Assessing teacher attitude toward the inclusion of students with autism.

Publication Year:
2012
Usage 2537
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Repository URL:
https://ir.library.louisville.edu/etd/1571
DOI:
10.18297/etd/1571
Author(s):
Wilkerson, Stephanie Elaine
Publisher(s):
University of Louisville
Tags:
Autism; Inclusion; Teachers attitude; Mainstreaming; Inclusive education; Attitude autism; Autism; Inclusion; Teachers attitude; Mainstreaming; Inclusive education; Attitude autism
thesis / dissertation description
The purpose of this research study was to examine the relationship between the attitudes of public school teachers and the inclusion of students with autism in the general education classroom highlighting individual teacher characteristics that correlated with agreement or disagreement with inclusion. Participants included regular and special education teachers currently teaching in a South Central Kentucky educational cooperative. Data were collected from the purposive population using a demographic questionnaire and a modified version of the Teacher Attitudes Toward Inclusion Scale (TATIS, Cullen, Gregory, & Noto, 2010). Teacher attitude toward inclusion of students with autism as measured by the modified TATIS was overall positive. Most teachers agreed that both regular and special education teachers were responsible for educating students with autism, and over half were willing to make classroom modifications to meet the individual needs of students with autism. A statistically significant correlation was present between teacher perceptions of professional roles and functions and the following characteristics: degree, age, years of teaching experience, having a student with autism in class, severity level of autism, adequate autism training, and formal autism training. A statistically significant correlation was noted between teacher beliefs about the efficacy of inclusion and the following teacher characteristics: frequency of contact with a person with autism, adequate autism training, and formal autism training. A statistically significant correlation was highlighted between teacher perceptions of students with autism and the teacher characteristic of adequate autism training. A statistically significant correlation was noted with the TATIS Full Scale score and the following teacher characteristics: severity level of autism, adequate autism training, and formal autism training. A statistically significant difference was noted between regular and special education teachers when assessing teacher perceptions of professional roles and functions and teacher beliefs about the efficacy of inclusion. This research suggests that teachers are generally positive toward inclusion of students with autism. A number of specific findings were also found as a result of this research. As examples, the TATIS factor structure was supported with the current, larger" sample of teachers. Older teachers with more teaching experience tended to be less accepting of inclusive practices while special education teachers tended to be more accepting of inclusive practices than regular education teachers. Perhaps most importantly, it was found that a lack of adequate and formal training on autism was consistently related to less positive attitudes toward inclusion. Such a finding has clear implications for school districts wanting to increase positive attitudes toward inclusion of students with autism in regular education classrooms.