The instantiation of theory into practice for pre-service teachers in inclusive education

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Pre-service teacher (PST) education courses are the vehicles for providing teachers with the preparation they require to work in inclusive classrooms. Discussions in the literature surrounding teacher preparation for inclusion are extensive (Jung, 2007;Killoran et al., 2014; Romi & Leyser, 2006). While there is widespread support for university-based teacher preparation, there continues to be national and international concern about whether the preparation PSTs receive for inclusion is adequate, and whether it does what schools require to ensure successful inclusive education (AITSL,2015; Carroll et al., 2003; Edelen-Smith et al., 1993; Forlin et al., 2015; Husebo, 2012;Snyder, 2012). Serious concerns exist about the preparation of teachers for inclusive classrooms and also a lack of knowledge about how this preparation can be carried out differently and better (Cochran-Smith, Villegas, Abrams, Chavez Mills, & Stern, 2015;Darling-Hammond, 2005; Dempsey, 2012b; Florian, 2011). The research described here investigates whether the application of a course design approach derived from theories of self-organisation and applied to course development influences pre-service teacher mastery of pedagogical content knowledge in inclusive education, professional pattern language, performance on assessments of self-efficacy,and the classroom practice of pre-service teachers. Quasi-experimental methods were utilised in two studies employed in this research. Anon-equivalent comparison group design was used to establish the differential effects of course design, one based on the theoretical principle of embedded design and the other on an approach based upon applied classroom experience. The dependent variables were pedagogical content knowledge, professional pattern language, and self efficacy.The second study sought to establish differential impacts of course design on the translation of the skills learned in the teacher preparation into practice whilst preservice teachers were on practicum. The results indicated statistically significant findings in favour of the embedded design cohort for pedagogical content knowledge and pattern language skills indicating that embedded design may be a promising design approach for providing students with higher levels of important pedagogical content knowledge and the language required to share professional knowledge. This was not the case for levels of self-efficacy where differences between the cohorts were not significant although PSTs in both cohorts improved in self-efficacy at statistically significant levels over the course of the study.The results of data collected in study two including classroom observations, PSTreflections, and an evaluation of lesson plans indicated positive effects in favour of theembedded design cohort for design, implementation, and also self-reflection about thefidelity of lesson design and delivery when the skills were applied in a practicumsetting. Recommendations are made for the design of pre-service teacher inclusiveeducation courses.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Bain, Alan, Principal Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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