EMPIRICAL STUDY OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION AND THE EFFECTS ON TEACHING OF BIOLOGY
1.1 Background to the study
Over the past decades, local and
national governments have adopted inclusive education policies.
International human rights framework states that schools are
responsible for providing equal educational opportunities and
that classroom teachers are the key agents in promoting
inclusion for all students (UNESCO, 1994, 2000). However,
despite a large body of literature on inclusion, there is a
lack of empirical evidence on its impact on student growth
(Fuchs & Fuchs, 1994; Farrell, 2000; Lindsay, 2003, 2007;
Kauffman, 2008; Kavale & Forness, 2000). Disability is one
of many individual differences and from this perspective,
inclusive education is defined as providing appropriate
educational practices to students with disabilities by classroom
teachers in regular classrooms (Loreman, 2007; Porter, 2008).
While opponents of inclusion argue that inclusive teaching takes
away from the learning opportunities of students without any
special needs, some suggest that inclusion benefits all students
(Demeris, Childs, & Jordan, 2007; McGhie-Richmond et al.,
2013). Research also suggest that although students with special
needs may benefit socially from inclusion, the academic
benefits remain unclear (Farrell, 2000). Lack of empirical
evidence on inclusive education may be perhaps due to
conceptual limitations such as a lack of consensus over a
definition of inclusion and methodological challenges such as
establishing control in natural settings (Dyson, Farrell, Polat,
Hutcheson, & Gallannaugh, 2004; Farrell, 2000; McGhieRichmond
et al., 2013; Nind & Wearmouth, 2006).
1.2 Problem Statement.
According to Dyson et al. (2004),
there are limited numbers of classroom-based observation studies
examining effective teaching practices in inclusive classrooms.
Indeed, a component that is often not included in research
examining effectiveness of inclusion and its impact on student
outcomes is an observation of the quality of classroom
teaching. Farrell (2000) suggests that studies should examine
observation of actual teaching as opposed to focusing on
comparisons of placement labels such as “inclusive” versus
“special” classrooms. Thus, focusing on classrooms as units of
analysis is a step forward in identifying how inclusive
education can be implemented effectively in practice for all
students (Erten & Savage, 2012). There are also other
factors to take into consideration when examining pathways to
successful inclusive practices. Many scholars state that moving
towards inclusion requires systematic evaluation at the overall
school-level including identifying the attitudes and perceptions
of school professionals (Carrington, 1999; Loreman, 2007; Porter,
1997, 2008; Singal, 2008; Villa & Thousand, 2005). Research
findings point out that classroom teachers’ positive attitudes
towards inclusion is amongst the most important factors in
creating inclusive classrooms (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002;
McGhie-Richmond et al., 2013). However, evidence also suggests
that classroom teachers are reluctant about implementing
inclusion and adapting instruction for all students (Avramidis
& Norwich, 2002). In addition to school-level factors,
factors at the classroom-level also influence impact of
inclusive education. Classroom teachers are expected to take the
leading role in providing support for students with special
needs within the regular classroom context (Pressley,
Wharton-McDonald, Mistretta-Hampston, & Echevarria, 1998;
Loreman, 2007; McGhie-Richmond, Irvine, Loreman, Cizman, &
Lupart, 2013). Evidence from studies of effective teaching
reveal that teaching in inclusive classrooms requires not only
a general understanding of best practices in teaching but also
a more specialized knowledge of adapted instruction for students
with special needs (Bender, Vail, & Scott, 1995; Jordan,
Lindsay, & Stanovich, 1997; Jordan & Stanovich, 2001,
2003, 2004; McGee, 2001; McGhieRichmond, Underwood, &
Jordan, 2007; McGhie-Richmond et al., 2013; Tomlinson, 2001,
2003; Voltz, Brazil, & Ford, 2001). However, research
findings on teachers’ negative attitudes towards students with
disabilities may also suggest that teachers are reluctant to
implement inclusive practices (Avramidis & Norwich, 2002).
In educational psychology, although literature examining the
link between teachers’ behaviour and attitudes is quite
extensive, research focusing on empiral study of inclusive education
and the effects on teaching of biology are limited.
1.3 Research Objectives
Two research objectives shape the
present study. The first objective is to examine whether there
is a relationship between teachers’ teaching practices and their
perceptions of inclusion in inclusive education and effects on
teaching biology.The second objective is to explore whether any
classroom-level factors including various components of teachers’
teaching practices and attitudes are significantly related to
student outcomes of reading attainment, social inclusion,
self-concept, bullying and students’ perceptions of inclusion.
Through a nested design with students nested within classrooms,
the present study will examine individual variation in reading
attainment of biology.
1.4 Research Question
(1) what is inclusive education?
(2) how is it implemented?
(3) what are its effect on teaching practices?
1.5 Significance of the study
The present study seeks to
examine how students’ develop in relation to different classroom
contexts as measured by observations of classroom teaching of
biology and attitudes towards inclusion surveys through
hierarchical analyses. The present study will aim to make
substantive conceptual and methodological contributions to the
field of inclusive education by 1) examining normal classroom
variation through looking at growth in attainment and social
outcomes and 2) by exploring the shared classroom variation as
the dependent variable independent of unique student-level
variance. Finally, the present study aims to guide professional
development in the implementation of inclusive education
particularly at the classroom-level and its effects on teaching of
1.6 Scope of the study
The study focuses on Empirical study of inclusive education and the effects on teaching of biology.
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