The Attitudes and Beliefs of Middle School General Education Teachers Toward and Interactions with Their Students with Disabilities




Bagnall, Jeannine Ann

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This study used a mixed methods design to investigate whether the attitudes and beliefs of three middle school general education teachers toward students with disabilities were reflected in their interactions with these students in their inclusive classrooms. The interactions of each of these general education teachers with their students, with and without disabilities, were observed over two 90-minute blocks of instruction, and then coded for frequency, duration, and type. These observations were then followed by semi-structured interviews, which used an interview protocol taken from the previous research studies of Jordan, Lindsay, and Stanovich (1997), and Jordan and Stanovich (2001), to establish their attitudes and beliefs toward students with disabilities. Interview responses to 20 sub-topic scores were coded on a 3-point Likert-type scale, and then an overall composite score was calculated to determine where each teacher fell along a Pathognomonic-Interventionist continuum. The results of the interviews and observations were compared to determine to what extent the beliefs and attitudes of each teacher were reflected in the interactions with their students, with and without disabilities. The major findings of this study are general education teachers: (1) hold positive attitudes and beliefs towards students with disabilities; (2) have high levels of responsibilities, which impacted effective inclusion; (3) viewed their special education co-teachers as assistants; (4) used different "teaching styles," which reflected his/her attitudes and beliefs toward students with disabilities; and (5) limited their academic extensions with all students, but conducted more academic interactions with students with disabilities than previously reported in research.



Education, Special education, Attitudes, Beliefs, Disabilities, General, Interactions