Schools face two critical issues: the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms and the second being a contributing factor to the success of inclusion, the ability of teachers to meet the needs of a diverse population of students (Rao, 2009). Teachers are often at a loss of how to accommodate students with disabilities in a general classroom. The guiding question for my research is, how do teachers of inclusion classrooms develop their understanding for working with students with disabilities? I hope to survey the adequacy of pre-service training programs in preparation for inclusion classrooms, and perhaps find an explanation for lack of teacher preparation.
The guiding question for my research addresses inclusion classroom teacher preparation. More specifically, how do teachers of inclusion classrooms develop their understanding for working with students with disabilities? Additionally, I am interested in the methodology regarding pre-service teacher programs. What materials are utilized in methods courses for pre-service teachers?
I plan to conduct interviews with current inclusion classroom teachers and educators within pre-service teacher programs. I will focus on primary school teachers as well as pre-service programs focused on primary education. Following this set parameter, I will interview elementary school teachers from several Indiana cities. I considered interviewing teachers outside of Indiana but do not want different state teaching requirements to serve as a confounding variable in my research. As for the other facet of interviews, I plan to speak with professors in pre-service teacher programs. I hope to gather an array of opinions by interviewing professionals across the field, both in training and those in the classroom. Both aspects are important to gathering valid data. I chose to conduct interviews in order to have more control in information gathered. For example, I will be able to ask follow-up questions, follow leads, and gauge body language. In addition to the interviews, I will be collecting textbooks and workbooks utilized in pre-service teacher courses. This method is similar to that conducted by Brownell, Ross, Colón, and McCallum (2005) in the study of literature in general and special education programs.
I will examine responses from the interviews, make comparisons, and draw conclusions. Among many other potential relationships, I am interested in whether the opinions about inclusion classrooms differ between current teachers and educators within pre-service teacher programs.
I will study the textbooks and workbooks using content analysis. To aid this crucial research component, I will create a table/checklist as a guideline of what characteristics to look for; this will also help to organize my findings. After reviewing the materials, I will then construct the table including valuable characteristics that are relevant to my guiding question. As of now, I am interested in the representation of inclusion classrooms and the representation of students with disabilities.