Exploring predictors of teachers’ intentions towards the inclusion of students with disabilities in regular primary schools in Bangladesh
thesisposted on 07.02.2017, 22:53 authored by Ahmmed, Masud
Over the last three decades, there has been a policy shift towards Inclusive Education (IE) across the world. This has led to reform initiatives aimed at access and equity for all students within regular classrooms, irrespective of children’s individual differences on the basis of abilities, disabilities or any conditions due to their socio-economic or cultural background. Like many developing countries, Bangladesh has commenced IE reform to educate all school-aged children in its regular education system, particularly those who have been traditionally excluded (e.g., children with disabilities, those with social/economic disadvantage and those from ethnic minorities). Whilst enrolment of children with disabilities in regular schools has increased in Bangladesh, the majority of the 1.6 million children with disabilities remain out of school. Past research indicates that the negative attitude of teachers is one of the significant barriers impeding the implementation of IE policies. Building upon previous research, this project sought to understand in-service teachers’ attitudes towards enacting IE by using the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) as the key conceptual framework. Use of this framework was considered critical for this research as it not only allows us to explore educators’ attitudes but also to better understand other key constructs that may have a direct influence on attitudes and, ultimately, upon the behavioural intentions of teachers. Two key constructs potentially influencing behavioural intention conceptualised for this research were perceived teaching efficacy beliefs and perception of support available for inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms. An investigation was made into what background variables could influence the key constructs of TPB (i.e. attitudes, perceived teaching efficacy, and behavioural intentions). More specifically, the major aims of the research were to examine the influence of teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms, teacher efficacy to undertake inclusive practices in classes, and their perceptions of school support for such practices, on their intentions to include students with disabilities in their classes. The study also investigated the influences of demographic variables and of perceived school support for IE on teachers’ attitudes and teacher efficacy, assessing the levels of the major variables and the influential dynamics. This study employed both survey questionnaires and focus group interviews. A total of 738 in-service teachers from government primary schools in Bangladesh’s Dhaka division completed a survey and 22 in-service teachers participated in focus group interviews. Key findings of the research revealed that teacher attitudes, teacher efficacy and perceived school support were significant predictors that explained 40% of the variance in teachers’ intentions to include students with disabilities in their classes. Teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion rated close to neutral, perceived school support was distinctly negative, teacher efficacy was moderately positive, and teachers’ intentions to include students with disabilities was slightly lower than ‘somewhat positive’ towards inclusion. Perceived school support was consistently a powerful predictor across the variables (i.e., teachers’ intentions, teacher attitudes, and teacher efficacy). Specific demographic variables were also identified as important predictors of teachers’ attitudes and their perceived teacher efficacy. Thematic analysis of the interview data found teachers’ intentions put them in a quandary – they were simultaneously sceptical about the success of full inclusion, yet supportive of inclusion from social and professional perspectives. The interviews also identified salient institutional and environmental factors behind the teachers’ intentions. The study documented areas for further research (e.g., context specificity, factors behind attitude status and effectiveness of training strategies) as well as offered specific recommendations for educational policy makers and teacher educators (e.g., building training programmes for the teachers that address IE requirements). As teachers’ behaviour in the classroom is critical to the successful implementation of IE reform, it is imperative that a thorough understanding of the influences and motivators is attained. This study offers a contribution towards such an understanding with its findings that elucidate the impact of and relationships between the investigated variables.