that explores how accessible a curriculum is, from the point of view of the student.
Second, involvement may be seen as an “on-going process of meaningful participation and, as such, is an interim phase that links access to progress” (Hartley, & Whitehead, 2006, p. 89). The third stage, progress, is a term that refers to the outcome as well as an evaluative measure, which could very well undergo a full cycle to the stage of access, to involvement, and back to progress. In this regard, it may be safe to view these three stages as a kind of an ongoing cycle. The IDEA draft of 1997 highly values the ability of students with special learning needs accessing education.
As a result, the involvement of these students in the education system and the progress that they make in such a system is symbolic of a fundamental advance with regard to affording education to students with a learning disability.
What is the position of the law on mainstreaming?
A hot debate surrounds the issue of full inclusion. The prevailing trends seem to incline toward inclusion, even as the debate rests on LRE due to academic and social reasons (Peterson, 2006, p. 65). Despite the fact that inclusion as a term gained popularity during the 1990s, nevertheless, its meaning has for decades found application amongst schools. In this regard, mainstreaming has realized the implementation of LRE, Regular Education Initiative (REI) as well as continuum of services, with the intention of fulfilling the requirements of LRE.
One of the requirements of both Public Law 101-476 (IDEA) and Public Law 94-142 is that schools should attain LRE (least restrictive environment) requirements. In order that schools may adhere to these laws, there is a need for the school administrators to see to it that each of their students with a learning disability receive an extensive integration with the rest of their peers who are without learning disabilities. The law further provides that all students access suitable and free education. Peterson (2006, p. 66) opines that defining and interpreting LRE is an undertaking that is proving to be quite a dilemma to a majority of the schools. Incidentally, the full inclusion program at the school level has received support from the public. On the other hand, there are additional members of the public that would wish to advocate for a system of education that though not fully inclusive, it accord students with learning disabilities similar learning experiences like their counterparts without any learning disabilities.
Scmokers undertook a research study in 2006 and according to his research findings, just about 25 % of teachers interviewed in the survey responded in the affirmative that they had at their disposal ample training, time as well as personnel/material resources needed for a successful implementation of the inclusion/mainstreaming exercise (Schmokers, 2006, p. 89). In addition to the debate of inclusion, there is compelling evidence to suggest that the number of students with learning disabilities in the United States appears to have greatly increased, in recent years. For example, there has been an increase in the number of SLD (special learning disabilities) children under IDEA (individuals with disabilities education act) by a rate of 34 % for the past nine years (Patterson, 2005, p. 64). In the face of the rise in the number of students with learning disabilities, signs are that an escalation in the number of students with special learning needs will affect both students and teachers. Hines (2001, p. 4) contends that this is a situation that needs to be a source for concern by all, especially in view of the fact that the education resources allocated to the activity of mainstreaming have not increased in tandem with the number of students with special needs.
A number of parents to children without any learning disability have also voiced their concern of a possible reduction in terms of attention and time that their children stand to receive. The reasoning is that including students with learning disabilities in the same learning environment with their counterparts with no learning disabilities might result in a labeling of students (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2000, p. 118). In this case, certain individuals within a learning setup that has implemented a mainstreaming program view the plight of special education students from the point of view of their learning disability, devoid of fully comprehending the facts that characterizes mainstreaming. Sometimes, the attitudes that individual within an education environment that practices mainstreaming have regarding students with learning negative learning disabilities. The implication here could be that such a negative attitude may influence the behavior of these individuals as they attempts to assist the students with special education needs adjust to the mainstreaming program. In light of this, labels contribute toward the attitudes of teachers regarding their students who could be in need of special education.
A further criticism of the application of instruments and labels has also sufficed since labels bear a correlation with predetermined ideas regarding characteristics and behaviors that have the potential to result in negative attitudes (Lambe & Bones, 2006, p. 513). Students with learning disabilities are the recipient of negative attention, in addition to the fact that children with special learning needs are required to survive within an otherwise hostile learning environment. Sharma and colleagues (2006, p. 84), undertook a research study in 2006. According to the research findings of this study, the respondents, in this case teachers concurred that they were in support of inclusion/mainstreaming. Of the 7, 385 teachers that the study surveyed, 65 % of these (4, 801) were in full support of the inclusion/mainstreaming concept.
Mainstreaming/Inclusion in special education
With respect to special education, the concept of inclusion is somewhat controversial because it integrates social and educational values, in addition to the aspect of self-worth. According to Smith and colleagues (2008, p. 29), any form of discussion regarding inclusion needs to address a number of fundamental questions. For example, are all children valued in a similar manner? What is the true meaning of “inclusion”? Do we have a group of children for whom the idea of “inclusion” remains an inappropriate concept?
It is worth appreciating the importance of views held by both proponents and opponents on the issue of inclusion. This is despite the fact that these two groups have divergent views on inclusion. For example, Leatherman (2007, p.246) perceive inclusion as more a policy whose driving force is the concept of saving money. Moreover, the authors contend that by attempting to coerce the entire student congregation into an inclusion setting, this is a discriminatory and coercive attempt, as would have been the case with attempting to force the entire congregation of students to fit into classes meant for special education. We also have scholars of the opinion that “regular education classroom” is the place for students (for example, Lambe, & Bones, 2006, 524). Additionally, it is also the position of these scholars that if at all a teacher is in a position to cater for the needs of the various students under his/her watch, notwithstanding the nature of those needs; such a teacher is “good.”
In the midst of the opponents and proponents regarding the issue of inclusion, a group of parents and educators are yet to come into terms with the concept of inclusion. The confusion revolves around the legality of the concept, in addition to questions on whether this is what is best for their children (Peterson & Hittie, 2003, p. 92). Opponents have raised questions on the concept of inclusion, and how school personnel may take necessary actions to cater for the needs that characterizes children who have a disability when, it comes to learning.
Attitude of teachers on inclusion/mainstreaming
Bearing in mind that inclusion impact on a majority of the students, preceding research has sought to examine circumstances surrounding the concept, with an emphasis on mainstreaming issue that leaves a positive impact on the experiences of the students. Accordingly, there are several variables preceding research studies that have highlighted, and these include amongst others the attitude of administrators, available educational resources (both outside and inside of classes) as well as professional support (Marn-Ling et al, 2007, p. 523). Nonetheless, a positive attitude by the teachers is the one vital variable that a majority of the preceding research studies appears to emphasize on, as it impact greatly on an inclusion exercise that is successful.
According to Marn-Ling and colleagues (2007, p. 524), the activity of ensuring that students with learning needs seek additional professional support in the form of teachers may very well contribute to the perceived positive attitude, by teachers. After time, research has revealed that teachers usually view collaboration with their fellow teaching staff as a necessity in ensuring that inclusive schooling is successful. Many teacher have cited diverse forms of teaching support (for instance, educational assistants), according to interviewed administered to teachers using open-ended questions on the factors that could enhance inclusive placements. Nevertheless, it is very rare for responses to open-ended questionnaires to explore fully the general attitudes of teachers and other educators on inclusion (Marn-Ling et al, 2007, p. 524).
The absence or presence of extra support staff with regard to inclusion is an area that preceding research have not been able to address adequately.
Basic attitude measures regarding the issue of inclusion that has found application in the present research studies (for instance, ‘Attitudes Toward Mainstreaming Scale’) have not addressed the number of extra staff resources that a regular teacher may anticipate to have at their disposal, in a bid to offer students with assistance in the process of inclusion.
Even as ‘inclusive education’ movement constitutes a larger portion of human rights agenda; nevertheless a majority of the educators still harbor an unwillingness to assist in the placement of students with learning disability into mainstream schools (Lambe, 2007, p. 359). Over the years, the area of inclusive education has been research to a great deal. In this case, education researchers have placed emphasis on the attitude of teachers, head teachers, pre-school administrators as well as psychologists. Research findings indicate diverse variations from professionals regarding the perceptions that they hold on the students likely to benefit from an integration process. Accordingly, Klavina, Block, and Larins (2007, p. 28) argue that the attitudes of these professionals on the issue of integrations will be dependent on educational problems, in addition to the severity of the disabilities in question. In addition, the teachers’ professional background shall somewhat impact in the attitudes that these teachers could form.
Separately, Elliot (2008, p. 14) has reported of diverse variations on the opinion of teachers regarding implementing mainstreaming program to the general education classroom setting. Elliot reveled in his study that the attitudes of teachers varied in terms of diverse groups of children, whom they considered as ideal for participating in the mainstreaming exercise. Even as the responses of teachers could differ with regard to the issue of creating educational systems to support mainstreaming; nevertheless there is a need to appreciate the fact that teachers shall generally agreed on some elements of integration.
Lancaster and Bain (2007, p. 245), by undertaking an observational research on the issue of inclusion and the attitudes of teachers, arrived at a conclusion that the attitude of a teacher contributes significantly to the various educational programs in existence, especially in as far as inclusion is concerned. Lancaster and Bain (2007, p. 245) contends that there are a limited number of research studies that have been done to explore on the issue of teachers attitudes regarding inclusion. The beliefs and attitudes that teachers in general education harbors regarding mainstreaming practices could affect the learning environment at school, along with equal opportunities for education for those students who characterized by a learning disability.
Most of the available literature on the attitudes of teachers provides that many teachers in general education are philosophically in favor of mainstreaming, although a majority of them are still in doubt of their self-efficacy (or innate ability) to execute such programs successfully (Ruef, 2003, p. 3). Gallo-Fox and colleagues (2005, p.17) have defined self-efficacy of a teacher as that cognitive mechanism responsible for behavior regulation. Self-efficacy evolves with the maturity of a teacher’s personal confidence. Accordingly, a matured teacher will have mastered the necessary competencies to enable them attains the desired results.
Pappas (2008) carried out an experimental study whose results indicated that the feelings, thoughts and actions of teachers significantly contribute the students’ education outcomes. Such a philosophy bears a connection to the social cognitive theory. According to this theory, past achievements (both failures and successes) tend to bring about self-efficacy because of an individual’s psychological state, in addition to other people’s persuasions. The beliefs, expectations and attitudes of a teacher, in addition to the way in which students perceives them, contributes in a significant way to the manner in which such students can respond to a certain environment of learning (Pappas, 2008, p. 20).
Mastropieri and Scruggs (2000, p. 13), conducted a research study whose conclusive findings indicated that the attitudes of teachers have a profound effect on those students with disabilities undergoing through the mainstreaming system. In this case, the authors sought to explore those factors, impacts on secondary teachers’ ability to fulfill the requirements of students with disabilities in mainstreamed classrooms. Mastropieri and Scruggs examined the beliefs and attitudes of teachers on inclusive education. Further, the authors examined the capability of teachers to offer an education to students with disabilities, their need fro training as well as materials adaptation, amongst others. The study revealed vital differences in terms of expressed training needs, as these relates to the general and special educators alike.
According to an univariate assessment of this study, regular educators are of the opinion that there is the need to provide training in assessment, program modification, the creating and execution of curriculum as well as behavior management (Terwel, 2005, p.654). Terwel examined the attitude of teachers because of its impact on the settings of inclusive education. In his study, Terwel intended to assess the feelings and attitudes of self-efficacy in the case of special and general educators, in addition to recognizing the necessary training to ensure that the process of inclusion attained success.
The beliefs and attitudes of teachers on the issue of confidence levels, along with the necessary training, constituted the major part of this particular research study. Leyser and Tappendorf (2001, p. 714) have opined that the amount of confidence that the general education teachers at the secondary level possess with respect to their capability to assist students with special needs could affect the outcome of such students. The importance of understanding the way in which teachers perceive inclusion as an education practice since teachers play a pivotal role concerning instituting educational reforms. In addition, teachers have a one-on-one interaction with students and so their perceptions and feelings shall eventually affect the nature of their association with such students.
Evidence in literature to support the claim that inclusion has indeed altered the perception of teachers in terms of mainstreaming students with disabilities into regular classrooms. For instance, Nevin, Villa, and Jacqueline (2008, p. 21) have reported that mainstreaming is more of an assurance that the right instructional strategies and school curriculum will be used to match the individual educational requirements of students with disabilities. Smith (2008, p. 134) have reported of a study in which teachers were the respondents, regarding the issue of inclusion. In this study, most of the teachers interviewed revealed negative feelings over the idea of mainstreaming. The teachers were particularly skeptical of how mainstreaming would affect the students’ academic performance, with respect to the special as well as the general education setting. Additionally, the teachers also expressed litigation fears, a possible increase in workload, potential implementation problems, in addition to the manner in which such a model could affect the roles that teachers played at the classroom level.
Similarly, Hartley and, Whitehead (2007, p. 48) have reported of negative attitude on mainstreaming in education, at a time when students with disabilities lacked proper support at the regular classroom settings. In this case, the author contends that the very act of placing students with disabilities within inclusionary settings, and in the absence of necessary resources, is an act that is not only irresponsible, but also inappropriate. Kamens, Loprete, and Slostad (2003, p. 24) have cited the benefits and drawbacks of inclusion. According to the study, the respondents (in this case teachers) opined that an increase in the understanding and acceptance by the students of students with disabilities, is a potential advantage further, the teachers concurred that if provided with sufficient support, the disabled students are in a position to attains succession their academic work. On the other hand, this author has also cited a number of limitations that accompanies inclusion. Teachers in the conventional educational setting exhibits high levels of ineffectiveness regarding instructional strategies.
Moreover, teachers interviewed opined that a majority of the inclusion programs were quite deficient in terms of finances. Furthermore, the available staff to implement the inclusion exercise had received little if any training to enable them to attend adequately to disabled students (Swanson, Harris & Graham, 2005, p. 176). Swanson and colleagues have opined that one of the leading challenges in as far as the issue of inclusion is concerned the belief by teachers of their deficiency in necessary instructions needed to teach disabled children. Swanson and colleagues (2005, p. 177) further propose that even as the idea of integrating general education and special education could appear somewhat appealing at face value, nevertheless, such a practice could result in an unmerited trouble to the education system, as it seeks to fulfill the educational wishes of the entire congregations of students within the system. Lambe and Bones (2006, p. 513) have also supported the idea by Swanson and colleagues.
The authors contend that inclusion opponents opine that by placing disabled students in classes meant for regular students, this acts as a source of burden to the teachers within the general education system.
According to Gottlieb (2006, p. 64), a school environment “…is one in which students with the full range of abilities and disabilities receive their in-school educational services in the general education classroom with appropriate in-class support…Inclusion is based upon the presumption of starting with the norm and then making adaptations as needed, rather than focusing on the abnormal and trying to fix disabilities to make students fit into a preconceived notion of what is normal.” (Ruef, 2003, p. 4).
Gottlieb (2006) reports on an article appearing in Hartford Courant, and which has concentrated on the implementation of a transition program that was taking place within the school system of Hartford Public. As this author has noted, “…six months later, teachers, parents and experts say, the system is [still] in crisis: Special education students are not getting the services they need, regular classrooms are being disrupted and teachers are exasperated” (Gottlieb, 2006).
Gottlieb (2006) further opines that, “the success of programs that accommodate students with special needs depends on the supports and training available to general educators.” Seeing that the issue of mainstreaming students in need of special education is a practice that is becoming quite rampant in a majority of the schools, several scholars and educationist have assessed the attitudes of both regular and special education teachers on mainstreaming. Virgina (2006, p. 7) has provided a review of past related articles regarding the perceptions of teachers at the classroom level, on the concept of mainstreaming.
This article has provided the teachers’ views and highlighted common themes of similar articles of mainstreaming. It emerged that even as over 50 % teachers taking part in these surveys were of the opinion that mainstreaming, at attempt at ensuring that students with disability gained access to similar education resource as their counterparts without any disabilities. On the other hand, only a few of these teachers were of the opinion that they had access to the needed resources to guarantee mainstreaming became a success.
Haider (2008, p. 631) has revealed, “General education teachers expressed concern over the adequacy of their own preparation, class size, workload, grading policy, and ability to give equal attention to all students.” This particular research finding reverberate the general concerns of many educators. Kamens and colleagues (2003, p. 21) have also revealed similar research findings. Acceding to the findings of these authors, “A good proportion [of regular classroom teachers] also believed that they did not have sufficient classroom time for inclusion efforts, that they were not prepared to teach students with disabilities, and that they might not receive the support necessary for inclusion efforts.” This particular discovering reveals an alarming discovery, in that, “Many general education teachers are limited in their knowledge of special education law and policies, yet they play an integral role in educating students with special needs” (Patterson, 2005, p. 131).
Devoid of enough knowledge on as well as training regarding how to take care of students with special needs, teachers within the classroom setting of regular education discover that, “the overwhelming challenge for [them] is to obtain the skills necessary to meet the needs of all students in their classrooms and implement successful inclusive practice” (Kamens, 2003, p. 22). In yet another research study that focused on regular teachers at an elementary school, researchers subjected their respondents (in this case the elementary teachers) to the survey as a way of exploring their views on the development of an ideal curriculum and education program to guarantee success in teaching students in an inclusive learning environment (Lewis & Doorlag, 2005, p. 19). This study revealed that the teachers interviewed were of the opinion that education as well as information on particular disabilities of learning as well as collegial and administrative support necessary to ensure that a successful transition was attained (Paterson, 2006, p. 63).
A different study focused on the perceptions held by teachers regarding the necessary resources for an effective implementation of inclusive learning. Results of this study indicated that 94 % of teachers in regular classrooms were of the opinion that there was the need to undertake training, for a successful implementation of inclusive learning. Nevertheless, just about 28 % of the teachers interviewed by the survey responded that they had received training on inclusive learning. Therefore, tension exists between “…maximizing achievement and integration at the same time…greater inclusion is chosen even if it may mean a less effective education” (Kavale, 2002, p. 209).
The passing of education laws guarantees the implementation of an inclusion program. Passing of such laws means that educational institutions are obliged to comply with the stipulations of the law. A majority of the schools have resorted to an embracing of a full inclusion, even as they lack the learning resources that inclusion relies on. Documented research finings indicates that both he special education teachers, along with their general education counterparts, stands to benefit from inclusion. (Patterson, 2006, p. 209) contends that in the case of successful “inclusive settings, students can learn to understand, respect, be sensitive to, and grow comfortable with individual differences and similarities among their peers.”
Many researchers and educators have researched the area of inclusive learning. The intention has been to examine the successes and challenges of implementing such a program within the educational institutions. One practice that has proved to be quite successful with respect to the reduction of stress often experienced by teachers in regular classrooms is the idea of co-teaching, better known as collaborative teaching approach (Kimberlee et al, 2008, p. 2090). Additionally, a number of scholars have sought to provide those elements quite critical if at all an inclusion programs is to become successful.
Ruef (2003, p. 3) has examined five strategies thought to assist in the establishment of a “meaningful, inclusive” environment. Moreover, Barb Paterson presented his work titled, “Inclusion Strategies That Really Work: A Practical Approach to Special Education in the Regular Classroom”, at a seminar on the implementation of inclusive learning. Paterson tabled 10 diverse elements that play a significant role in guaranteeing that an inclusion program becomes a success. Paterson (2006, p. 4) has provided these crucial elements in inclusive learning, and they include time, planning, flexibility, communication, joint ownership, preparation of parents, selection f curriculum, disciplinary program, varied instruction, and timing. Sharma (2006, p. 89) has also examined similar factors of inclusive learning. Moreover, the author has also presented talks at various schools on the importance of implementing an inclusive education programs.
Inclusion “is a term which expresses commitment to educate each child, to the maximum extent appropriate, in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend” (Sharma, 2006, p. 89). By inclusion, a child enjoys the privilege of acquiring the educational services brought to them, as opposed to transferring the child to an education environment that provides the necessary resource for inclusive learning (Sharma, 2006, p. 89). In this regard, the requirements of inclusion are that the child shall stand to benefit from participating in a regular class, as opposed to the child matching their educational prowess of other children.
Inclusion proponents largely are in support of the delivery of services on novel educational forms. On the other hand, full inclusion implies that all students, notwithstanding the severity of their handicap, benefit from an integrated learning program that includes students with learning disabilities and their counterparts without any learning disability. In this case, there is a need to ensure students with special learning needs access the necessary educational services according to the educational setting that their condition demands. Sharma (2006, p. 90) has pointed out that problems usually abound regarding the definition of full inclusion within the perspective of mainstreaming in education.
Nevertheless, it is important to put in mind the fact that usually, a conceptual or philosophical distinction shall occur between on the one hand, mainstreaming and, on the other hand, inclusion. According to proponents of mainstreaming, children with special learning needs are better of in an education environment suitable for special education (Leatherman, 2007, p. 604). In addition, such proponents also argue that the child ought to have a guarantee of entry to an environment of regular education.
The concept of inclusion has offered a challenge to the professionals in special and general education alike to embrace shared responsibility in as far as ensuring that students with learning disabilities can get a suitable educational program (Leatherman, 2007, p. 605). The implication of the inclusion exercise is that students characterized by a learning disability shall stand to benefit from quality education hand in hand with their fellow students without any learning disabilities.
According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (2005, p. 5) inclusion may be seen as more of an endeavor to “establish collaborative, supportive, and nurturing communities of learners that are based on giving all students the services and accommodations they need to learn, as well as respecting and learning from each other’s individual differences” (p. 5). According to the proponents of inclusion, implementing an inclusive learning program has many benefits. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reveals that inclusive programs are more superior with regard to the impact that they have on students with mild learning disabilities, as opposed to their peers in segregated settings.
The need to give more attention to the importance of ensuring that learning students appreciate the diversity in their different learning experiences is necessary.
Additional points that may support the need for inclusion/mainstreaming is the need to have suitable role models, the proper forms of preparation in readiness to community living in the future, the creation of a community support network (Ruef, 2003, p. 4) and an increase in the levels of expectations of teachers for skills and behaviors. There is also the issue of enhanced social gains for those students with learning disabilities (Kamens, Loprete & Slostad, 2003, p. 23).
Many authors have attempted to explore various reasons why the concept of inclusive learning has not received massive support as expected. Such reasons range from general education teachers whose training on handing students with learning disabilities is inadequate (Kamens et al, 2003, p. 23), the inability of the professionals within the education sector to work and problem-solve in collaboration. Insufficient support the teachers in general education, negative impact with regard to the time used by teachers to attend to the entire students congregation within the classes, uncertainty in terms of academic and social benefits for students with learning disabilities as well as inadequate support with respect to school administration, to enable for the teachers to exert flexibility concerning their schedules for problem solving and planning (Moreillon, 2008, p. 217).
How effective is inclusion?
Klavina, Block and & Larins (2007, p. 29) impelemnting the inclusion policy in an educational setting has many benefits in comparison with the difficulties associated with such an exercise. For instance, the authors argue that for students who have a disability in learning, inclusion enables them access additional social behavior because of higher expectations for students in a general education classroom setting. Additionally, inclusion enhances higher levels of achievement or achievement levels nearly at par with students in self-contained classroom settings. Moreover, students in an inclusive learning environment are likely to access additional education support, in addition to social support. On the other hand, students with learning disabilities often lack these additional benefits. Additionally, inclusion increases the teachers and students’ ability to adapt to diverse styles of learning and teaching (Klavina, 2007, p. 30). In addition, the position of these authors is that the students in the general education category may also benefit because of the inclusion exercise. In this case, inclusion provides such students the benefit of an additional teacher, to facilitate in skills development. Inclusion also enables the students without a disability to accept their peers with disabilities.
Further, inclusion enables us to comprehend that the identification of students with learning disabilities is not an easy task. Research seems to offer support to a majority of these assertions. Kavale (2002, p. 208) discovered benefits for general as well as special education student, by conducting a research on an elementary school setting in which the inclusion concept was implemented.
Kavale found out that enhanced social skills for the students with low achievement student. Furthermore, the authors have reported that all the students involved experienced the importance of appreciating not just others, but also themselves. Leyser and Tappendorf (2001, p. 626), in a research study that sought to explore the concept of inclusion at the secondary and elementary level, reports that in an inclusive setting academic performance is at par, if not better that the setting for general education students. This also takes into account the high achievers. Inclusion seems to enhance social performance because of the high level of tolerance and a better comprehension of student differences.
A review of the current educational curricula and methods of teaching are important steps in facilitating the successful implementation of the process of inclusion. Such a review will allow for diversity with respect to the various students with differing learning needs (Deshler & Schumaker, 2005, p. 44). The Education Commission has offered reforms a proposal that provides the likelihood of all students gaining immensely from a learning strategy that embraces an inclusive approach that is more student-centered, in as far as the activity if teaching is concerned. Furthermore, such a student-centered approach could also offer increased flexibility in terms of curriculum development. This kind of a change, if successfully implemented, would without doubt enable those students with special learning needs to benefit from a system of education that bets suits their abilities. Different authors on special education
Several authors have sought to explore the possibility of harnessing the general environment if learning to accommodate mainstreamed students (Deshler & Schumaker, 2005, p. 44), despite increasing criticism on the current curricula for students with special learning needs. Amongst educators, debate is rife on the concept of mainstreaming. However, there is limited research on how effective teachers are in handling students in a mainstreamed education setting (Down, 2006, p. 395). Research work carried out during the early 1980s has assisted educators in developing opinions about the level of responsiveness of students with learning disabilities when they are introduced into an inclusive learning environment. For instance, Ibrahim (2005, p. 183), contend that teachers allocated those students achieving low education grades to tasks and groups who demanded less academic expectations. Consequently, students with the greatest needs for education ended up acquiring the lowest number of academic resources.
Mu, Franck, and Konz (2007, p. 3) have also reported similar findings. The seminal work of these authors indicate that those students characterised by a disability in learning (a) are twice likely to receive negative feedback, compared to their peers and (b) class teacher are twice likely to ignore them, relative to their counterparts without any learning disability. In the same way, a recent research survey indicates that even as the teachers for regular students award extra instructional time when compared to their counterparts for students with learning disabilities, those students characterised by mild disabilities are more likely to spend extra time in a room setting for educational resources.
Any form of evidence with the potential to point at inequality across or in a class set up is bound to raise a red flag. Nevertheless, such findings have been minimized, to a certain extent, thanks to research studies that recognize instructional relatedness (Mu et al, 2007, p. 7). For example, the feedback from teachers, and more so instructional praise, has been seen to be either missing or inadequate for the special education classes as well as the regular. A number of other research studies indicate that the allocation of sufficient time for teaching high-impact interactions, as well the issuing of instructions, could be deficient in the curricula of students characterised by a learning disability not just in a regular class setting, but also for the special classes (Mu et al, 2007, p. 7). Even as students seem to make a proper adjustment at a group setting in classes, chances are that they could end up not attaining sufficient educational progress. This is a point that is worth of note, considering that a majority of the practicing teachers rarely implements questions or instructional models sufficient; not unless they have received the necessary training.
A number of researchers assert that neither students devoid of any learning disability, nor mainstreamed students seek sufficient time with regard to academic instruction (Kam & Wong, 2008, p. 74). If it is true that instructional deficits impacts on children in a similar manner, there is a need therefore to take into account the fact that high-quality instructions could also record related consequences. Swanson and colleagues (2005, p. 274); for instance, observes mainstreamed students are out to benefit from similar “effective teaching behaviors” to those that a regular student on education receives. Swanson and colleagues (2005, p. 26) argues that enhanced and combined classes bears almost the same value as (a) students lacking any from of a disability in a regular class setting and (b) students characterised by mild disabilities in a room with educational resources.
In the same way, Sharma, and colleagues (2006, p. 82) have found out that improvements with regard to the performance of regular education students occurred at a time when teaching practices have effectively been implemented, in place of mainstream students. If, without a doubt, there is a need to have improvements within the general environment of education, it becomes necessary to explore the consequences of these kinds of improvements to learners. Ryan and Joong (2005, p. 9), by undertaking a research on mainstreaming discovered that as a result of a comparatively reserved in-service package to facilitate effective practices of teaching, the teachers who took part in this survey ended up enhancing their levels of interaction with the entire group of students under their care.
Separately, Liu, and Qi (2005) have offered that the existence in difference between the level of interaction that students and their teachers enjoy, is a possibility. For instance, teachers make use of unguided and guided discovery, lecture, experimentation, text as well as field trips in a manner that differs in terms of content areas. Nevertheless, Swanson, and colleagues (2005) have indicated that when integrating instructional design principles with interactive technology could result in an enhanced instructional efficacy, even as difference exists with regard to content.
Opinions of educators on Mainstreaming/integration
Jones, Thorn, Chow, Thompson, and Wilde (2002), opine that amongst educators, positive attitudes as regard inclusion appears to be on the increase, as a result of the high rate at which schools are incorporating the concept of inclusion into their education system. Voltz, Brazil, and Ford (2001) have indicated that the need for all the members of staff of a school to assist in supporting and meeting students’ needs forms a vital part of inclusion. The implication is that the teacher for special education would collaborate with their counterparts in general education to provide for the educational needs of classes made up of students without learning disabilities as well as their peers with learning disabilities.
The lack of separate classroom meant for students with special educational needs implies full inclusion. Nonetheless, Ryan, and Joong (2005) assert that educators appear to be in support of partial inclusion. The implication is that educators somewhat concurs with the requirements for least restrictive environment, by IDEA. According to these requirements, those children with learning disabilities integrate with their peers that without any learning disabilities to the most suitable extent. Moreover, according to the IDEA guidelines for a least restrictive environment, the exclusion of a student with a learning disability may only occur if the disability in question is severe enough to hinder their learning progress under the inclusive classroom setting. To the extent that the nature of the disability manifested in the students in question hinders an inclusive program, the IDEA recommends that such students are exposed to an equipped classroom setting that supports specials education.
The objective of mainstreaming/inclusion should be the need to enhance the available opportunities to enable students learn in a collaborative effort, regardless of the population of the student involved, or even the subject area that is the source of discussion. Most of the research that hinges upon inclusion appears to vary from that, which and do not therefore address the plight of students with learning disabilities adequately. Kochhar, West, and Taymans (2000), contend that the primary goal of all educators is the need to implement an education system, which integrates the general as well as the special education and at the same time also cutting across the different services and disciplines in the system.
A lack of abilities or knowledge for sufficiently addressing the needs of students with learning disabilities remains one of the leading complaints amongst general education teachers. Accordingly, their fear is that they are not in the best position from a professional point of view to attend to the need on an inclusion education system (McLeskey & Waldron, 2002, p. 66). Opinions regarding inclusion are diverse. A majority of the arguments concerning inclusion hinges upon full inclusion, in addition to level of inclusion that is most suitable to suit the needs of an individual student.
Lambe (2007, p. 361) argues that full inclusion proponents harbor the belief that students with learning disabilities may be comfortably accommodated within the set up of general education from a physical, social as well as academic point of view, through the incorporation of various accommodations, and without as much as causing a disturbance to the remainder of the classroom. In contrast, the authors have also argued that a disagreement exists amongst the special educators as regard the beliefs and academic components, to the effect that the academic needs of a number of the students may be more successfully fulfilled on a special education system.
On the whole, the feeling is that a majority of the educators appears to favor partial inclusion, in place of full inclusion. Nevertheless, these educators are also in agreement that an individual student shall have their own unique needs and that it is necessary to ensure that all students have access to similar education services, regardless of whether they have learning disabilities. A need for educators to come to terms with the fact that the issue is not all about embracing a full inclusion system per se arises. Lambe (2007) opines that the main goal of implementing an inclusive learning curriculum is that of continuously improving the requirements for students with learning disabilities, in terms of resources and professional support. An additional attitude that general education teachers hold regarding inclusion is concerned is that additional work for them with result (Lambe, 2007, p. 527). When teachers are already overwhelmed with their regular educational duties, the idea of adding onto that workload the concept of inclusion could result in them harboring a negative attitude about the concept in question. According to Jensen (2006, p. 172), the repercussions of teacher workload as a result of inclusions may end up bringing about negative outcomes on the entire student congregation, regardless of their learning disabilities, or lack of.
In order that an inclusion exercise may be successful, it is important to ensure that there is enough collaboration amongst the various parties involved. The most important form of collaboration exists between on the one hand, general education teachers and, on the other hand, their peers from the special education section. Leyser and Tappendorf (2001, p. 757) reveals that when general education teachers and the special education counterparts receive pre-service or in-service training together, this may help them to learn skills and share ideas on ways of the most effective ways of teaming up together, teaching, and collaborating.
Precup and colleagues (2006, p. 84) are of the opinion that there is a need to have the general education teachers as well as the special education teachers to form a collaboration regarding concerns, issues, structure and appropriate instructions within the classroom setting, to effectively attend to students with a learning disability. A number of authors (for example, Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2000; Rice, 2006, p. 254), are of the opinion that the classroom setting for general secondary education is similar to LRE (least restrictive environment) for students experiencing difficulties with the process of learning. In this case, it is important to put in mind that validation for the creation inclusive classrooms has more to do with principle, as opposed to research findings.
Ryan and Joong (2005, p. 11) have noted that through an educational inclusion, students gain an exposure to the curriculum serving general education students. Furthermore, it is also an opportunity for such students to enhance their social skills as well as benefit from the services of qualified content specialist. The concept of inclusion at the level of secondary education poses a challenge because it stresses more on content knowledge at a higher level, independent study skills as well as an enhanced pace of the issuance of instructions, in addition to pressures as a result of high-stakes testing (Frase-Blunt, 2000, p. 7). Such expectations could symbolize problematic areas with respect to students with a learning disability. These students usually lack in skills and content knowledge.
Acquisition of high-level skills could prove to be a tall order to attain, within the setting of inclusion education owing to wide range of skills levels and styles of learning which calls for a number of delivery modes as well as specialized techniques of teaching. The definition of “inclusion” has not been quite consistent with respect to the educational community. In addition, there is a wide variation of inclusive programs.
For purposes of informing research studies, such variables as the amount and nature of support to both students and teachers in the setting of the inclusions model have not been effortlessly restricted (Hines, 2001, p. 5). Accordingly, formal research, which seeks to explore how an inclusive learning program affects disabled students’ academic outcomes, is somewhat conflicting.
Furthermore, it draws attention to the levels of complexity that characterizes inclusive practices. Assessing the effectiveness of an inclusive education program is not easy. Inclusion critics refer to those research findings that advocates that inclusive practices hinders or impacts on disabled student’s learning outcomes. Zevin (2007, p. 174) has attempted to exhaustively examine co-teaching as a leading service-delivery model for inclusive education. However, the author only managed to locate a total of four research studies, which emphasized on the gains of academic achievement. In this case, three out of the four research studies took place at an elementary setting. Furthermore, the researchers in this case arrived at a conclusion those inclusive practices that identifies co-teaching proved equally effective with regard to the attainment of academic achievement for the students with learning disabilities, in a similar manner to the results obtained as a result of consultations or resources from instruction, under the guidance of a teacher in general education.
On the other hand, in terms of the four research studies that conducted at the high school level, the test scores for the students in question were found to have actually deteriorated as a result of the implementation. Separately, two authors, McLeskey, and Waldron (2002, p. 73), by way of examining literature related to co-teaching, arrived at a conclusion that regardless of the existing and the gain in recognition of the concept of co-teaching as a leading service-delivery model for inclusion, nevertheless, there is a need for the conduction of further research to examine if at al this is a technique that is a helpful alternative for students with learning disabilities.
Holloway (2001) extensively reviewed a total of five studies that took place within a time span of 10 years (from 1986 and 1996). In this case, these studies sought to weigh the conventional ‘pull-out services’ against the service-delivery models that are full inclusive as well as those models usually integrated at the classroom level with these pull-out instructions. Nevertheless, the conclusion that this author arrived at failed to yield a robust support toward the implementation of full integration practice, in effect giving the impression that there is much that needs to be researched regarding the efficacies of an inclusive classroom environment, with respect to secondary education.
There is much that still needs to be learned on regarding the value that is attached to inclusive classrooms and more so with respect to its implementation at the secondary level of learning. In a study that sought to assess models for inclusion for students with learning disabilities (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006, p. 46) discovered that inclusive programs may not after all be successful for every single student with a learning disability. Modupe (2005, p. 11) has also echoed similar sentiments.
According to the authors, students with severe forms of learning disabilities were found to have been afflicted with severe forms of learning disabilities nevertheless managed to make commendable progress in both math resource and reading, in a manner that was comparable to their counterparts that were without any learning disabilities. Those students found to have learning disabilities of the mild nature had a higher likelihood of attaining progress that was in proportion to their peers that were without a disability, if an inclusive education environment was implemented.
Inclusion learning proponents are of the opinion that inclusive practices tend to enhance the achievements made by students a learning disability. Consequently, a number of researchers (for example,) have arrived at a conclusion that when a child possess mild learning disabilities attends lessons in a general education setting, there is a high chance that the academic progress that such a child is capable of registering could be compared favourably to the achievements made by those students placed under ‘pull-out’ classes (Modupe, 2005, p. 11).
Furthermore, research studies indicate that when students receive an education in an environment for general education, there is the likelihood that students without any learning disabilities as well as their counterparts with learning disabilities, may end up attaining high levels of academic achievements (Peterson & Hittie, 2003, p. 37). Therefore, a critical exploration of research evidence advocating for a specific service delivery in favor of another needs further review. Over the last couple of years, we have witnessed an implementation exercise of a multitude of educational programs. In a majority of the cases, such educational programs fail to provide solid data to suggest if at all they have managed to attain success.
Education reforms on the integration of education research and technology dates as far back as 1984. These reforms are aimed at authenticating instructional modes. The ‘No Child Left Behind’ educational policy that former president George W. Bush popularized managed to advocate for educational programs today seen as effective, via the application of engaging scientific research. On the other hand, research, which can be regarded as being “scientifically-based” by and large takes into account just a very small part of the research that the education sector has accomplished (Elliot, 2008, p. 16). Such kind of a research typically calls for large sample sizes, in addition to the application of control groups.
Preservice teachers and mainstreaming: what are their experiences and attitudes?
In 2002, two scholars, Ivey and Reinke, undertook a research study with the intention of examining the experiences and attitudes that a group of preservice teachers on mainstreaming. The study examined the experiences and attitudes of these preservice teachers prior to their taking part in an outdoor program that practiced mainstreaming. Further, the researchers also sought to examine their experiences and attitudes of the respondents once this had completed the program. It emerged from this survey that a majority of the preservice teachers who took part in the study had little or no experience on teaching special education students. Further, the scholars noted that due to the inexperience of the preservice teachers regarding working with students with special education needs, a majority of them exhibited signs of apprehension and anxiety. Following a period of attending to disabled students, the concerned of these preservice teachers were seen to reduce.
On the other hand, the levels of confidence of these preservice teachers improved. A qualitative study that was undertaken in 2004 by Kamens and Casale-Giannola concentrated on the responsibility of student teachers, their impact on their students as well as the consequences of their experiences in terms of the inclusion exercise, with respect to teacher education programs. Kamens and Casale-Giannola sought to examine the experiences that characterize special education as well as general education teachers at the preservice level, as they embarked on the role of coming face to face with the fact that teachers are required to change their roles when an inclusive program is executed. Accordingly, these researchers discovered that when student teachers are accorded opportunities to practice co-teaching and experience first-hand the roles played by both the special as well as the general education teachers, the result is that the confidence of these preservice student teachers was seen to increase. This was with regard to the inclusive practice. Kamens and colleagues (2003) made use of the ATDP scale (Attitudes Toward Disabled Persons) and a demographic survey as research tools of examining the attitudes held by preservice educators on the issue of students with disabilities. The study carried out by Kamens and colleagues showed that educators harbor negative attitudes toward students with learning disabilities.
Hartley and Whitehead (2006, p. 18) examined the impact of classroom experiences of teachers with respect to their perceived capability to accommodate students with disabilities into the classroom setting meant for the general education system. The authors conducted their survey before the preservice teachers had conducted their first lesson after completing college, and later on, some there years after they had resumed teaching.
According to the results of this particular study, 87% of teachers interviewed confirmed that in the classes that they taught, the inclusion practice was quite acceptable. The revelations of this study indicated that the views and perceptions of teachers regarding the likelihood that students with special needs could be introduced, provided that preservice teachers were exposed to sufficient courses in introductory education. This would enable the teachers to integrate well in the education system that otherwise caters for regular students. As a result, their views could be expected to hold steady because of the experiences that they are bound to gain as time goes by (Hartley & Whitehead, 2006, p. 22).
Leong and Kooi (2004, p. 14) explored the application of an inclusion model, in addition to Web-enhanced instruction that was meant to educate some 40 preservice teachers on how to familiarize themselves on inclusive instructions as a way of helping them to accommodate students with special needs. In this case, the students with special needs were also characterized by limited English proficiency. This particular study recognized that the response by this particular field concerning teachers currently experiencing issues to do with inclusion enabled the application of real-life case. This was in addition to the provision of mentoring responses from the Web from actual case student of teacher. Kauffman, McGee, and Brigham (2004, p. 619) explored a total of 10 preservice teachers undertaking their studies at an Australian university, in addition to their development as concerns the attitudes that they harbored toward disabled students.
Journals, in addition to semi-structured interviews showed that those student teachers were increasing their positive attitudes regarding the issue of including students with disabilities in the general class setting. Furthermore, the study also confirmed that the student teachers were reportedly becoming increasingly comfortable with the whole arrangement of inclusion, following a period of interaction with their assigned teaching assistant, who was coincidentally physically disabled (Kauffman et al, 2004, p. 21). Accordingly, this learning experience to the student teachers served to enhance their knowledge as concerns student with special needs.
Bursztyn (2008, p. 72) has established a statistically significant correlation on the issue of the variation in terms of beliefs on preparation in readiness for implementing the inclusion practice. In this case, Bursztyn (2008, p. 72) was concerned more about the point of learning at which the student teachers were, with respect to their training program. According to Bursztyn, it was the presumption of preservice teachers that the programs that they received as a way of preparing them to handle students with disability adequately were very helpful to them. On the other hand, the in-service teachers had already taught in the regular classrooms were not of the opinion that they had not received the best training. Ockjean, Utke, and Hupp (2005, p. 105) carried out a research study whose findings showed that teachers usually report fear, frustration as well as inadequacies regarding the issue of inclusion practices, at the classroom level. On the other hand, these authors have also indicated that just one course had the potential to change the attitudes of preservice teachers concerning the issue of mildly disabled children within the setting of general education classroom.
Margaret Jackson carried out a research study in 2007 with the aim of assessing the relationship that exist between the attitudes and self-efficacy of the general education teachers at the secondary level. Jackson examined the experiences of special educations teachers in handling students with learning disabilities within an inclusive learning environment. Accordingly, this author employed the use of an online survey, to help her gather the necessary data on the study’s subjects.
Telephone interviews were also used by these researchers with the aim of assisting in the collection of data. Accordingly, the researcher revealed the attitudes of the respondents concerning inclusion, in this case the secondary school teachers, by using their telephone interview results. Upon the completion of the study, the researchers discovered that the respondents to this survey had negative as well as positive attitudes toward mainstreaming programs. Moreover, it also emerged from the study that there was a variation with regard to the different attitudes by the secondary school teachers on whether or not the classroom setting for general education students needs to be modify to accommodate the students with special education needs. Female respondents to the research study that Jackson carried out depicted female respondents as undecided on the issue of if they possessed adequate training that would enable them offer learning assistance to students with disabilities, within the setting of an inclusive classroom.
Regarding the issue efficacy, training, and making of adoptions, female teachers were seen to have a higher level of confidence when it came to the issue of teaching students with disabilities within the setting of a regular classroom, when compared with their male peers (Barco, 2007, p. 4). According to the research findings of the survey from telephone interviews, the conclusion that this author arrived at indicated that inclusion could be seen as quite a success for a number of students with disabilities and not others.
Consequently, the author opines that there are flaws and benefits on simply the issue of inclusion. However, the attitude of teachers in a classroom setting impacts on the success of inclusion greatly. Furthermore, this study concluded that there is a correlation between the attitudes of teachers on the one hand, and their self efficacy, on the other hand, as they connect with the education of students with disabilities within the setting of an inclusive learning environment (Barco, 2007).
How prepared are teachers to inclusion?
Over the past 15 years, a lot of research has gone into examining how efficient the teacher education programs are in terms of ensuring that teachers are prepared to undertake their duties in different classrooms. The reasoning behind this is that research studies that have been carried out to assess the attitude of teachers on the issue of inclusion have revealed a certain level of dissatisfaction by the teachers, regarding the kind of preservice training that they have received, toward fulfilling the educational requirements of special education needs. Such revelations are significant since evidence also exists to support the claim that there is a relationship between the level of perception of teachers on inclusion and how prepared they are to embrace inclusion, in addition to the attitudes that such teachers harbor toward inclusion This deviation is regarded a ‘pedagogical shift’ (Sharma, Forlin, Loreman, & Earle, 2006, p. 80), and it has been regarded a source of new demands for teachers in the inclusive education program. The anticipation is that the training programs for preservice general education teachers shall inculcate positive attitudes to these teachers regarding special needs students and the whole issue of inclusion, in addition to supplying them with the necessary skills and knowledge to enable them work in diverse classroom settings. Studies in the area of inclusion have emphasized on several areas, and many of these studies have endeavored to examine the attitudes held by preservice teachers concerning the issue of inclusion, along with attitudes toward students with disabilities, and how they would impact on a general education classroom setting (Sharma et al., 2006; Lambe and Bones, 2006a; Lambe and Bones, 2006b). A majority of these research studies have used quantitative techniques, in addition to the application of questionnaires and surveys.
A variation in these research studies has been noted with respect to the terminology and language employed, in addition to instruments, research questions, procedures of sampling, and analysis. Despite the fact that such individual characteristics as cultural; background and gender have been seen to impact on the attitudes of preservice teachers, nevertheless, it looks like contextual factors (for example, inclusive practice and policy, existing social attitudes regarding disability), training as well as interactions with disabled individuals could be the principle elements that impacts on attitude. Nonetheless, the real manner in which these elements interact in giving shape to the attitudes of preservice teachers from diverse perspectives are yet to be exhaustively examined, according to Sharma and colleagues (2006). With regard to the issue of preparedness, Lambe, and Bones (2006a) contend that the concerns raised by preservice teachers bear to a correlation to ‘personal adequacy and prejudices regarding inclusion’ (p. 521). Out of the 108 respondents that successfully participated in this study prior to the start of an inclusive education elective unit, more than half of them (52.2 percent) concurred with a statement that the interviewer had included in the questionnaire to the effect that ‘it is impossible to try to accommodate too many differences in one classroom’. A further 57.4 % revealed that they lacked adequate skills to enable them undertaking their teaching work in an education setting that supported inclusive learning.
Several studies have argued on the various approaches of ensuring that preservice teachers are prepared effectively to handle the inclusion program. Accordingly, many have realized that the ‘embedded’ or ‘permeation’ model that constitutes the incorporation of inclusion in the various study units, in addition to specialized and separate units for special needs students are lacking and this may prove to be a challenge in terms of the application of an inclusive program. It may be a challenge to effectively implement an inclusive education program, both in terms of evaluation and researching. A different ‘middle-ground’ perspective occurs at a time when well-defined and specific activities to accompany education training on inclusion integrated within a subject in a general education setting (Golder, Norwich, & Bayliss, 2005; Pearson, 2007).
On the other hand, the existing model that is available within literature has to do with elective or mandatory subject on either special or special education (Lancaster & 2007; Lambe, 2007). The exploration of various innovative perspectives in the available literature attempts to guarantee the preservice teachers an enhanced opportunity so that they may assess their attitudes. For instance, Forlin, and Hopewell (2006) have sought to apply the version of a mother to a child with disability, in effect meaning that they are in need of high level of support. This acts as reflective incentive. A total of three diverse student groups of students taking part in an educational program involving a common subject, and which took part in seven weeks, has been reported by these authors. Further, these various groups of students were also involved in a program that entails differentiated subject. In this case, one group was exposed to a student mentoring experience with an instructor on one-on-one basis. The students in question were viewed as being vulnerable to underachievement. The other second group was exposed to support experiences at an inclusive classroom setting, while the third group was allowed to go on with the familiar institution-based program.
Even as the first and the second groups recorded increased gains with respect to self-efficacy, nevertheless, the research findings for this study revealed that the group was exposed to a mentoring experience had attained the highest level of success. However, there is a need to put in mind that the observed variation amongst these three diverse groups was not quite significant, from a statistical point of view. These revelations indicate that by and large, a positive change with regard to attitudes is evident prior to and after students have undergone through special/inclusive education. Similar sentiments have also been echoed by authors from diverse nations and educational settings (Ching, Forlin, & Mei Lan, 2007; Kyriakou, Avramidis, Høie, Stephens, and Hultgren, 2007).
Research studies that have sought to examine the issue of inclusion in the past indicates that teachers have had the chance to interact with disability students, preservice student teachers as well as their experienced counterparts, harbor an opinion that it is important to include in the preservice coursework, opportunities that if implemented, would ensure that teachers are comfortable when working with students with special education needs. Teachers with have an inclusionary education and experience for students with disabilities have been seen to exhibit high levels of confidence as they endeavor to fulfill the various demands for learners (Klavina & Block, 2007).
A study that conducted by Ammah and Hodge (2005) revealed that oftentimes, teachers are less inclined to believe they could be suitably prepared to face the different complexities that comes with inclusion. Even as this particular study endeavored to assess the attitudes held by physical education teachers at the in-service level of teaching regarding the issue of inclusion, the study also recognized the teachers’ pre-service period as constituting a very important period in which teachers are in a position to shape in a positive way their attitudes concerning inclusion.
Separately, Elliot (2008) has discovered that the opportunities that in-service teachers have encounter during this period of their teaching carrier acts to enhance their attitude on inclusion. When the education programs that teachers are exposed to increase, the intention is to improve the acceptance and confidence of such teachers at the classroom setting, this may act to dispel any forms of misconceptions that we could be harboring about the way in which inclusion works. When the educational curriculum of teachers includes ways and means of modifying the current curricula on general education, this could acts as an efficient means of establishing a learning environment that is not only supportive, but which, also can be accessed by all teachers and students from diverse educational backgrounds (Elliot, 2008; Ammah & Hodge, 2005).
Accordingly, the onus is now on the educators to ensure that that student with special learning needs receives an effective education in an appropriate and fair manner. Understanding and identifying the educational needs of a student with a disability is very critical concerning the issue of designing an educational program that is appropriate, in addition to ensuring that they receive the behavioral and emotional support that they need.
Teacher-gender difference and inclusion
Quite a number of studies in literature that have examined the attitudinal variations between on the one hand, female teachers and, on the other hand their male counterparts. These studies are concerned more with examining gender variations as one of the variables impacting on teachers’ positive attitudes. Ammah and Hodge (2005) completed a study whose aim was to examine two physical education teachers, both of whom were male. These two male teachers came from school districts that were dissimilar. Furthermore, the two teachers had between them over 10 years experience in teaching. Both of these male teachers exhibited attitudes that wee both favorable and unfavorable, in as far as the issue of inclusion is concerned.
The favorable attitudes that these male teachers exhibited indicated positive experiences at the classroom setting, if not interaction, which has resulted in an increase in confidence amongst these teachers, albeit short-term. This was in as far as their capability to offer an education to special needs students was concerned (Ockjean et al, 2005). On the other hand, those attitudes that the authors deemed as less favorable, exhibited by the two male teachers under investigation, depicted the teachers’ skepticisms concerning their limited formal training. In addition, it was also a reflection of the fact that the teachers were quite skeptical about their ability to meet the one-on-one demanding schedule that is characteristic of teaching special education children. This is in addition to practical effects that the overcrowded classes could have on students with disabilities.
By researching on the attitudes of pre-service teachers regarding the issue of disabled children, Rice (2006) discovered that the individual teacher attitudes differed significantly, on the basis of experiences and gender. This author discovered that female teachers who had previously worked with students with special needs demonstrated additional favorable attitudes, relative to teachers who lacked experience The author found this revelation to be more profound with respect to male teachers who either had or lacked experience.
Examination of Attitudes and Perceptions of teachers
When a teacher is in a position to visualize and acknowledges the effect of their perceptions and attitudes on the issue of inclusion, such a teacher shall be best placed to gain an insight working with as well as assisting special needs students, in effect establishing an educational environment that is supportive to them. A number of barriers are encountered while trying to implement a mainstreaming/inclusion program. These entails beliefs, changing attitudes, teachers’ perceptions regarding the ability of all students (whether or not they have disabilities) to attain high education standards, even as they could have wide varying differences (Ammah & Hodge, 2005).
A number of teachers reportedly have to grapple with the inclusion idea, harboring the feeling that special need students could result in a slowdown with respect to the level of progress that the regular students have been making thus far, in effect ensuring that the activity of conducting a lesson becomes quite difficult (Leatherman, 2007). Such a fundamental change with regard to attitude becomes very vital, if at all the concept of inclusion is out become successful, and from the point of view of the students with special education needs.
Lancaster and Bain (2007) have explored the attitudes to inclusion by general education teachers. The authors arrived at a conclusion that any form of deviation in terms of the attitudes of teachers toward diverse forms of disabilities are endorsed by the perception of a teacher regarding extra instructions that may be issued. This is in addition to management skills at the classroom level necessary for purposes of ensuring that students with disabilities are accommodated adequately.
The research by Forlin and Hopewell (2006) emphasized on the attitudes of teachers on the issue of mainstreaming, with the revelation that teachers were a bit anxious regarding the idea of students with special needs mainstreamed to the general education classroom, to learning together with their counterparts without disabilities. In this case, the levels of anxiety by the teachers appeared to increase when the students in question had either a physical handicap or were retarded mentally, as opposed to those students who had behavioral disorders, or even learning disabilities.
The attitude of teachers remains as the leading variable with the most influence in as far as the attainment of a successful mainstreaming initiative is concerned, according to Forlin and Hopewell (2006). The attitudes and perceptions of a teacher regarding inclusion shall impact on the classroom environment, grudgingly positioning a handicap on students’ success.
The role of inclusion support services
A difference has been observed by researchers in education regarding inclusive school programs, in terms of the nature and amount of support that teachers in the general education classroom setting can receive. This kind of support varies from one district to the other. In addition, such a variation encompasses not just the definition, but the implementation exercise as well (Leatherman, 2007). Even as it is quite possible to use the benefits that emanates from the prevision of the support of this kind with a view to fulfilling the needs of disabled students from an academic point of view, nevertheless, it is important to note that just a limited number of educators have access to the necessary support to enable them assist students with special needs attain academic success.
If at all the inclusion program is to be successful, special services providers and administrators alike require offering their support to this initiative. This is by way of availing extra assistance and resources at the classroom level so that the students may benefit from informational resources, thanks to courses in professional development, in addition to in-service experiences, with a view to altering the attitudes of teachers (Leatherman, 2007).
A collaboration of special education teachers and their general education peers at a professional level is very crucial in ensuring that the inclusionary program is a success (Leatherman, 2007). Kyriakou and colleagues (2007) have also reiterated the position held by Leatherman. The study that these authors undertook involved an assessment of the attitudes held by general education teachers and their special education counterparts on inclusion. In this case, these teachers were examined from a team of workers as a way of ensuring that students with disabilities had their educational needs well taken care of. The organizational setting of the educational system, knowledge dissemination and the attitudes of teachers are some of the leading barriers identified as necessary for the attainment of a successful inclusion initiative.
Studies that have sought to focus on attitudinal barriers reveals that in principle, teachers are in agreement with the established objectives of the inclusion program, although a majority of them have a feeling that they are not fully prepared to undertake their duties within the setting of an inclusive learning environment (Klavina, Block & Larins, 2007; Elliott, 2008; Leatherman, 2007).
The diverse approaches of teachers to teaching at the classroom level affect the organisatinal barriers of an education setting. This is in addition to the issue of the support services to these classrooms, and the manner in which they are managed. With respect to knowledge barriers, it is important to note that general educators are usually skeptical in terms of their training to handle special needs students.
Co-teaching is a term that is used to refer to the model of teaching that has found application in that education program that integrates students with learning disabilities with their counterparts that do not have learning disabilities. Elliot (2008), defines co-teaching as “an educational approach in which general and special educators work in a co-active and coordinated fashion to jointly teach heterogeneous groups of students in educationally integrated settings” (p. 18). In co-teaching, there is collaboration amongst teachers with regard to the planning of teaching instructions, the assessment of the progress of students, parental communication, and also enhancing the interaction of students within a group set up.
Co-teaching describes the act of two (in not more), experienced or beginning teachers, working in partnership to provide education to students, in addition to the need by the teachers to contemplate learning and teaching (Gallo-Fox, Scantlebury, Wassell, Juck, & Gleason, 2005; Tobin, 2005). Co-teaching hinges upon ‘the K-12 student learning’ assist the process of learning by student intern with respect to teaching, planning as well as reflection. Furthermore, co-teaching aims at ensuring that practicing teachers attain professional development. Gallo-Fox and colleagues (205, p. 3) opine that co-teaching focuses on reflection, responsibility, collaborative planning, respect as well as teaching.
Tobin (2005) looks at co-teaching as that time when a student intern and a teacher plans, executes a lesson jointly. In this case, the student intern or even the teachers could assume a leading role, while the other assumes the role of a support teacher. Further, Tobin (2005) advocates for the application of co-generative dialogs. The reason for this is with the intention of improving the process of learning as the co-teaching project is being executed. In this case, a co-generative dialogue entails a teacher and the student intern taking part in conversations regarding their shared teaching and planning experiences. Such conversations are important, for they enable a deeper assessment of the process of teaching, an enhanced recognition of practice of a teacher or a student intern, in addition to a recognition of potential changes, which requires being implemented for improving the learning process of students as well as the environment of learning (Tobin, 2005, p. 5).
As the need arises to ensure that the practice of teaching education is of sound quality, many schools have been seen to embrace in a big way reconstruction efforts that have to do with a change in terms of the pattern of rules of such schools, results, and relationships. Co-teaching, also known as teacher collaboration, has emerged as one of the mechanisms that could promote enhanced classroom instruction following the practice of responsibility sharing by teachers, in addition to the development of better teaching methods via this relationship that is quite interactive (Tobin, 2005).
Team teaching consists of diverse arrangements. One of the specific form of team teaching, and which has in recent years gained massive popularity, entails two teachers at a classroom setting, teaching concurrently. At –one- time, team teaching was by and large implemented to students with special learning needs, but who were being accommodated within the regular classroom setting. Lancaster and Bain (2007) argue that teachers had no problem embracing mainstreaming as a learning concept, and in particular when they obtained sufficient support. This partnership or support entails consulting models or the idea of forming learning teams with a view to solving learning problems; assist in the diverse students to understand differentiated learning, and also to provide added support to teachers, with respect to the learning process.
In view of this setting, a specific model of team teaching should be developed from a much bigger project, regarding the size of the class. According to Precup and colleagues (2006), the teaming of teachers was done in such a way to ensure that the teacher to students’ ratio was one to 15. The rise in interest regarding team teaching, coupled with the practicing of diverse teaching approaches, is verifiable by the increasing number of articles and textbooks within the available literature of team teaching, most of which offers procedures necessary for the implementations and the development of the team teaching partnership (Precup et al, 2006). Such a positive inclination shows that professional from diverse education fields are in a working relationship, as opposed to a case of isolated settings, with the intention of offering assistance to those students who could be on the brink of academic failure.
These relations are thought to increase professional skills by allowing them to gain knowledge from each other (Precup et al, 2006). Sadly, a majority of the teachers meant to engage in team teaching undertake this project received little if any, training regarding the way in which they were supposed to implement team teaching. Chuang and Nakatani (2005) argue that such a limitation with regard to training may bring about friction unsuccessful teacher on the one hand, and team teachers, on the other hand. In the same way, Tobin (2005) opine that sadly, the execution of the practice of team teaching has hitherto remains quite haphazard, in addition to the fact that its objectives have not been fully clarified.
The campaigners for co-teaching are convinced of an educational technique that could prove quite effective in addressing the different educational requirements of students with special learning needs. The argument here is that thanks to co-teaching, there is a drastic reduction in terms of the ratio of the students to that of teachers. As a result, there is a corresponding increase in the amount of time dedicated to giving instructions to the students with special learning needs by the teachers. Consequently, it is possible to ensure the improvement of an inclusive education program, both in terms of intensity and continuity.
Given that students do not experience a loss in terms of the time taken to move from one class to the next, students are therefore in a position to obtain additional instructions, in effect enjoying more systematic engagement in their activities at the classroom setting (Precup et al, 2006).
Even as students with learning disabilities seek extra support from their teachers at a classroom setting meant for the general education system, there is also the possibility that such support could also reduce the stigma normally attached to these students because the students with special learning needs are now bet placed to
Participate in the learning activities just like their counterparts without any learning disabilities. Consequently, student with special education needs ends up felling part of the school community. Gallo-Fox and colleagues (2005) has discovered that this results in “stronger support systems, family-like feelings, and a sense of community”.
On the other hand, note that two teachers are also capable of adapting and modifying study lessons, on a need-basis, in addition to the fact that they are also able to combine their diverse strengths in teaching, working in a partnership with the aim of ensuring that all the children can benefit, regardless of their learning disabilities, or lack of. In team teaching, there are several aspects that have been noted to be quite common from one learning institution to the other. These include relationships negotiations, giving students the most suitable curricula with the correct pedagogy integration, and stressing more on the build-up of increased knowledge of the students.
According to Palmer and Kotch (2007), the entire efforts of team teaching “include two or more faculty in some level of collaboration in the planning and delivery of a course.” A message that is quite inherent in the aforementioned statement is the requirement by collaborators to lay emphasis on the existing relationship amongst them. It is important to ensure teachers attend to the relationships of the students openly. A requirement is that team teaching assists co-teachers to share both the responsibilities that have been allocated to them, and also the powers that come with such responsibilities. This is beneficial not just to ensure that co-teaching is a success, but also with the intention of benefiting the students as well.
Marn-Ling and others (2007) have explored a total of four power and relationship dimensions. Further, the authors opine that at a time when faculty reaches an agreement on embracing team teaching, they take into account the levels of collaboration in such areas as student-faculty interaction, curricular integration, faculty autonomy, and student engagement. Additionally, there exist diverse models regarding team teaching. This is in addition to the fact that a majority of the teams share diverse methods of operation. For example, Nevin, and colleagues (2008) have recognized four kinds of teams rooted in working styles variations. These include co-teaching, parallel teaching, co-facilitation, and serial teaching.
With respect to these perspectives, we tend to have a restrained focus on the control that a teacher exercises on these methods, and usually such a control ends up distorting the vital association between on the one hand, learning and, on the other hand, teaching. Seeing that team teaching focuses on the negotiation of the association and power sharing between students and their teachers, it therefore permits classroom learning reforms to take place. Also, teaching reinforces the designing of an integrated curriculum, collaborative learning as well as a pedagogy that is also collaborative (Moreillon, 2007). With respect to curriculum, various perspectives and usually diverse disciplinary points of view brought to the fore by teaching partners helps to further shed light on the comprehension of knowledge by students.
Moreover, the observation has been that both multicultural and multidisciplinary teaching teams enjoy a successful mainstreaming program because of their potential to become good role models. With respect to the curriculum, there could be different points of views regarding how inclusive teams could be (Moreillon, 2007). If we were to examine the pedagogical perspective on team teaching, the mainstreaming programs is improved by such methods as active learning of the students, permits team teaching, encouraging online activities in the learning system, encouraging independent studies of the students, and creative expression. At the same time it is important to ensure that the diverse learning styles of the students, along with their needs, are taken into account.
Another fundamental aspect that is unique to team teaching is a constant knowledge construction by both students and teachers. Collaborative pedagogy, along with team teaching, increases the likelihood that students may be in a position to envision themselves as well as their colleagues, as potential knowledge constructors. Accordingly, Chuang, and Nakatani (2005) opines that in order for collaborative pedagogy to attain success, this will be dependent upon the level to which team members are in a position to practice it with effectiveness.
Implementing the co-teaching program
Fullan (2001) reveals that in order that a reform may gain success, there is a need to ensure that it has amassed enough support from principle and central administrators. Further, it is important to ensure that teachers possess a commitment to embrace the change, in addition to a good working relationship. In this regard, when a model for co-teaching is being implemented, these elements are also crucial. Forlin and Hopewell (2006) opines that in order that the co-teaching model may be implemented with success, the long-term vision needs to be communicated to all involved. In addition, the expectations of the outcome needs to be clear as well as having in place a system for monitoring the progress of the implementation program, within a classroom setting.
The application of co-teaching within the context of mainstreaming has especially been informed by the judgment that students with disabilities were found to have an academic potential similar to that of their peers without any disabilities. Such students are reported to be “cognitively within normal ranges and are thought to be able to compete at approximately their age and grade level” (Forlin & Hopewell, 2006). Collaborative teaching is usually regarded as a “keep-in”, as opposed to a “pullout” service delivery model. In addition, collaborative teaching may also be regarded as a radical departure from the past”.
The arrangement of collaborative teaching is that special educators have an opportunity to integrate with their counterparts in the general education classrooms, in effect establishing a co-teaching arrangement. In this case, teachers’ expertise is seen as an element that is adds value to the learning experience of students with learning disabilities. For the general educators, they share their levels of expertise in the various phases of the curriculum, large-group instruction, and effective teaching, while their counterparts from the special education department provides knowledge in terms of strategies and styles of learning, behavioral management, and clinical teaching (Precup et al, 2006). By and by, the expertise that the teachers are in possession of turns out coincidental.
Collaborative teaching may have gained immense popularity, but it is also important to note that a limited number of academicians and scholars alike have sought to undertake studies to assess its effectiveness. Available literature on co-teaching abounds with information regarding the various ways in which the implementation of a teaching system that is collaborative, may be implemented (Chuang & Nakatani, 2005), in addition to the establishment of collaborative relationships, effective communication as well as the embracing of collaborative teaching, in line with diverse instructional needs.
Available data indicates academic viability, with a majority of the students with learning disability attaining tremendous academic gains (Lancaster & Bain, 2007), enhanced self-esteem, lowered social stigma for the students who involved in the collaborative arrangement, in additional to parents who are satisfied in general, with the model of collaborative teaching. Moreover, Leong, and Kooi (2004) has reported of potential benefits of implementing collaborative teaching program, such as the increased satisfaction of teachers, personal and professional growth, and enhanced peer relationships and academic performance.
Elliot (2008) discovered that teachers, administrators, students, and parents appeared quite enthusiastic regarding the implementation of the model of collaborative teaching. Furthermore, this group of individuals was also seen to view successful positive effects and academic outcomes on behavior management and self-esteem. Even as collaborative teaching may be seen as ‘a workable model’ to implement as a teaching program for students who are have learning disabilities, nevertheless; it is important noting that very little investigation has been done to explore possible ways of enhancing the already existing practices and systems.
Several barriers and challenges impact on the successful implementation of collaborative teaching. However, there are several studies that have been carried out to revel more of these barriers and challenges. Salisbury University Professional development Schools Program (2007) explored some of these barriers and challenges. They include scheduling, time planning, and administrative support, caseloads, and staff development. According to the Equality strategy for Scottish Government (2000), mainstreaming is “the systematic integration of an equality perspective… [which] tackles structures, behaviors and attitudes that contribute to or sustain inequality and discrimination” (200, p. 1). Boling (2007) has provided the requirements for mainstreaming to take place. To start with, it is important that the implementing team fully comprehends that inequalities exist in our midst, not just with regard to institutions of learning. Second, there is a need to appreciate the fact that all learners need to be accorded respect and value; whether or not they have learning disabilities.
Spandagou, Evans, and Little (2008) undertook a research project titled, “Primary education preservice teachers’ attitudes on inclusion and perceptions on preparedness to respond to classroom diversity.” The objective for this particular research study was to assess the PBL (Problem Based Learning) framework of teaching, which was being implemented in two compulsory inclusive and special education study units. The study was carried out within the setting of a large university. Several sources were applied to facilitate in data collection, and this entailed formal evaluations, attitudinal survey, and focus groups. All these had students as their respondents. As a result, the raw data for the study was collected form students in an inclusive learning environment. In addition, the teaching team in the inclusive learning institution was also evaluated by the researchers of this survey. Accordingly, the survey by Spandagou and colleagues (2008) sought to explore the attitudes of preservice teachers on the issue of inclusion, in addition to their level of preparedness in terms of classroom diversity. This particular case study has enabled the authors to provide contextual information regarding the school in question, the class, the teachers, in addition to the school environment, in affect overcoming a ‘deficit’ or individualized approach concerning the issue of inclusion. This case study is symbolic of schools from diverse sectors such as catholic, government as well as the independents. Further, the case study has also explored the issue of diversity with respect to age, gender, experience, cultural; background, attitudes and knowledge, as these are manifested by the teachers who were respondents to this case study.
According to the research findings of this study, it emerged that PBL, as a framework for teaching has proved to be quite successful, in as far as the influencing of the perceptions and attitudes that preservice teachers’ holds is concerned. This is in addition to preparing them in a positive way to embrace inclusion. In this case, a positive and strong change with respect to the preparedness and perception of the preservice teachers signifies an increase in the positive attitudes of preservice teachers toward the inclusion concept may not be entirely attributed to special/inclusive education training. Instead, Spandagou (2008) attributes such a positive change to PBL particular elements of the teachers training framework. Based on such a perspective, one may harbor an argument that when students are exposed to collaborative work, in addition to case studies, such students have the chance to integrate and contextualize their learning with respect to diverse subject elements (for example, tutorials, lectures, in-school assessment and experience as well as readings).
Moreillon has written an article whose intention was to examine the level to which those children characterized by disabilities in their learning process, relative to their peers without any handicap, finds acceptance to their peers. Additionally, these authors have also explored factors contributing to the level to which students with no learning disabilities accepts their peers. According to Moreillon (2008), “The social status and acceptance of mainstreamed children with learning difficulties in different national school systems consistently have been found to be low.” On the other hand, this study has also offered an explanation on the way in which particular environmental and specific variables verifies the categorization of a student as “popular, rejected, neglected, controversial, and average” (Moreillon, 2008).
By the application of diverse techniques, these authors have succeeded in grouping students into diverse rankings on the basis of their socio-metric statuses. Additionally, the authors have further sought to determine the level to which these students can interact with their counterparts, in terms of their levels of involvement when working or playing together. According to the research findings of this particular study, “that both personal and environmental factors are important in understanding the sociometric status of mainstreamed children with learning difficulties” (Moreillon, 2008).
Separately, Boling (2007) sought to explore the existing variations in terms of social adjustments between on the one hand, those children who have disabilities and, on the other hand , their peers without any form of disability. According to the authors, the results of this study revealed that the differences between the two groups who were the center of this research were not statistically diverse from each other. As per the findings of this study, girls characterized by learning disabilities ranked as ‘least preferred’.
By and large, the teachers “perceived the socially adjusted children with learning disabilities to be less socially and academically competent than adjusted children with learning disabilities” (Moreillon, 2007). Although implementing a mainstreaming exercise has many benefits, nonetheless, there is a need to put in mind that the implementation of this concept is not an easy process, and more so in as far as the children are concerned. In his study, Schmoker required the respondents (in this case, elementary school teachers) to review the tapes of students who had had mild retardation (Schmoker (2006). In this case, the tapes showed these students portraying their ability level and conversation skills. The study researchers revealed that the responses of the students with respect to the videotapes bore a positive correlation with the ability of a child with mild retardation to display their skills in conversation (Schmoker, 2006). In this regard, those children who had the capability to master skills of conversation in a manner similar to that exhibited by their peers of the same age were perceived by the study’s respondents in a more positive way, as opposed to those students who were not in a position to portray similar conversation skills. This was an indication of the manner in which students in elementary school respond to mainstreamed students who are mildly retarded. This would be a testimony to the fact that the perceptions of students on inclusive learning depends on their level of language comprehension. In the same way, Haider (2008) explored the impact that labeling students with learning disabilities has on their relationship and self-concept regarding students without any learning disability. Haider reports that through the application of various techniques, “findings suggest that learning disability students’ self-perceptions are not negatively affected by academic and social difficulties in the early grades or by the identification and labeling process.” (Haider, 2008). Differences emerged between, on the one hand, the low achieving group and on the other hand, the high achieving group, relative to the group with learning disabilities. The implication here in this case is that when “achievement is controlled, there are few differences between learning disabled and non–learning disabled students on peer acceptance” (Haider, 2008).
The purpose of this research study is to explore the experiences that teachers in Manhattan Day School, a junior high school that embraces Jewish teachings, in as far as the implementation of a mainstreaming program at the learning institution is concerned. Specifically, this study shall lay more emphasis on the experiences of the special education teachers in Judaic studies, as they endeavor to implement the implement a mainstreaming program at the institution. In addition, the study also wishes to determine the elements of the mainstreaming curriculum that the special education teachers believe are the most advantageous. In this regard, a qualitative research design shall be adopted by the study, to assess of the special education teachers in Judaic studies at Manhattan day school.
Further, this chapter shall consider the process employed in selecting the subjects that will take part in the study. Moreover, a consideration of data collection procedure for the study will be accomplished, in addition to the analysis of this data. To facilitate in the gathering of the required information, this research study has deemed it appropriate to make use of semi-structured interviews as the primary data collection tool of choice. The analysis f the data collection shall be accomplished by use of the grounded theory.
Ultimately, the chapter shall consider those limitations that are applicable to the method that this research study has adopted.
Creswell (2008) refers to a research design as that framework that assists in the collection of data for a research study, with the intention of yielding logical and appropriate findings of the study in question. A research design, Creswell contends, should produce the desirable results with accuracy, so that the research hypothesis under scrutiny may be reasonably and adequately rested. Separately, Maxwell (2005) opines that it is possible to categorize qualitative research as a detailed and in-depth assessment of a limited group of cases that principally relies on subjective observational techniques (Brace 2008). Such cases would entail expert review, observation interviews, cognitive interviews as well as supervisor and interviewer debriefings. The aforementioned techniques often find application when a researcher wishes to explore the foundation as well as the application of a certain theory, establish novel theories, come up with of basic existing hypotheses, assess odd cases, or those that borders on distribution, in addition to ‘obtaining information on meaning, affect, and culture’ in effect rendering ‘the facts understandable’ (Brace, 2008). Although there are researchers who believe that the qualitative methods of evaluation are subjective, nevertheless, they still yield useful background information that could otherwise have remained inaccessible.
The reason this researcher has settled for a qualitative research design is with a view to gaining a better insight regarding the experiences of special education teachers in Judaic studies at Manhattan Day School, as they endeavor to implement a mainstreaming program at the said institution. In this case, a qualitative research design would enable the study’s respondents in this case the special education teachers in Judaic studies, to express their views and opinions on the experiences that they have had in implementing a curriculum that caters for both the regular and special education students at the institution in question. Whereas a quantitative research assumes that there is only one external and objective reality, a qualitative design, on the other hand, may suggest that multiple subjective realities can coexist. With regard to epistemological assumptions, a qualitative research usually provides a more detailed and profound analysis of the specific situation.
The openness between the parts is much higher than with quantitative method, which can facilitate the generation and creation of new theories. The participation of both parts is evident and they can discuss problems and explain uncertainties or ambiguities. This level of depth and detail is not achievable in quantitative research if the individual only answers closed questions. Accordingly, a qualitative design is more suitable with open-ended questions. The philosophical background of qualitative methods lays emphasis on the benefits of better understanding the social interactions from an organization context as well as the human behavior meaning. This shall often entail the development of an emphatic understanding grounded on a subjective experience, and also an understanding of the links between behaviors and personal perceptions as the author attempt to do in this research.
Patton (2002, p. 193) is of the opinion that qualitative research usually provides a more detailed and profound analysis of the specific situation. Williamson (2009, p. 205) asserts that due to the appropriate and sensitive application of qualitative research, it has yielded new direction and insights. In this regard, it is the intention of this study to explore new issues on the elements of the implementation of mainstreaming, in effect shedding light to inclusive education. Creswell (2003) notes that a qualitative design assists a researcher to embrace contextual conditions while simultaneously acting as a tool for detecting novel issues, and aiding in the development of empirical evidence theories. Besides, qualitative methodologies tend to have high validity levels, while also preserving data flow in a chronological manner. In any case, qualitative data is rarely vulnerable to retrospective alterations (Creswell, 2003, p. 37).
In addition, the use of qualitative research design helps a research to better comprehend individual as well as group experiences regarding situations, experiences and meanings of themes of a research, prior to the testing and/or development of more explanations and general theories (Frankel & Devers, 2000 p. 18). Another reason that informed the researcher’s decision to adopt a qualitative research study is that qualitative research designs tend to be by and large, flexible and emergent, resulting in a study that is not only engaging and interactive to both the researcher and the subjects, but also one that is quite dynamic. The position of Creswell (2008, p. 297) on qualitative results in a relationship between a researcher and his/her subject advocates for change, in effect adding on to the richness of the potential research findings of a research study. With such a perspective in mind this researcher opted to embrace a qualitative research design for this study.
Justification of Methodology
In the analysis of the data collected from the interviews, the grounded theory development shall focus on the voice centered analysis to sensitize the researcher to the thematic patterns and significant linguistic elements. The purpose of using such a methodology is twofold. Initially, it is to be understood academicians have conducted very little research in any meaningful way for the population under research. The unique values and philosophies of the Orthodox Jewish community may be due to their secluded characteristics. To fully appreciate the motives and messages of the study, a rich and deep explanation of the data is most beneficial. By using thematic analysis of the information gathered from the in-depth interviews, it is possible for a researcher gain further insight into the issue of inclusive learning environment. The second point to be understood is that the Jewish Community is not very large in comparison with the other communities. Accordingly, the population has been studied to a limited extent. On the basis of such facts, the development of a grounded theory for this particular study was the most appropriate study design.
The subjects for this particular research study shall be the special education teachers in Judaic studies at the Manhattan Day School. Situated on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, this school district that is the focus of the study begun in 1943. Manhattan Day School is inclined toward Orthodox Jewish yeshiva. Before commencing on the research study, an app will be needed. Therefore, it is the intention of the researcher to apply for this approval. In addition, the researcher shall also write to the head teacher at Manhattan day School to seek for permission to enable the undertaking of this study. Administrators at Capella University will however have to approve such an application, before any research study can be undertaken.
According to Maxwell (2005, p. 76), good qualitative studies often give solutions to vital and stated questions. On the other hand, it is important to put in mind that the there are many challenges that usually accompanies the process of developing sound research questions. A lack of advance planning for any research study can result in deficient research questions. At a time when the available substantive and theoretical literature doe not sufficiently capture the data that a research study yearns for, a qualitative reach study usually suffice, as an attempt at overcoming potential pitfalls to a research study.
The researcher anticipated a total of 10 special education teachers in Judaic studies shall take part in this survey. Accordingly, these subjects will receive from the researcher the consent forms that shall include amongst others, the names and contacts of the study’s individual respondents. The researcher will also consider additional contacts that can assist in answering the research questions. Also included in the consent form shall be the purpose of the study’s survey. The researcher shall distribute the consent forms into the individual mailboxes of the subjects, at the Manhattan Day School. In addition, the researcher will also contact the respondents to confirm their receipt of the consent forms.
Furthermore, the researcher will advise study respondents to return the completed research questioners within a period of one week upon their receipt. The researcher will distribute study questionnaires to a designated mailbox that adjoins the mailboxes at the school. A survey interview shall assist in data collection. A voice recorder shall also be used and notes taken as the interviewee responds to the questions from the interviewer.
The voice recording will be re-listened to at a later time and analyzed for thematic elements, in effect drawing conclusions from the collection of data. Categories shall be created and their relationship to each other scrutinized and established. Finally, merit and analytical weight shall be assigned and presented in a format that best describes the outcome of the study. The decision to focus on generating categories permits “pendulum motion,” where the focus moves from attention to theory and grounding in the language of the narrative accounts. This would endanger the creation of new research questions as the information creates the semblance of an academic conjecture.
For purposes of data collection, this research study shall employ the use of semi-structured interviews, with respondents as special education teachers in Judaic studies at Manhattan Day School. In this case, open-ended questions will included in the interview, to facilitate the interviewer gather the experiences of the special education teachers in Judaic studies regarding the issue of mainstreaming, as practiced at Manhattan Day School.
According to Patton (2002, p. 65), an interview with a semi-structured format is more flexible when compared with a structured interview, often characterized by limited and formalized sets of questions. In this case, semi-structured interviews enable the interviewer to bring froth to the study new questions as the interview process goes on, on the basis of the responses of the interviewee. Nevertheless, Creswell (2008, p. 85) cautions that when using semi-structured interviews there is a need for the interviewer to have explored the topics informing their questions, well in advance. In this case, the preparations of an interview guide that (Creswell, 2008, p. 195) views as the “grouping of topics and questions that the interviewer can ask in different ways for different participants” (p. 195).
The author contends that interview guide assists researchers to emphasize more on the topics of the interview without the need for them to adopt a specific structure. Accordingly, this researcher study hoped to benefit from this freedom, by enabling the interviewer to develop questions that best suits the context of the respondents.
Coding of raw data in a research study is important. This is with a view to facilitating an easier process of data analysis, through the development of a grounded theory, as adopted by this study.
Data analysis for this particular study shall employ the use of the grounded theory. The intention of the researcher in this case shall be to approach the obtained data devoid of a preconceived framework. Accordingly, tracing the theory supporting this research study becomes an easy task. The development of concepts for this research study enables the researcher to better illuminate the data collected. Following this, the researcher will endeavor to saturate the categories developed using case examples, with the intention of offer support to their significance. Finally, the development of categories formed into an all-purpose framework of analysis, in line with the “extensive inter-related data collection and theoretical analysis” (Strauss & Corbin, 1994, p. 243) will be accomplished.
A number of limitations faced this research study. To start with, the sample size used was small. In addition, the study only sought to include the art language teachers at Manhattan Day School as the respondents. Another limitation to this study is a lack of the completion of validity and reliability measures since the development of the survey was with the intention of informing this study in particular.
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