Accommodating the needs of diverse learners : the impact of teachers' beliefs on classroom practice

Carrington, Suzanne (2000). Accommodating the needs of diverse learners : the impact of teachers' beliefs on classroom practice PhD Thesis, School of Education, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Carrington, Suzanne
Thesis Title Accommodating the needs of diverse learners : the impact of teachers' beliefs on classroom practice
School, Centre or Institute School of Education
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2000
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof John Elkins
Dr Carol Christensen
Total pages 346
Language eng
Subjects 13 Education
Formatted abstract

Teachers ' beliefs and values have affected the emerging organisational paradigm called inclusive education. This study aimed to describe and interpret teachers' beliefs and the influence of school culture on the model of support for students with special learning needs in two secondary schools in Queensland, Australia. It also aimed to explore the relationship between individual teachers' beliefs and practice. Case study methods using a multi-method design were used to collect data from the principal, special education staff and four teachers from two schools. Data were collected through the use of interviews, scales, field observations and repertory grids. Because classrooms are complex social environments within specific school contexts, data were collected about staff perceptions of the school culture and its influence on the way programs were organised in the school. The findings indicated that a range of factors influenced a school's culture. These included beliefs and knowledge of the staff related to : social justice and equity issues; disability and learning problems; barriers to inclusive schooling; teaching and learning; the goals of education; organisation and management of student behaviour; the nature and delivery of the curriculum; leadership within the school; the needs of teachers and the needs of the students. Data collected from two schools were used to describe two models of school culture and practice. One is described as more inclusive and the other is described as more traditional. Each school culture was associated with a different model of providing learning support to students and this affected the delivery of the curriculum to students in the school. Evidence is also presented of one teacher's match between espoused beliefs and practice and another teacher's mis-match between beliefs and practice. This study demonstrates that both collective and individual beliefs, knowledge and values influence individual and school practices in supporting all students in learning. It is clear that pre -service training and in-service training for teachers need to address the issues of school culture and teachers' beliefs. Implications for pre-service training, professional development and school reform for inclusive education are discussed.

Keyword Inclusive education
Teachers -- Attitudes
Classroom management

 
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