Capacity Building Pedagogy for Diverse Learners

Capacity Building Pedagogy for Diverse Learners

Sharon Lynn Bohjanen, Abby Cameron-Standerford, Tynisha D. Meidl
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3873-8.ch011
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Our phenomenological study of student teachers' perceptions of special education practices identified a gap in a general education teacher preparation program, given the inclusive model of education mandated through the IDEIA (2004). We offer a 3-tiered teaching framework for teacher preparation programs to utilize capacity building differentiated pedagogy suitable for all learners, including digital learners and students with exceptionalities. The teaching skills for capacity building pedagogy, Universal Design for Learning, and Differentiated Instruction, supported through decades of special education research, will enable the next generation of teachers to effectively serve a diverse population of students (Frey, Andres, McKeeman & Lane, 2012; Hamilton-Jones & Vail, 2013; Oyler, 2011; Shepherd, Fowler, McCormick, Wilson, & Morgan, 2016).
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Differentiated instruction (DI) originated within the field of special education (Artiles, Kozleski, Dorn, & Christensen, 2006) to address the individualized education needs of students as required through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, Public Law 94-172, 1975). The reauthorization of this law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA, 2004) required DI methodology to move beyond special education practices into general education classrooms. Formerly, learning opportunities for students with exceptionalities were provided in segregated special education classrooms within a regular school environment as an effort to fulfill the least restrictive environment (LRE) mandate of IDEA (1975). Terminology for this approach was “mainstreaming” or “partial inclusion.” These approaches led students with exceptionalities to lack access to the general education curriculum and were not able to participate fully with their peers in the school community (McLeskey, Landers, Williamson & Hoppey, 2012). Further, with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, standardized assessment practices for school performance were mandated and held schools accountable to ensure students with exceptionalities were making adequate yearly progress within the general education curriculum. In response, school placement trends revealed more students with exceptionalities in general education settings; yet, general educators lacked the training, knowledge, and skills to adequately serve diverse student needs (Oyler, 2011; Grskovic & Trzcnka, 2011; Frey, et al, 2012; Hamilton-Jones & Vail, 2013).

These legislative acts influence current LRE interpretations that favor full inclusion in the general education classroom (Hwang& Evans, 2011; Pugach, Blanton, & Correa, 2011), however, the extent to which general education teacher programs adequately prepare educators for full inclusion of diverse learners has not yet been fully addressed. Thus, our study directly described student teachers’ experiences with special education practices in general education settings. We sought to investigate student teachers’ ability to accurately reflect on inclusive education practices. Specifically, this study examined student teachers’ responses to prompts to uncover themes of understanding of special education practices as presented in their pre-service program.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Differentiated Instruction: An instructional strategy that recognizes students’ various languages, preferences for learning, cultural backgrounds, readiness and interests to maximize each student’s potential for learning.

Andragogy: A scholarly approach to adult learning promoted as a theory of adult education. Andragogy includes five guiding principles: (1) self-concept, (2) adult learner experience, (3) readiness to learn, (4) orientation to learning, and (5) motivation to learn.

Data Informed Instruction: Using student assessment data to guide teaching strategies for Universal Design for Learning, differentiated instruction and education interventions.

Capacity Building Pedagogy: An instructional approach to integrate the teachers’ roles as a model and guide by providing a menu of choices for learning experiences and assessment.

Ableism: Discrimination and or stereotyping based on negative perceptions of a person’s (dis)ability.

Exceptionality: 1.) Unusual, not typical 2.) Unusually good, outstanding.

Full Inclusion: School placement for students with exceptionalities to ensure opportunities for all students to have access to the general education curriculum alongside their peers using LRE as the guideline for placement.

Universal Design for Learning: A teaching approach that provides a mechanism to use multiple modalities (e.g. auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory, taste, proprioceptive awareness) to represent information for content and skills acquisition to support learning and assessment for diverse learners.

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