The impact of professional development on general-education teachers' attitudes toward the inclusion of students with disabilities in the inclusive environment
The purpose of the study was (1) to identify the attitudes and concerns of general-education teachers responsible for the education of students with disabilities, and (2) to examine the extent to which professional development training influences general-education teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion. Quantitative data were collected using a pre/post-test consisting of 16 closed-ended test items while qualitative data were collected using open-ended survey questions and five openended semistructured interview questions that addressed the research questions investigated in this study. A mixed-method design was used to study 67 kindergarten through fifth-grade general-education teachers in three grade schools (K -l, 2-3, and 4-5) from a small suburban school district to assess their opinions and actions in their classroom settings regarding inclusion. Pretest data were analyzed using descriptive statistics (means and standard deviation) to assess teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion and best teaching practices prior to training. A posttest was conducted following the training to determine to what extent professional development training influences teachers’ attitudes and concerns. A paired /-test was used to compare the means of the two tests, and to test whether the differences between the means were statistically significant. The effect size was also calculated for each case school to summarize the overall effect of professional development experience. Following the posttest, 10 general-education teachers were interviewed for the purpose of determining their attitudes toward inclusion and to determine how their attitudes changed towards students with disabilities after training. The results of this study indicated that professional development had a moderate effect on teachers’ attitudes and that there is a need to provide ongoing professional development strategies to address the needs of general-education teachers, particularly pertaining to the integration of students with significant academic disabilities, or behavioral needs.