Best Practices in Teacher Preparation for Inclusive Education

Best Practices in Teacher Preparation for Inclusive Education

Holly H. Pinter (Western Carolina University, USA), Lisa A. Bloom (Western Carolina University, USA), Charmion B. Rush (Western Carolina University, USA) and Cameron Sastre (Western Carolina University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9232-7.ch004


Research regarding best practice for preparing both special education and general education teachers for inclusion has been sparse in the US. The purpose of this chapter is to systematically review and summarize research regarding teacher preparation for inclusion. A thorough search uncovered 35 relevant studies. Themes that emerged from analysis of this research of best practices for teacher preparation for inclusive education included content for inclusion infused in teacher education courses, attention early and often to attitudes and dispositions toward inclusion, opportunities for collaboration and co-teaching, strong university-school partnerships, and collaboration to teacher education faculty.
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Researchers consistently find gaps in knowledge of licensed teachers. For example, Gable, Tonelson, Sheth, Wilson, and Park’s (2012) study surveyed teacher perspectives regarding the importance and level of preparation of working with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. These teachers were asked about their use of particular practices that are known evidence-based strategies for use with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Both special education and general education teachers responded that they felt ill-equipped to teach social skills. Their findings suggest a clear gap in teachers’ abilities to work with students with emotional and behavioral disorders and that much more work is needed with pre-service educators in this area.

A meta-analysis of 32 qualitative studies regarding co-teaching practices in inclusive settings (Scruggs, Mastropieri, & McDuffie, 2007) concluded that while co-teachers were supportive of engagement in co-teaching for inclusive practices, more training was needed to help teachers do so effectively.

The aim of this chapter is to review the existing research on the preparation of teachers for providing inclusive education services to children and youth in the United States. The primary research question we explored was:

What is the current state of inclusive education teacher preparation practices in the United States?

  • What is level of knowledge and skills teacher candidates have regarding inclusive practice in the United States?

  • What are the attitudes and efficacy of teacher candidates in the United States?

  • What is the structure of existing inclusive education programs in the United States?

Key Terms in this Chapter

University School Partnerships: Partnerships which involve k-12 schools and institutions of higher education in the preparation of teachers.

Inclusion: The practice of including children and youth with disabilities in the general education classroom and providing all students access to the general curriculum.

Performance Assessment: Evaluation of teaching based on actual performance and reflection in the classroom.

Inservice Teachers: Teachers who are currently employed as teachers.

Differentiation: The practice of providing differentiated content, assignments and delivery of instruction based on student needs.

Inclusive Practices: Practices that promote and facilitate the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in general education classrooms.

Co-Teaching: General education and special education teachers sharing teaching responsibilities in the general classroom.

Pre-Service Teacher: A enrolled in a teacher preparation program. This term is used synonymously with teacher candidate. Studies included in this chapter used one or both of these terms.

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