Inclusive Education in Science Education: Are Science Teachers Using Inclusive Technologies in Science Classrooms?

Inclusive Education in Science Education: Are Science Teachers Using Inclusive Technologies in Science Classrooms?

Gilbert Kalonde (Montana State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9438-3.ch013

Abstract

The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the extent to which science teachers use inclusive technologies in science classrooms. Participants for the study were 96 male and female science teachers from school districts in a midwestern state of the US. The results show that very few science teachers used technology for inclusive classrooms in science courses. In the study, one-third of teachers used and modeled either assistive or inclusive technology in science classrooms. Results indicate that science teachers need professional development due to lack of proper technology preparation, familiarity to inclusive technology. Findings in this study suggest that the extent science teachers use technology for inclusion in science classrooms needs to be addressed at teacher education levels including providing professional development courses on inclusiveness at school district levels. State standards should also discuss how inclusiveness must be addressed in the general education classrooms.
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Introduction

Technology integration familiarization affects teachers’ implementation and usage for instructional purposes. Technology integration impacts learning in its usage, but has also been deemed as a broad umbrella that covers many diverse instructional modeling tools for pedagogy. In education, effective technology integration is perceived supportive when its use has achieved intended curricular goals. According to (Dexter, Doering, & Riedel, 2006; Driscoll, 2002) technology integration is believed to support four components of learning: 1) active motivational engagement, 2) instructional group participation, 3) frequent interaction and feedback, and 4) connection to various subject matter world experts through their posts and websites. To use technology as an effective instructional tool, training and time is needed. The ultimate goal of technology integration is to completely redefine how teachers teach with technology, and how students learn by using technology. This can only take place when teachers have access to technology teaching tools and learned tactical integration strategies. These strategies are part of familiarization learned by exposure, and deliberate modeling in the teacher education programs.

To provide a research-based strategy for integrating technology in the classroom, Thompson, Schmidt, and Davis, (2003) drew guidelines on how pre-service teachers within teacher education program should observe appropriate models of technology use in the classroom, like the use of constructivism (Duffy & Jonassen, 1992; Lane & Cassidy, 1994) which emphasizes on learning occurring through a process in which the student plays an active role after technology familiarization in constructing the set of conceptual structures that constitute his or her own knowledge base.

In an effort to provide a fair and appropriate education to all, policy makers expect the majority of the 5.8 million students with disabilities (SWD) to learn science in general education classrooms wherever possible (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA], 1997, U.S. Department of Education, 1991). As the concept of ‘inclusive education’ has gained momentum and needed to create equitable classroom conditions for all students, students who previously had been referred to specialist forms of provisions, having been judged ‘less able’, are now believed to belong in mainstream classrooms with their peers (Ferguson, 2008; Ofsted, 2004; Thomas & Vaughn, 2004). Inclusive education has been described as classrooms that all students attend and are welcomed by their neighborhood schools in age-appropriate, regular classes and are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of the life of the school regardless of disabilities. Inclusive education is about how we develop and design our schools, classrooms, programs and activities so that all students, both typically learning and SWD learn and participate together.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Instructional Technology: This the use of technology in the instructional processes that enhances both teaching and learning by infusing instructional design and development with tools that eliminate learning in abstract. The main purpose of instructional technology is to create engaging, effective learning experiences using available technological tools for pedagogical purposes and motivation.

Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities are students identified with some form of physical or mental impairment that limits them to perform in one or more major life activities. SWD learn what they can't do with provisions to help them achieve as well as typically learning students.

Assistive Technology: This a term used to include assistive, adaptive, rehabilitative, and instructional technology used for people with disabilities to fully be part of society and classrooms and it also includes processes of selecting, locating, and using the technology without inconveniencing or disrupting the learning processes of both SWD and the typically learning students.

Special Education: The process and practice of educating students in a way that addresses their individual differences and needs in a school and any other environment.

Science Classroom: Classroom where the main purpose and emphasis is the teaching and learning of science subjects like chemistry, biology, physics and other closely related scientific courses.

Inclusive Education: Classrooms that all students attend and are welcomed by their neighborhood schools in age-appropriate, regular classes and are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of the life of the school regardless of disabilities.

Teacher Education: The process of preparing preservice teachers in the necessary instructional readiness for pedagogical and content knowledge to teach others in a classroom, online and blended environments for the sole purpose of becoming teachers in the K-12 schools.

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