Author

Bianca Gallo

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Date Information

May 2014

Department

Childhood Education and Care

First Advisor

Geertje E. Wiersma

Abstract

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that children with disabilities are educated in the "least restrictive environment appropriate” to meet their “unique needs.”-- otherwise known as an inclusive setting. How do teacher attitudes and practices correlate with effective inclusive education? Studies show that if a teacher gives students higher expectations, they are more likely to perform to higher standards. Thus, by giving a student with disabilities the opportunity to be included in a general education classroom, they are usually held to a higher standard. However, whether this motivates or discourages the student is then based on the teacher’s attitude and school’s resources. In this qualitative study, 61 hours were spent observing two second grade classrooms in the same town, but at schools with different demographics. One of the schools contained students primarily from lower socio-economic backgrounds, while the other school contained students who were predominately middle class. Data was recorded in a chart that contained instructional practices in inclusion classrooms. The results show that teacher attitudes and practices differed significantly in the two classrooms observed in that positive teacher attitudes and use of encouraging language, effective socialization, support services, and balanced exposure to flexible grouping strategies—all key factors for effective inclusive education, were much more prominent in one of the two classrooms observed. Future research should be conducted over a greater period of time and in a greater variety of classrooms for more accurate results.

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